How and Why To Ask for Referrals
Why you should ask for referrals
- To grow your business.
- If you do not ask for referrals, you are not going to get referrals.
- A referral is worth 10-15 times that of a cold call, advertising or any other sales technique.
- The conversion rate on customer referrals will be high. Research indicates the close rate can be anywhere between 50% - 500% higher than any strategy.
- The customer acquisition cost from referral business is extremely low.
- Number of referrals is a key performance indicator that shows the level of customer satisfaction.
- Getting a referral is the highest compliment you can receive.
How to ask for referrals
As Brian Tracy says "the future belongs to the askers".
If you want something, do not be afraid to ask for it. What is the worst that is going to happen by asking for referrals? Absolutely nothing will happen.
You can ask for a referral by mail, telephone, email or in person. Do not just add a line to the bottom of your email or newsletter that says "we appreciate referrals." Requests for referrals should be personal to be successful.
Be specific about what you want. Ask your customer "do you know anyone like you who, (insert specific detail), who could benefit from my services?" The more specific the referral request, the more likely your request will be remembered and acted upon.
Set a weekly goal for the number of referrals you are going to ask for. Get into the habit of asking for referrals. Like anything, the more you do it and the more frequently you do it, the better and more natural you will become at it. Think of each meeting as an opportunity to ask for a referral and make it one of your standard talking points.
Make it simple for your customer
Aside from personally asking for referrals, here are a few other suggestions to keep it simple for your customers to refer you:
- Put a Refer A Friendbutton on your webpage.
- Use social buttons on your webpage so they can share your site easily on all relative social channels.
- Use QR codes on your business cards, social channels and webpages so that it is easy for customers to scan and send your contact information.
- Put a call-to-action on your blogs, newsletters, social media updates asking your customers to comment, like and (most importantly) share.
When to ask for referrals
The best opportunity to ask for a referral from your customer is when they are at the point of being very pleased with you, your product, or your service. At this point in time they are thinking about how you have made them feel and when asked they will be happy to share this feeling with the people in their network. When your customer mentions that they are happy with your service or product, consider saying something like "Thank you! I am so pleased you're happy with our service. Do you know anyone else who can benefit from our services?" However, do not wait for that perfect moment to ask for referrals. Anyone who knows, likes and trusts you is someone you can ask for a referral.
Keep track of who you have asked for referrals. It is OK to ask someone for referrals more than once, but use caution not to ask too frequently. Depending on your business, once every six months may be a reasonable amount of time between asks.
Who to ask for referrals
Think of all the relationships that are a part of your business. You do not need to limit your request for referrals to your customers. Ask business associates, suppliers, acquaintances, friends or even your prospects. Build a network of strategic alliances. It likely does not occur to your contacts to refer you. It is your job to put the idea in their heads.
Take a look at your day and plan who you are going to see and talk to. Then plan ahead to ask for referrals.
Remember that you have nothing to lose by asking. Most people are held back in their career and life because they are afraid to ask for what they want. Learn to be assertive and make it a habit to ask every day for referrals.
The gift of reciprocity
People appreciate receiving a referral and they are happy to reciprocate. Therefore, if you want to grow your referral business, it is best to be in the habit of giving referrals. You know the cliché what goes around comes around.
Always be appreciative
Always remember to thank someone who has given you a referral. Here are a few ideas of how to say thank you:
- A hand written note
- A verbal "thank you"over the phone or in person
- A gift
- Take them for coffee or lunch
If you neglect the thank you gesture, do you think the referrer will send you any more business?
Always practice exceptional customer service
Finally, remember that the best way to get referral business is to be the best at what you do. Always practice exceptional customer service. People will be happy to refer you to their friends, family and colleagues if they know they will be given the same exceptional service that they receive from you. Simply put, people will not give you referrals if you do not deserve them.
As a parting thought, let me ask you this... what three things do you do in your business to provide exceptional customer service?