HOW TO CULTIVATE INFLUENTIAL REFERRALS
The Best Source Of New Business
Customer referrals are the most persuasive form of advertising.
The best source of new business is a referral from a satisfied customer.
A referral is a mark of respect and appreciation from someone who has experienced the benefits of doing business with you.
A customer who is prepared to give you a referral is likely to become a lifetime supporter of you and your business.
Referrals are even more powerful when they come from a trusted friend or acquaintance because you know that person has your best interests at heart.
The popularity of social media is evidence that services and products are chosen based upon the recommendation of others.
You Need To Earn Your Referrals
To have satisfied customers you need to provide products and/or services of high quality and deliver exemplary customer service.
To cultivate raving fans and influential referrals you need to go the extra mile and outperform your customers’ expectations.
You need to develop friendship, trust and positive relationships with your customers in order to drive loyalty to you and your business.
Customers want to feel comfortable and secure when giving you a referral as they are putting their reputation and their image on the line.
Ask For Referrals
Your best customers will usually be ready and willing to give you referrals.
All you have to do is ask!
But timing is essential.
It’s far too aggressive to ask for a referral immediately following a transaction with your customer unless you are absolutely certain they are delighted with your business.
Generally it’s wise to give them the opportunity to experience your service or product and provide follow-up support before asking for referrals.
When you give willingly to your customers it is likely they will want to return the favour.
When asking your customers for referrals you need to assure them that their referrals will be treated with the greatest of respect.
Advise them of the steps you intend to take when handling their referrals.
Remember to keep them updated and to show your appreciation for their support and contribution.
Keep in mind that not all customers are referral candidates.
Focus on those that are ecstatic about your business and make sure their network is the type of client you want.
Types Of Referrals
The best type of referral will come from your customers because they can vouch first-hand for the quality of your product or service.
But don’t forget to prospect other influential people such as those individuals or businesses that provide complimentary products or services within your industry or profession, including your suppliers and third party service providers such as consultants, accountants, etc.
Seek out opportunities for cross promotions and joint ventures using endorsements from other well respected people.
Nurture and build your relationships with your influential advocates and make the referrals go both ways.
Demonstrate your value and willingness to help your customers by referring people to them and their businesses.
Track And Manage Your Referrals
You can track and manage your referrals using a system as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or as sophisticated as a CRM database.
Be sure to thank your customers for their referrals on a regular basis.
Send a personalised thank you note or message for each referral you receive.
If you have customers who are particularly generous and forthcoming with their referrals you might care to reward them with something special such as discounts on your products or services, introductory discounted offers to JV partners or dinner and entertainment vouchers, etc.