How to Get a Constant Flow of Referrals

How to Get a Constant Flow of Referrals
By Jessica Swanson
Customer referrals are one of the most powerful selling and marketing tools available.
In fact, most small business owners believe that thebest source of new business is a referral from a satisfied customer.
According to Forrester Research, 71 percent of online shoppers read reviews before buying. Other studies show that customers say that referrals are of the utmost importance in determining whom they buy from and what they buy.
Here are 13 Steps for Creating Your Own Referral System:
1. Set Your Referral Goals
Determine how many referrals you would like to obtain each month. This gives you something to shoot for and makes you more aware of your level of referral-acquiring activity. To determine how many, base your number on the amount of new clients you’d like to bring on board each month.
2. Ask and You Shall Receive
If you have provided a great service or product, most people are happy to refer you to their network. The problem isn’t that they don’t like you, it’s simply that they have other things on their mind.
Go ahead and ask your happy clients and customers for referrals.
3. Work with Complimentary Small Businesses
Find complimentary service providers and exchange referrals. Be sure you only include providers in this network that you’d be comfortable recommending to your best client or best friend.
4. Refer Others
Generate a list of people who you can refer your clients and customers to on a regular basis.
5. Educate Your Clients
Make sure your current clients know about the services you offerso they can either refer within their company or to others they know. Too often providers assume their clients know more about them than they do.
6. Ask at the Right Time
Ask for a referral as soon as you have complete your service or your customer has purchased your product. It’s always best to ask when your product or service is fresh in your customer’s mind.
7. Say Thank You
This could be with a simple phone call, email, or a handwritten note. The important point is to express your appreciation. You’ll also encourage additional referrals this way.
It also makes good business sense to give your clients an incentive for providing you with a referral. Maybe offer them a gift card for each referral they provide you with.
If they can’t personally accept gifts, offer to make a donation to their favorite charity. Or, you might want to offer them a discount off their next product or service purchase.
8. Acknowledge New Referrals
Put a system in place to acknowledge every referral you get from a client and keep them posted on your progress with their referral.
9. Give People Tools
Provide valuable content your referral sources can share with their network: a downloadable ebook, an invitation to a lunch seminar or a webinar on an industry topic. Make it something special for them to share with their own network.
10. Find Referral Alternatives
Sometimes your customers or clients would rather supply you with a testimonial or case study instead of a referral. That’s great!
11. Offer an Affiliate Program
Consider offering a financial benefit when others refer business to you. You can decide how much percentage of each sale you are willing to give up in exchange for a referral.
12. Offer a Guarantee
When you guarantee your products and/or services this helps inspire confidence when others refer you.
13. Believe in Your Products or Services
Always remember, you’re not begging; you’re offering to help others be successful.
How you feel about asking for referrals often dictates how successful you’ll be. You have to be confident in the services you provide — that’s a given.
You must view asking someone for a referral not as an inconvenience to them, but as an opportunity for them to help a friend benefit from your services through greater conversion rates and bigger profits.
There you have it! Thirteen simple ways to begin generating a flow of new business.
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