1471321_10201379783961977_1247120656_nby Steven Zyskowski, Founder of Caerusnet

In the words of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Chairman and CEO,
People influence people.  A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.

#1: Commitment to developing a “Referral Mindset”.

If you’re trying to build a business or an organization, the easiest sale you’ll ever make is to a referral.  The most successful professionals have developed systems that allow them to stay on top of what’s important. For most successful professionals, referrals are the lifeblood of their business.  Why not then consider making a commitment to strategically be formulating new ways of channeling referrals to your business?  Rather than hoping people might refer you as you’re working to impress them, why not use the power of suggestion and focus a healthy part of verbal interactions with your clients based on the notion of giving you referrals and staying connected with you?  Being a center of influence to your clients keeps you in front of them, even when they don’t have a personal need for the product or service you represent … as they will also stay in touch with you when they need a good referral to another professional.  What if developing a Referral Mindset meant a 20%-50% increase in the referrals you receive after committing to using the process?  Would that be worth it?  Here’s more food for thought:

Why are Referrals so Powerful?
  • The reason referrals are so powerful is because they come from a credible third-party who touts the benefits of doing business with you. People believe what a credible friend is saying versus hearing a commercial from a salesperson whose sole purpose is to make money from you.
  • Referrals are also valuable because most of the time they are virtually free. How would you like to receive the benefits of the most compelling sales advertisement on earth for absolutely nothing? You can through referrals.
  • Research shows the importance of referrals. According to Paul and Sarah Edwards (authors of “Getting Business to Come to You”), up to 45% of most service businesses are chosen by customers based on the recommendations of others. Referrals are one of the two most popular small-business marketing methods (the other one is advertising).
  1. Commitment To ALWAYS Use The Right Kind of “Referral Language”.

Nobody cares more about your business than you do!  The difference between getting referrals and not getting referrals doesn’t have to do as much with the quality of your product or services as you may think.  It has everything to do with your abilty to use referral language with your clients, without exception, 100% of the time.

Has someone ever asked you for a referral? Did it go something like this: “Hey John, by chance would you know someone who could benefit from my services?” John starts to ponder and think about it and eventually says, “Well, not off the top of my head, but I’ll keep thinking about it.”

  • This is how 90% of all referral questions are asked and unfortunately, you might as well not ask the question. Rarely, if ever, will you get a positive response. Why? Because you didn’t ask the question right. “know anyone who…” questions are too broad for people to think about.

Sales School 101:  If you want the business, you must be bold and ASK for it!*
The #1 reason you don’t ask?  You don’t want to appear desperate or pushy … and turn off clients.  So make your asks in the form of suggestive phrases.

Use referral language BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER every client interaction.  Always remind your customers that referrals are the greatest compliment they can pay.  Remind them how important your work is and that you are eager to help anyone they would refer facing the same issue.  Remind clients to use you as a resource … someone who also loves to make good referrals to other area professionals.  You have to see where it is that you can use this language and for the sake of your business and referrals, commit to using well timed “one-liners” until they feel authentic.  Trust me, when the cash register starts to ring referrals, that’s when you know your language is working.

Here’s how to ask for referrals from your clients without seeming desparate or pushy during the three most critical times you are engaged with them …

Critical Time #1:  BEFORE The Transaction
*Prospective client calls you to setup appointment, etc. “Sure, I’d love to see if I can help you.  Do you mind telling me who referred you to me?  All of my customers come to me by way of referral and I want to be sure I know who to thank and let them know how much I appreciate their referral.”
Note: Be sure to thank the people who refer you promptly!  Always say something great about the person who referred the prospective client to you.

Critical Time #2: DURING The Transaction
*“I know I mentined earlier that our practice grows by referral, and my goal is to do such a great job for you, that you can’t help but want to refer me to others, as well.”
*“We are doing important work for you and my hope and goal is that if we take great care of you and deliver on our promises, you will want to share us with the people you care most about who may have similar needs.”  “That’s why I’m most referred.”

Critical Time #3: AFTER The Transaction
*”As a referred client, it was an absolute pleasure to take care of you.  Is there anything else I can do for you to be sure you are extrememly satisfied?  After all, it’s our most satisfied clients who will refer our next customers!  I will be sure to treat all of your referrals with the same kind of care as I did with you.  Thank you for being such an amazing client.”

  1. Develop your network and present, present, present.

Join organizations that allow you to consistently present like the Chambers of Commerce or local Referral Teams.    The Chambers of Commerce are great places to:  a) Meet people and  b) Present. Most Chambers will support you offering workshops (lunch and learns, etc.) to be made available to other Members of the Chamber.   “Being A First Time Home Buyer in 2016”,  “Why Downsizing Makes Sense” etc. are all topics where Members can seek out your expert advice.    At the Chamber and other networking events, you will see other professionals who do what you do attending these events as the Chamber of Commerce usually nobly desires to be all things to all business in the community.  Referral Teams are designed specifically to allow Members to become exclusive trusted resource to a team of local professionals who are all in different professions.  This gives you the opportunity to become the voice of your industry and plant seeds for future business.  Members usually present at every meeting to the other Members to help deepen the referral relationships.  If there are no openings for your professional occupation in the referral groups you have visited, consider starting a team of your own (think Caerusnet!).

Develop a referral matrix by finding 3-4 of each local profession to regularly make client referrals to.  Look to develop relationships locally with 3-4 financial advisors, 3-4 CPAS, 3-4 remodelers, 3-4 insurance agents, etc.  How do you find these people?  Ask your clients who they use and ask for permission to introduce yourself!

Caerusnet Business Card Referral Tidbit:
When you’ve made the decision to grow by referral and reputation, why note state it?:
“By Referral Only!” … does your business card have referral language on it?

Careusnet Email Signature Line Suggestion:
“Your referrals are most appreciated, celebrated and reciprocated.”

 

Thank your referral sources in a tangible way, every time.  Beyond a verbal thank-you, make sure they know you appreciate it by making your thanks tangible.  Return the favor with a reciprocal referral.  Write a hand-written note.  Send a small gift.  Take them to lunch or dinner.  Introduce them to someone you know they would like to meet.  Extend the “give-to-get” full circle to “give back.”  One good referral deserves another and another.  Be both a source and a recipient for a referral strategy that works.