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Something I’m focusing on more in my business lately is driving referrals from current and past clients. For the past year or so, I’ve been relying on organic referrals, essentially having friends, family, and customers refer me to other people because they enjoyed what I was able to accomplish for them, or knew someone that would benefit from working with me.
Here’s How to Ask for Referrals & Stop Waiting for Them
I’m focusing on ramping that up by putting a plan in place to encourage them to do this more often. The waiting game isn’t where I want to be. Especially considering that referrals are where 90% of my business comes from.
There are a few ways I’m working on doing this, ranging from calling out the idea directly to getting better at offering value to communities I’m a part of so I stay more top of mind.
I Think Organic Referrals Can be Improved Upon
Of course I’m not trying to “force” clients to refer business to me, I want it to still be a natural occurrence – when the customer is a good fit, then someone can refer me.
But, I think there is a better way to keep my company top of mind for the services we offer, something which I feel like I’m doing a really crappy job of lately. I’m barely posting to social media, barely blogging, and barely interacting with the communities I’m a part of.
I decided to change that – because not only is it what I tell my clients to do, but it’s going to keep me honest and more motivated to do better work. Here is how I’m going to improve my referral process.
1. Make It Known That You Have a Referral Offer!
Duh! This seems so brainless, but probably 5% of my clients know that I want and encourage referrals.
Not everyone likes getting referrals, some businesses like to seek the clients they want to work with. That’s great, but I really enjoy 95% of my clients, so why wouldn’t I want more people just like them?! 🙂
I’m working on coming up with a clever way of showcasing this referral offer, and then going to promote it where it makes sense.
- At the bottom of monthly client invoices
- In my business email signature
- On social media
- In client proposals
- Where ever else makes sense!
Why not keep this option front and center so clients remember the referral offer when they happen to find themselves in conversations with friends and business owners?
2. Actually Be a Part of the Communities You’re In
Up until recently, I commented on Facebook posts very sporadically, “liked” posts here and there, and was kind of “creeping” in most of them.
Recently, I started making it a goal of mine to comment on 3-5 posts in at least 3 of the more important groups every day. When I say “more important” I mean groups that have people who I’d love to connect with or work with eventually. Which arguably could be 20 of them, but I chose three to start with.
It’s been going well so far, and I think with a few months of this engagement, offering my help on the things I know well, people will start to associate me with those services – which is exactly what I’m going for with this strategy. 🙂
The key to this, I think, is to actually be helpful – if I can’t provide value I’m not going to comment just so I can check it off my list for the day. But I’m striving for 3 a day in each group.
3. Thank People for Referring Clients to You
It seems simple right, and it is. It’s also an easy thing – THANK someone for sending people your way.
4. Offer Multiple Ways for People to Send Clients Your Way
Make it easy for people to send clients your way. Sure, most people will just email someone and copy you letting them know you can help. But some people are more shy about doing that, so add a form on your site for referrals, or let them know they can email you directly and tell you to reach out to someone on their behalf.
5. Make Sure Clients and Your Network Know About All of Your Services
Even if you offer one service to your client, make sure they understand that you offer the other 3 as well. Maybe they don’t know anyone who needs the service they’re getting, but everyone need s a website, so make it know you offer that.
Include some services in your website footer, in your website navigation, or even on your invoices. Not only will you potentially gain more referrals, but if your current clients don’t know they can work with you in other ways, you might be able to upsell them as well.
6. Offer an Incentive or Referral Commission
Some people are very busy and don’t have time to refer folks to you. But if you pay them for their time and effort, that may change.
If you offer a decent enough commission for referrals that end up signing up with you, you might just change your odds.
7. Offer Content People Can Share, i.e. Case Studies
This goes along with making it easy for people to refer clients to you. If you give them case studies and info to share about your services, it’s going to be much easier to throw a link in an email to their friend or coworker and send it off. They won’t have to explain your services, or what you do for people, it’s easy for them.
8. Build More Business Partnerships
If you’re a local carpet dealer, you should be working with real estate developers and brokers. If someone needs to sell a home, they’re going to need new flooring and if their real estate broker offers them a suggestion, they’re likely going to take it because they trust them enough to sell their house.
On the same token, many people get flooring done before they even think about listing the house, so you can offer referrals for a real estate agent as well. Referrals are KING for local businesses.
9. Stay Active on LinkedIn
I told you how I got my first client from a LinkedIn update right, that’s a direct relationship to the referral that became my first client.
Staying active on LinkedIn keeps your network up to date on things you’re working on, skills you add, and when you post about client success stories. The organic reach on LinkedIn is still great (as of 2018) so don’t miss this opportunity.
10. Give a Referral to Someone You Want to Send Business Your Way
It takes referrals to get referrals.
If you want someone to send people your way, you’re going to have to prove yourself and build that relationship. There’s no better way than providing value first and sending them a referral.
As entrepreneurs, especially newer ones, we need to make sure we are showcasing and promoting ourselves whenever we can (where it makes sense, of course!). Taking advantage of this opportunity to offer your clients a discount or some incentive to refer others to you just makes sense in my mind.