People prefer doing business with companies that they feel they know and trust. Customers feel more comfortable when they are introduced to a company through a personal recommendation or referral as compared to reading the information on a brochure or on the website. A recommendation is like a positive testimonial. Each testimonial bears witness to what the company can do for a client.
Companies and businesses should devote more time and effort into this endeavor to garner additional contacts and boost their visibility both online and offline. The following are a few tips to help get you started in obtaining more referrals.
# 1. Start With Friends and Relatives
If you are just starting out in the industry and have no contacts to pursue, try asking your friends and family for recommendations. They may know someone who may be in need of your services. Family and friends are almost always willing to give you a hand. Take advantage of such opportunities to introduce your company and what it offers. Inform your family and friends of who your ideal clients are. For instance, if your target market includes teachers, you can ask your friends and family if they know any teachers.
# 2. Be Confident and Optimistic
Treat each existing customer like you would a gold mine. Each has the potential to bring the company additional customers by recommending your company to their network of relatives, friends and acquaintances. Your company will have no access to these potential clients unless you ask and actively pursue this option. Let your existing clients know that you appreciate receiving referrals.
If your clients like the quality of products or services you provide, they will be more than willing to refer you to their own networks. The perfect time to ask can vary depending on a person’s level of comfort. Some feel comfortable in asking before the project begins while others prefer doing it once the project has been completed.
# 3. Make It a Routine
Ask for referrals with each new client. There are many ways you can ask, depending on your technique and level of comfort. You can choose to trade with the client, assuring them a great job in exchange for a specific amount of referrals. Another technique is being subtle and asking the clients if they know anyone who may benefit from your company’s services. Referrals can also be obtained from talking to people you meet in events. You will need to prep what you say to make a good first impression.
# 4. Trade Referrals
If other businesses are referring you to their clients, you should do the same and refer them to your clients. Introduce businesses to potential clients and other contacts during networking events. Do not forget to express your gratitude for each referral you receive. You can send them a note, treat the contact to lunch or send a gift basket.
# 5. Offer Advice
People need advice on what products or services to use to satisfy their specific needs and wants. These are potential openings for you to offer your services or make a referral to other businesses. When it comes to offering advice, make yourself appear approachable and sincere to help. Avoid using any type of industry jargon as this would alienate your potential client.
# 6. Educate Your Clients/Contacts
Sometimes, businesses do not get a lot of referrals because clients or contacts do not know who their target market is. Educate them on the types of people or businesses that might benefit from using your services.
You could specify providing web design services for start-up businesses and companies. Inform people of the types of services you can provide. If you have only designed a website for one particular client, you can inform the person that you also design banners, ads, printed material such as flyers, posters and many more.
# 7. Perform a Manual Search
If you are running low on contacts and referrals, you may need to get creative and do some manual work. Do not be afraid of using the local phone book or even the Internet to search for potential leads. Offer to help other businesses get potential clients in exchange for a good referral or a recommendation. It may sound odd but it works in a similar way as approaching people during events.
What tips do you have to get more referrals into your business?