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Selling Your Services

Getting Referrals: Are You Leveraging Your 'Unpaid Sales Force?'

by Krishna De


Five keys to growing your business through referrals

You've honed your technical expertise, you've established your business and got your team in place, but why was it no one told you you'd also have to develop marketing and sales skills?

That's not what you were expecting when you established your business as a power sweeping contractor, right? In fact the idea of selling may even leave you cold.

The reality is most of us dislike selling. Equally, we don't like being sold to. This simple fact is often overlooked, yet it has the potential to be the key that unlocks the growth of your business.

People do business with those they know, like, trust and respect. In other words they want to build a relationship with you before they invest their hard earned money in your solutions and services.

Referrals are often the most powerful way to expand your business requiring little marketing spend and providing you with immediate credibility through the reputation of the person referring you.

But how often do you miss the opportunity to ask for a referral? Do you have a specific strategy and action plan to manage your referral process? Are you leveraging the support of your unpaid sales force - your clients who already know, like, trust and respect you?

Here are five keys to growing your business through increasing your referrals.

How to ask for a referral

Review your current clients and identify three of them that you can contact this week about the potential of them referring you to others.

When you speak with them, thank them for their business and tell them you enjoy working with them. Advise them you are in the process of expanding your referral based business. Explain that you would like to partner with them to help you grow your business and ask if they could refer you to 2 or 3 of their contacts.

Make sure you advise them of the profile of your ideal client that you would like them to refer you to. If they are able to identify someone, ask if they would contact the person ahead of you reaching out to them to introduce yourself.

Make your clients proud to refer you

Most of us delight in great feedback and there is nothing better than having someone thrilled because of the results they have achieved through working with someone you referred to them.

When a client refers you, their personal reputation is on the line. They won't refer or recommend someone who they don't believe in. It's therefore paramount you deliver to your highest standards when working with the contact you have been referred to.

Connect with your potential new client

When you make contact with your potential new client, reference the person referring you and advise them that your mutual contact thought it would be a great idea if the two of you connected.

Make sure you don't overwhelm them with your great technical expertise. Actively listen to their challenges and concerns. Offer suggestions and be generous with your advice - make them feel you have their interests at heart.

Remember, you can't convince them to work with you; even though you have come highly recommended, they have to grow to know, like, trust and respect you on their own terms.

Keep your client in the loop

Don't forget to keep your original client informed of how things progress with the personal contact they referred you to. That is not to say you should disclose anything confidential – just make sure they know that you have made contact and whether you are going to work together.

Reward your referral partners

Consider rewarding your referral partners, perhaps by entertaining them to lunch or introduce a different service agreement or fee structure to formally reward your clients for their referrals. After all, they're helping you grow your business and are sure to remember to provide you with referrals more often if they know their support is appreciated.

Don't wait for your workload to quieten down before you implement a referral strategy. To grow a thriving professional practice, business development needs to be part of your ongoing agenda. Developing and implementing a referral strategy can help you propel the growth of your business without the anguish of feeling you have to sell and with little investment in overheads.

Krishna De is an award-winning digital marketing, brand engagement and social media speaker, commentator and mentor. She is based in Ireland.

Krishna's digital marketing and social media agency works with some of Ireland's and Europe's leading companies both in educating their executives, marketing leaders and PR, HR, and communications professionals in how to include social media into their marketing and communications programs and in creating digital and social media programs.

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