How awkward is it to ask clients if they know anyone else you can help? Like you have your hands out asking, "Please sir, may I have a little more?" It doesn't have to feel that way, in fact, it should feel rewarding to know you are willing to make life better for more people. Here's a statistic that should shock you:
- 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience—yet only 29% actually do, and that is because they are not asked [Texas Tech University].
Yes, you really should ask for referrals. Or at the very least tell clients you are available to take referrals. Here are 3 ways to get quality referrals without feeling sleazy or desperate.
Once you've finished up your onboarding process or completed the project for your client, send them a handwritten thank you card. Along with that send a couple of your business cards and ask them to think of anyone else they know that could use your help, and please pass along your card. Clients often think we don't have time/capacity for more, which is why we have to tell them.
Take it a step further and send a couple of $5 coffee shop cards and tell them to take a friend out who could use your services. Not only would they think of every possible friend that may need your services, they will remember you when they go to that coffee shop.
If there is one thing I learned in my college Macroeconomics class, it's that people respond to incentives. Whether it’s chasing the carrot or avoiding the stick, people will take action when it benefits them in some shape or form. Give clients a reason to refer to you, on top of the great service you provided! That added incentive pushes them to action because it makes their life better too.
One client I worked with was hosting a one-day retreat event. She offered a buy one, bring a friend discount. Essentially it was half-off the price and she doubled the attendance at her event. The value was getting her message out to people in order to nurture them along to her core services. The referral system brought more prospects into her world than she would have on her own.
Your referral program can be a discount or credit toward their next purchase. Or insider access to membership. Maybe it's an exclusive invite to an event you host for all of your referring clients. Something you are comfortable with and can sustain. Not sure where to start? Let's brainstorm together!
An unlooked source for referrals is other business owners serving your same. Find partners that compliment your business and vice versa. It happens naturally in some industries like building trades (contractors, electricians, painters, interior designers, etc. all refer each other) but there isn't one industry that doesn't benefit from B2B referrals.
How do you find the right partners in crime? Make connections!
✔️ Talk to clients about who they've worked with for other areas around your service- remember they are willing to talk if you ask.
✔️ Join groups, networks, membership areas - Virtual or real life.
✔️ Search competitors and businesses directly in line with your service.
When you find others who share similar values and understanding, chances are they are willing to engage in "collabetition" (collaborate + competition) I’ll dive deeper on this in a future blog but for now here is the idea: when you team up with someone you would identify as a competitor in order for the greater good of the client, you all win. Similar to the USA Olympic basketball team consisting of players from rival teams coming together to play their best for the homeland. They collaborate their strengths and compliment each others’ weaknesses; they fill in the gaps for the win.
The big thing here is be willing to share the love and keep the client in the forefront. This type of referral system is a two-way street. And it's really a win for everyone when the client gets taken care of in a full-picture approach.
Include a regular process for asking for referrals in your marketing plan. Don’t have a plan or need some fine tuning? Let’s connect!
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