Referrals that Rule – 7 Steps to Getting Referrals from Everyone you Know
Right up front, let’s get this out of the way… People do not like giving referrals. There are a number of reasons why. First, there’s risk involved for the person making the referral. What if you, as the service provider, don’t come through and you end up making the referrer look bad? Second, making referrals isn’t easy. It’s not like your name rolls off their tongue whenever the situation presents itself. Third, if you don’t give them a compelling reason to send referrals your way, they are probably asking themselves, what’s in it for me?
Does this mean that getting referrals is a losing battle?
Absolutely not! What you will learn in this installment are some things that you can do to get those referrals humming and overcome the obstacles. If people don’t like giving referrals, figure out why and fix it! They still may not love doing it, but keeping those barriers as low as possible will give you the upper hand. Here are some things to stay focused on when creating a referral strategy.
Be awesome at what you do!
Let’s face it; you are not going to get referrals from anyone who thinks that dealing with you is anything less than amazing. Make it easy to have someone talk about you by making it difficult for them to NOT talk about you. If you are a dentist that offers an amazing, pain-free, and, dare I say, FUN experience during a checkup, people will remember that. The next time they hear a friend talking about how horrible their last experience was at the dentist, you will be the benefactor of their bragging rights. You offered a great experience, they have the opportunity to “show off” a little, and you get the credit… and hopefully the referral.
Keep your focus on providing a positive customer experience.
Make sure every one of your employees is polite and acts in a manner that lets the customer know that you appreciate their business. Say Thank You! Keep a customer database that includes names of their children or other family members, and next time you see them ask how their family is doing and use their names. It’s amazing how far a little personalizing can go.
Be honest with your customers at ALL TIMES!
What is the quickest way to lose credibility? Easy… get caught in a lie. Will a customer forgive you if you are honest with them and you are truly sorry if there is a problem? Yes, almost every time. Believe it or not, people actually appreciate hearing the truth, even if it means hearing something they don’t necessarily like. The old saying, “Honesty is a Virtue,” is true in any relationship. Your customers will appreciate you for it.
Don’t be afraid to “put your money where your mouth is!”
If you are capable of being awesome at what you do, then you should be able to guarantee it. Never underestimate the power of the 100% money back guarantee. If there is one thing you will learn, it’s that people do not like obstacles. Obstacles stop people from completing a sale. Remove every possible obstacle that you can think of so that people have no reason not to buy from you, and they send referrals your way.
Be respectful and kind to everyone.
This sounds like something you learned in elementary school, but it holds true throughout your professional and personal life. How would you like to be treated as a customer? Put yourself in their shoes. As a customer, would you refer your services to someone else? If the answer is no, then you have some work to do. Always be respectful of people’s feelings because you can never be sure what’s going on in their lives at any given time. Be nice, and know when to back off and give your customer some breathing room.
When you mess up, find out what you did wrong and fix it.
Along with everything else in business comes damage control. Inevitably, somewhere along the line, someone is going to screw up. The good thing is that if you are doing everything in steps 1 through 5, you probably will be able to get some forgiveness. You must immediately dig in, fix the problem and make it right with the customer. Believe it or not, this could be one of the most powerful things to bring referrals. When was the last time you heard someone talking about a horrible experience that a company never fixed? Unfortunately, that seems to be common in today’s world. If you really want to get people talking about you, fix the problem and word of mouth will spread like wildfire.
Ask for referrals.
Is this one too obvious? Amazingly people don’t realize the power of simply asking for referrals. They need to do all the other things well to deserve the referral, but you also need to ask. You can even change the message on your voicemail greeting asking the caller to let you know if they were referred by a friend, family member, or business associate so that you can say, “Thank You.” It’s just another way of reminding them that you appreciate, encourage, and expect referrals.
(I said there would only be seven).
Open your eyes! Look in your file cabinet and Rolodex. There are people all around you who could help your business through referrals. Do your friends know what you do and how well you do it? If so, they should be an excellent source for referrals. What about your golf buddies at the club or the people in your weekly bowling league or card club? Don’t take anyone for granted! You never know where your next lead may come from, and you don’t want to overlook those who could help you the most.
One important thing to remember is that when you ask for a referral, you are asking the referrer to put their credibility on the line. If you perform poorly, you may actually ruin a relationship and some people simply are not willing to run that risk… That’s why you have to be awesome at what you do and take away that risk.
Another interesting thing to consider is the difference between men and women when it comes to making referrals. Women seem very willing to refer their friends, whereas men are less prone to do so. Martha Barletta, author of, “Marketing to Women,” states that most big-ticket salespeople—the good ones, at least—will tell you almost all their business comes to them from referrals. This is true in financial services, automotive sales, computers, and many other categories. Women are much more likely to provide referrals than men. In insurance, over the lifetime of a customer, a woman provides on average 28 referrals, vs. 13 for men. And in a book by Tom Peters, he cites the case of a financial advisor who analyzed his book of business and found a 21.0/2.6 referral ratio between women and men!
So the lesson here is to try every day to be the best at what you do and get people talking. If you are honest, have a positive attitude, and stand behind what you do, then there is no reason that people should be apprehensive to make a referral on your behalf. Finally, don’t overlook the obvious and don’t be afraid to do one simple thing… Ask!
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