by Jasmine Ruscoe, Bizwize Business Solutions. Image from Visualhunt.com
Whether you’re writing a resume or running a business, asking for referrals is a daunting but critical process. It can feel awkward, scary, tacky, or even demanding to ask your clients to shower you with praise in a public forum – even if it’s just in front of their friends – but in this day and age, word of mouth (or of keyboard, as the case may be) is still one of the most powerful marketing tools.
There are many benefits to the referral process, including:
1. More Successful New Sales
Getting successful sales through cold calls is extremely rare; it only works about 1% of the time. When someone has referred you, however, this can increase up to 30%, 50% or even 80% success depending upon factors such as method and immediacy of interaction. This is because when a new client has heard about you from an existing, satisfied client, they start the relationship with a higher level of trust, so they are more likely to buy, and buy more, than they otherwise might.
2. Stronger Existing Relationships
When you ask a client to refer you to others, you are inviting them to reflect upon why they like working with you which builds loyalty. You are also appealing to their ego by asking a favour of them; showing that you believe their opinion has weight. Most of all though, you are reinforcing the idea that you are working together as equals. This is further supported if you reciprocate by referring them to people in your own social and business communities.
3. Lower Marketing Costs
Word of mouth is extremely effective, and extremely cheap! While it’s true that you may have less control over this style of informal marketing than more formal avenues eg paid advertisements, the volunteer nature of testimonials combined with their high degree of success makes them extremely good value for money. Further to this, customers who themselves discovered a business by word of mouth are more likely to refer it, meaning that this growth strategy will snowball exponentially.
With all these benefits for such little cost it is no wonder that so many businesses recognise the need for reviews and referrals. Where many struggle though is how to go about asking for them. As much as we would all like a magical, foolproof template for referral requests though, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, here are a number of tips to help you with the process.
1. Deserve the referral
This is hopefully a given. You want to provide great service so that people have positive experiences in the first place that they are willing to share. This does not necessarily mean making no mistakes (although that’s great too), just as long as you are responsive to your clients’ needs and resolve any issues that do arise in a timely and respectable manner.
2. Ask for the referral
As well as ensuring somebody has a positive experience it is important to encourage them to share it. This encouragement may range from a simple ask, to an incentive such as a social media competition or reward program like MyLeadPod. The most effective asks are specific and actionable, meaning that a helpful client can complete a task (eg share a post or submit a form) rather than simply “keeping you in mind.”
3. Follow up with the referral
Remember, your reputation and the reputation of the person who referred you are on the line when referrals are involved. A missed phone call or lost email can be a significant liability, especially when expectations are high. Make sure you continue to deserve the praise and trust that is being offered to you by following up referrals, even unsuccessful ones, with timeliness and respect.
4. Refer others
Referring other businesses shows that you believe in them and in the referral process, including the benefits outlined above. It also shows that you recognise the value of outsourcing skills beyond your expertise, and encourages others to do the same. You should also consider joining your local business association or network, where you can meet people with a whole range of skills to share and needs to be met.
Referrals are a high-value tool for marketing and monitoring your business, as they promote trust and highlight what people most like about working with you. Going after them may feel a little pushy at first but remember: you get what you deserve! Plus, a network of referrals means more business for everyone, and fosters a friendly and supportive business environment which benefits us all.
Want to join Bizwize’s referral network? Check out our MyLeadPod offer or contact us today!