We all love getting referrals from clients, friends, and colleagues. But, this business development channel is not typically consistent.
Or is it?
Think about this for a moment. You have a massive network of your absolute best, highest-converting new clients out there. And to access them, all you have to do is tap into this network of people who already know and trust you.
Here are 3 simple strategies to build new business via the referral channel. ntegrate these strategies into your selling process and over time you’ll have a consistent book of new business sourced from referrals:
Strategy #1: Ask
As painfully simple as this concept is, most of the time we simply do not ask for referrals. It may seem scary or intimidating, but this can be a true difference maker for you.
The Best Time to Ask for a Referral
There is a specific time to ask.
One that dramatically cuts down your risk of a no response.
It’s right after the client is most excited with or thankful for the service you’ve just given them.
“We as humans generally aim to return favors, pay back debts, and treat others as they treat us. According to this idea of reciprocity, it leads us to feel obliged to return a favor”, Dr. Robert Cialdini – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
In our case, they could show thanks by complying with our request for referral.
Strategy #2: Keep In Touch
Keeping in touch puts you in the upper 1% of effective salespeople. Both current clients (and even prospects who fell out of your pipeline) are great candidates for regular, benefit-driven communication from you.
Leverage Automation to Regularly Contact Your Clients and Prospects
Add clients and prospects to a list to regularly (each week or monthly or quarterly) receive industry news, tips, how-to’s, links to case studies, client testimonials and endorsements, etc.
The correspondence should come directly from you, not some general marketing mailbox. By using your name in the signature, you stay top-of-mind in your customer’s thoughts.
Another tip is to set the timing of your correspondence to a rhythm (e.g., the first Tuesday of each month, Sunday afternoons, etc.) Time the delivery with the time you think your client or prospect is most likely to view your material.
Leverage automation to track engagement with your material (responses, downloads, click-throughs, opens). If engagement rates show high activity, add the prospect to your call queue to engage in a meaningful conversation.
Strategy #3: Thank Your Referrer and Keep Him in the Loop
Thank your referrer, perform your sales process professionally, and keep your referrer informed of your progress with his referral.
I’m not a fan of gifts or redemptions, but if your business is one that welcomes these things, then, by all means, do this for your Ambassadors – those people who refer you multiple times, or your Champions – those people whom you’re building toward ambassador status.
Your actions and outstanding performance:
- provoke referrers to keep sending others to you
- build good-will & status in their own personal network
- build your reputation
- add consistency to your referral channel
Bonus Tip: Build a referral process.
Add these strategies to your sales process, perform them consistently, and you can double or even triple your referrals sending your sales numbers through the roof.
1st & 10
A simple technique I teach my clients (and this is borrowed from real estate guru Michael J. Maher and his book – The 7 Levels of Communication) is to contact 10 people in your network each morning. Do not sell to them. Offer assistance. Guidance. Help.
The people who reply are people you assess as either Ambassadors (multiple referral potential) or Champions (one-time referral). And when the timing is right, they are the candidates to ask for referrals.
Real estate professionals (the ones making $500K or more each year) use the referral channel for as much as 70-80% of new business generation. Study them, or professionals who use referrals as their primary lead source, for:
- referral process tips
- tricks and teachings of how ask for referrals
- when to ask
- what language works best
- how often to ask
I cannot emphasize more the concept of organizing your referral channel workflow into a process.
Template Tip: Create a library of templates you can personalize so you’re not creating a unique one-off piece of correspondence each time you write to someone.
Close ratios by sourced referrals can significantly outperform ratios of inbound (attraction) or even outreach (starting conversations with targeted people we don’t know). Add referrals to your toolkit, blend it into your current process, and blast your sales numbers far beyond where you are today.