We know that referrals are a simple, cost-effective way to grow your business, but employing this growth tactic takes a little practice. Team members often are scared to ask clients to make referrals. This is because asking for something creates the possibility of rejection — a feeling many people try to avoid. Additionally, they may feel awkward asking for what seems like a favor.
But when it comes to referrals, there is nothing to fear when you know your clients are happy and your services are valued. In fact, according to one market study, over 80% of satisfied customers are happy to refer a good business to others. Additionally, creating a referral procedure can help make the situation less stressful. So let’s talk about some of the steps you can take to help your team get over their fear of referrals and start bringing in new clients!
Start with Happy Clients
A mechanic wouldn’t ask for a referral before he fixes your car. In the same way, you wouldn’t ask for one if you haven’t provided a solid service. Before you even think about asking for anything, you need to treat customers with care so you can be a business worthy of a referral. Once you have done a good job and your client has expressed gratitude, the Law of Reciprocity is on your side. A happy client is more likely to receive the message and spread the word.
Keep It Casual
Referral requests don’t have to feel like cold-calls. They can be slipped into everyday transactions via conversation or email. This is where preparation becomes critical. You need a way to ask for a referral that doesn’t make you sound uncertain or needy. Practicing a pitch with others can make this task less terrifying.
Be Direct without Being Pushy
The end of a business call or email when an issue is resolved is a great time for the referral conversation. Instead of the standard, “You’re welcome!” consider including a line about spreading the word with others. Making this feel natural can take some practice, but it’s well worth it. If you’ve performed a job well, you’ve earned the right to be credited for that success in the form of referrals.
It’s easier to ask a client to refer others to a service from which they have already benefitted. After all, you’ve proven that you can perform the tasks needed to satisfy a customer. That’s the service experience you want them to share. Be specific about the services you want to provide for those they refer. However, if the client mentions other needs that your company can also satisfy, it’s fine to put in a good word for those departments as well.
Ask Your Best Clients to Refer
Likely you have clients that you interact with more frequently than others. Just as you wouldn’t ask a client with a negative experience for a referral, a run-of-the-mill client that hasn’t needed much more than passive interaction isn’t your best option for a referral request.
Instead, focus on clients who had more rewarding exchanges with your team. They can really vouch for the quality of your work. It’s also easier to ask someone with whom you have had plenty of interaction since trust is already established. Use that positive relationship to build your business!
Make It Easy for Them
Some people are reluctant to ask for referrals out of a mistaken belief that they are making clients out of their way to make the recommendation. Realistically, though, you’re not asking them to do anything but mention their positive experience which — as I explained above — most are happy to do.
However, you can take it one step further and offer to reach out to the prospective client yourself. For example, you might say, “If you know anyone who is also in need of this great service, let me know. I would be happy to reach out to them.” Now, you’re offering to do the legwork. They just have to provide a name and possibly contact information.
Show Gratitude for Referrals
If you do manage to receive a referral, it’s important to thank the people who recommended you and to provide good service for them. Many companies have a referral incentive program that provides monetary rewards to individuals who bring new clients to their business. Another way to show gratitude is to reciprocate by referring clients to them. No matter how you decide to show gratitude, make sure to do it every time, with every individual that recommends your business.
Luck Favors the Prepared
There are many simple ways to ask for a referral so you don’t come off as over-eager or needy. Although having a procedure for requesting referrals can help ease fears, that doesn’t mean it is actually simple. It’s important to know your clients, your services, and how to make and maintain positive relationships. Put simply, the important groundwork for getting referrals comes from the business interactions leading up to them. You have to put in the work for your client to earn the reward of a referral.