Creating a Professional Referral Network

ReferralCard1Ever asked a friend to hook you up with one of their friends?  “I swear I’m not psychotic; I just really need to find someone to marry?”  Well in the business world, word-of-mouth referrals are a great way to “meet your match,” so to say.  Creating a referral channel is one of the best ways to network, generate leads and promote sharing.

So why are referrals so great?   

  1. Referrals are cheap.  When someone has been referred to a business, there’s usually already some level of trust.  These sales close faster, stay longer and end up buying more.  Not to mention, you’re saving sales budget by having qualified leads handed straight to you.
  2. Referrals build businesses; businesses build referrals. The harder you work for a client, the more likely they’re going to keep coming back.  The better you do, the more likely they’ll tell their friends.  Quite the vicious cycle, huh?
  3. Referrals can help you go viral.  Once you’re done with a project, ask your customers to spread the word.  There’s no harm in doing this if you’ve done a good job for them.
  4. Referrals are real.  Conversations can start in person or in a digital space.  From here, they can end up in social media or with a face to face meeting.  Regardless of how they happen, a referral is a referral.

How should you ask for a referral?

Make it about them.  Consider saying, “You’re one of our best clients.  I really wish we had more customers like you.  Do you know any friends who’d benefit from our services?”

Lay out the guidelines.  Make it known what target market you’re looking for by saying, “We’re looking for businesses that…”  From here, a name will pop in their mind, or they’ll keep you in mind when they find someone with a need for your business.

Treat them like a VIP.  Let the client know, “Your business means so much to me. If I see your friend come through the door, I’ll make sure they’re given the best service at the best price.”

Make sharing simple.  Sending information to current clients, like a newsletter or email blast, can promote sharing.  Also, make sure share buttons for Twitter, Facebook, etc. are integrated into your communications.

Keep it old school.  Passing out business cards is a great way to be remembered.  If you write your client’s name on the card, you’ll know who to thank when one of their referrals comes through.  Always thank your referral.

Over half of our population checks online reviews and social media before making a purchase.  Referrals can give your business credibility and generate long-term sales.  If your client is happy, ask them to refer someone else. The easier you make it for them to share, the more likely they’ll do it.