Given the volatility in the market and the number of cautious clients, it is now more important than ever to strengthen your existing client relationships and make it easier for your clients to recognize your value and refer you to others. 80 percent of clients would be willing to refer a business. Yet only 20 percent of clients are actively asked for referrals. There seems to be an enormous opportunity that businesses are missing out on.
Clients are open to the idea of giving referrals – but businesses are not having enough of these ‘referral conversations’. How much revenue are you missing out on by not getting a referral from 80 percent of your client base on an ongoing basis? It’s time to close the gap between your current ‘referral revenue’ and your goal ‘referral revenue’ – and here’s how to do it.
1: Don’t Shy Away!
Find out what your customers really think. Some businesses are scared to ask for referrals because they don’t actually know what the client really thinks of their service. You need to find out. If you are regularly not hearing feedback, whether positive or negative, then that’s a sign that your customers don’t care enough to tell you and they aren’t fully engaged in your business. If that is the case, then its time to push the panic button.
While it may sound counter intuitive, the first step in making your business more referable is to try to uncover honest customer feedback. Most people will be too polite to tell you face to face, so set up some type of independent feedback system. By uncovering and dealing with the negative you are making your business more referable.
2: Planting the Seed
Do you plant the “referral seed?” Asking for referrals directly and hoping for something back is only part of the equation. You need to anticipate future conversations around referrals so that both you and your customer will be comfortable with the referral conversation.
Do your clients know that you welcome referrals and that’s the preferred method by which you grow your business? Do you make it obvious through your website and marketing collateral that you welcome referrals? Or do your clients think that you’re too busy already? A conversation about referrals doesn’t make you look desperate. But if you don’t make it clear that you welcome referrals, don’t expect to get them.
3: Consider the Customer
Your customers may often wonder whether the referral process will take up too much of their time, or whether their reputation could be hurt if you don’t follow up properly. You must think about the client’s needs, not yours. The referral process should reflect well on them and make them look good.
The best way to overcome these concerns, is to explain the referral process and the outcomes of the introduction. This could include following up referred clients promptly and letting the referee know how it progresses, building their confidence in the process. A successful outcome with a referred client strengthens the existing client relationship and should lead to more referrals.
4: Articulate the Value
Ask the client to articulate the value they’ve received. If they say things like ‘I never thought of that before’ or ‘thanks, that’s a great idea’, this is a perfect trigger to have a conversation about who else may benefit from your expertise.
Importantly, your client needs to tell you about the value they’re receiving so they ‘sell’ themselves into the idea of referring you. You can’t badger them into agreeing with you about the value you think they’ve received!