5 steps to becoming referral rich
When it comes to doing business , whether you’re solo or not, we all need referrals if we’re going to stay afloat. Yet, this piece of a sales strategy is one that is often not managed strategically by most businesses. If this applies to you then that could mean you are missing out ... because adapting this sales tactic in ways that work for you can make a big difference in your business.
But ... before we start talking about the key themes in relation to referrals, let's take a step back because the very first thing we must understand about referrals is to remind ourselves of the risk that is associated with giving one.
When you give a referral, you’re putting your own reputation and brand on the line. If the referral results in a great experience, it makes you look good and the person referred will be thankful for it. That's a big win. However, if you give a referral and they have a bad experience, it will make you look bad and they’ll wonder why you made the referral in the first place. That's not a win.
With that risk front and centre, here are 5 important themes to consider when you are building a framework to leverage business referrals:
1. Build a rock solid reputation
You need to position yourself and your business as credible, reliable, dependable and trustworthy. You must engender a reputation around integrity, good service and great experiences. You must be seen to deliver and show up consistently ... every business day. It's all about building your know, like, trust and connect factors.
2. Give them something good to talk about
To make it easy to earn referrals from your customers and wider network, you need to build and communicate a compelling story around the things you do best (and hopefully better than everyone else). For people to provide you with quality referrals, they need to have absolute clarity about what you do, how you do it, who you do it for and why you are the best option to solve that problem. When someone makes a referral, they do so with confidence. So to refer you ... they have to be confident in your ability to deliver.
3. Ask for referrals
The idea of approaching someone and asking for a referral can sometimes feel a little icky, so it’s important to stick with what makes the most sense for you. I’ve found that it’s really not too difficult to request referrals from my clients and key networking contacts using a “soft ask” strategically placed in a conversation or email. Something along the lines of: 'If you know of anyone who could use my help, please pass along my information. I would love to hear from them."
It’s astonishing, but it often just doesn’t occur to people to refer your services to their own connections. Simply asking for a referral can set that in motion.
4. Give referrals
It is not a one way street. Although there will be people who are fully prepared to give you referrals with no expectations of anything in return, in the business networking space a little 'quid pro quo' works in your favour - especially within aligned professions. Remember that often you need to give in order to receive, and that a relationship based on establishing trust through an exchange of referrals can lead to more lucrative business collaborations.
5. Say thank you
It might not seem like a big deal, but a simple “thank you” goes a long way. Be sure you thank your referral sources for every referral they send your way. You can send them a quick email ... but if the referral results in a reasonably large order or piece of work, I recommend that you go the extra mile and give them a call, write them a handwritten note, or send flowers or a small gift as a token of your appreciation.
Referrals make the world go ‘round' ...
Managed well, good referrals can have the double advantage of bringing in business while building and fostering better relationships with your key business connections. That's a strategy that is well worth the investment!
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by Debra Hill
Business & Mindset Strategist
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