In the vast majority of industries, referrals are the most cost-effective way to gain new clients and grow your business. When you attract new clients through referrals, your marketing costs are lower, your selling process is easier and more effective, and the referral usually makes for an excellent client. It’s just good business sense to look at how we can proactively increase our referrals. Here are six ideas.
1. Your Email Signature
We know it can be embarrassing or uncomfortable to ask your clients and friends directly for referrals. A great compromise is to add a line to your email signature that takes care of it for you. Here are a couple of wording options:
Your referral is our greatest compliment!
Referrals are the lifeblood of our business. We thank you for yours.
We appreciate your referrals.
Adding one of these lines to your email signature file is a subtle notice to everyone you email that you are open to taking referrals. It’s indirect enough to where no one feels put on the spot, and it takes all of five minutes to implement.
2. Set Up a Referral Program
Creating a formal referral program generates several benefits:
- It formalizes the process of asking for referrals. This lets clients know you’re serious and interested in referrals.
- It gets the word out to everyone without anyone feeling pressured.
- It is cost-effective and still far lower cost than using other marketing channels.
- It is not too time-consuming and produces results.
To set up your referral program, decide how you want to reward your referral sources. It could be as fun as awarding prizes such as Kindles and tablets to clients who send the most referrals to you. The cost of the prize is a small price to pay for the lifetime revenue of several new high-quality clients. Send a letter or email out announcing the program, and then set up a process for tracking.
If you’re in an industry where prizes and programs are simply not done, then a simple letter requesting referrals will work too. Be sure to include a description of the specific type of client you are looking for; you are far more likely to get referrals when clients know who to look for.
3. Develop Referral Sources
One way to truly quantum-leap your business is to find new sources of referrals. Your clients are a great source, but they each know so many people. If your clients have been with you for a while, your referrals could stagnate because your clients have referred just about everybody they are going to.
Keep your referrals growing by tapping into power partners. These are small business owners that have the same type of client you do, but are not competitive at all. The best way to reach out to them is to send them a referral!
4. Set Up Referral Processes
There’s a lot your back office can automatically do when it comes to referral processes.
- You can remember to ask how a new lead heard about you when they first call. Then you can record and track that, so that you will know where your top referral sources are.
- You can systematize the thank you notes and gifts so they go out timely and automatically.
- You can regularly schedule times with power partners to keep them up to date on your business changes and opportunities.
- You can systematize a referral program or related communications to keep everyone informed.
5. Track your Referrals
Referrals can come from lots of places and you want to know where it’s best to focus your energies. So find a way to track your referrals. You can do this in QuickBooks via notes, but personally I prefer either a custom field or the sales rep field (if you don’t have regular sales reps), because it’s easier to track the revenue from the referral. If you want to know how to set these up, you can check out our article.
6. Acknowledge Your Referral Sources
When you find out someone has sent you a referral, be sure to acknowledge that person with a thank you note or a gift. (Be sure to check any licenses you hold so you know what restrictions you are under concerning gifts to clients; some industries disallow it.)
You might want to reward your top referral sources with more than a thank you note, so tracking is important.
Once you set up these processes and delegate the tasks, you will grow your referrals and subsequently your revenues.
Oh, and by the way, we appreciate your referrals!