Ever wondered why people buy from people? It’s simple: people trust people. A referral is an extremely powerful exchange when it comes to business as it almost always converts to a new client. Why? Because the referral gives you instant value and credibility and trust has already been established for your potential client, and all at the very start of the relationship. If you’re thinking “how to increase my referrals?” here are 12 proven strategies that can seriously grow your client base.
1. Make it easy to be referred
Your clients won’t know you’re looking for referrals unless you make it known, so add a line to your email signature to let them know you are open to them. Always make sure that your contact details are on all correspondence and that you’re responsive. The easier you make it to be referred, the more your clients will refer you.
2. Ask for them
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You may feel like it is too pushy to ask but if your clients are happy with your work, they’ll be happy to help. Just be specific with who you’re looking to meet or the type of work that you want and always try to make it mutually beneficial. A good tip when asking your clients for an introduction or referral is to ask your new clients first. Not only will they likely be the happiest with your work at that moment, but their network is completely untapped too.
3. Ask for feedback
Talk to your current clients and ask what they like or don’t like about your offerings. Not only will this help you to make improvements to get more referrals from those who buy from you, but it will also cater to the needs of your existing customers and increase the likelihood of referrals there too. (Discover the types of referral frictions you will need to overcome)
4. Give a referral
You give what you get, so make a habit of making relevant and mutually beneficial introductions between people in your network. Refer your client to another high-quality contact that will help them in a huge way. When you help someone and provide value, they naturally want to reciprocate.
5. Provide value
Every introduction or referral should benefit all three parties involved: the two recipients and the introducer. As the referral reflects the person who is referring you, your job is to reassure them that you can provide value so that they will look good. The way to do this is to deliver exceptional work for them and to share your specific experience, expertise or accomplishments that will help their contact. Only then will they be motivated to introduce you.
6. Say thank you
There’s power in having an incentive, so give your clients one for referring you. Think about how you can reward them for their effort? It could be a simple social media post about them and their company. (With their permission of course!) Or your firm’s marketing team may have an established process for saying ‘thank you’ to clients for new referrals. Do check what you can and can not do to say thank you, the last thing you want to do is fall foul of any current anti-bribery legislation. This is particularly pertinent if you work within the public sector.
7. Build a visible identity
Being visible online and being in front of your clients is very important when it comes to referrals. Not only does a strong presence and social activity establish you as a thought leader, but it also differentiates you from others and makes you hard to forget. You can do this through offline methods too to stay front of mind.
8. Spread knowledge in your industry’s community
In today’s world of marketing, information is power. Not only that, but more and more people are buying products and services that they see on social media. If you can provide people with what they want or need, e.g. by being active on social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter, people will be much more likely to refer you to their family, friends, and colleagues. Think about the best way that you can establish you and your company as the go-to expert.
9. Meet new people
If you’re thinking about “how to increase my referrals?” why not cast a wide net and build a strong professional network? Attend conferences and events and get involved with relevant groups and organisations where you can. After all, the more quality connections that you make, the more opportunities you will have for potential referrals.
10. Always provide the next step for future contact
Meeting someone at a networking event is simply the first step toward developing a referral relationship with them so don’t go away without making the next step for future contact. It could be as simple as “it was really great to meet you, would you be open to maybe getting a coffee within the next couple of weeks to learn more about each other’s business and how we might be able to help each other out?” Once they agree, you can then arrange a meeting rather than just sending a generic follow up.
11. Don’t forget to follow up
Always, always follow a meeting with a quick follow up email within 48 hours. You don’t want your networking efforts to go to waste so don’t allow yourself to be forgotten! Always try to include something personal such as a problem that they have that you can help solve as this will increase the chances of them getting back to you to arrange a meeting.
We have a great course in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner called How to Make the Time for Business Development. It takes about 2-hours to work through and create a daily business development habit that you can stick to.
12. Maintain and build relationships
Most referrals come from your existing clients, from the people that know you, the way you work, and what you offer, so stay on their radar. Always work to build your relationships by keeping in contact regularly, sending them relevant advice or information or by sharing their social media posts.
How to increase my referrals?
It takes time and commitment but if you make the 12 points above a part of your everyday client service, you should have referrals coming your way consistently.
We have a great course in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner called “How to become the Go-To-Expert”. And a Game Plan called “…if you need to raise your profile” has sections on raising your profile inside your firm as well as externally. Check it out!