Popping the question: when and how to request referrals

Anthony O'Brien


November 6, 2017

Talk to any business owner and positive word-of-mouth referrals will be high on their list of desirable outcomes.

For starters, a referral is an easier sales proposition, as the lead will have more trust in your services from the get-go. And best of all, a referral is low cost and has a negligible marketing cost. You simply need to consistently deliver a quality service.

Here are some steps you can take to maximise your referral business.

Don’t be afraid to ask

A happy client is always willing to go the extra mile to help you, especially if you regularly deliver above their expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask your existing clients for a referral. Many people baulk at this step; however, it’s less frightening than you might think.

Whether you should ask a client for referrals depends on whether they trust you. If you tick that box, then ask away. How you ask is up to you. Some firms we’ve worked with have a formal procedure for referrals; others are less official.

Usually, the best time to ask for a referral is during an existing conversation, such as an existing client call, rather than ringing out of the blue. If you decide to make a move, it might be best to ask for referrals once you’ve covered the client-related matters on the agenda.

Encourage your existing clients to participate

Using rewards is a valuable way to encourage your clients to refer you to new business. You might offer a financial reward, such as a discount on your services. Alternatively, gifts such as tickets to a concert could be a great way to thank a client for a revenue-producing lead. If you’re getting a referral, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a reference or a case study. It gives you a longer-term benefit for the positive services you offer.

 Referral timing and other tips

  1. Asking the right client for a referral at the right moment: As suggested above, timing is everything; you must avoid asking for a referral when a client is busy, flustered or involved in a negotiation with you. Bungle the timing and the result can be disastrous.
  2. Stay positive: Make the client realise you’re asking for a referral because you value their business and the strength of your relationship. You’re asking for referrals because you know they understand your abilities and will know contacts who are like-minded and have similar challenges to solve.
  3. Avoid desperation: Don’t make it seem like you’re too eager for your client’s help. Asking for a referral is a bit like dating. Your clients will smell desperation a mile off.
  4. Don’t waste time: Avoid wasting the valuable time of your clients – and yours for that matter.

When you deliver valuable financial advice and you’ve established your client recognises this value, then asking for a referral is a reasonable next stage in your developing commercial relationship.

TOPICS:   business development,  marketing,  marketing blog,  REFERRALS,  word of mouth

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