There can be few better presents for a business than the phone call which starts, “My friend John says that you do a fantastic job for him and I wondered if you could help me.” Otherwise known as referrals, many businesses (including some very large and successful ones) have built their entire income through word of mouth marketing.
But the amazing thing is…
Any new prospect that arrives at your door through the ‘personal recommendation’ route has got to be far more valuable than an ‘ordinary’ enquiry or a cold call. So, why is it that so few companies have a referral generating process in place? Seriously, knowing how much easier it is to convert warm leads and how much the recommendation from your existing customer has already influenced them – surely you should have a process!
With that thought, hopefully whizzing provokingly around your head, let me offer you an early Christmas present. How would you like a few tips on creating a referral generating system?
1. Customer questionnaires: This is a great way of getting feedback on what your customers love about what you do, and also being able to address the things that you could do better. Do not underestimate the power of the occasional ‘feedback questionnaire’. These are also a lovely disguise for the ‘who else do you know and could we use your name as an introduction?’ question at the end.
2. Going networking: This might not be everyone’s favourite thing, but it does work if you learn how, and there are so many different options available to choose from these days. There are organised ‘membership’ groups, casual drop-in meetings, weekly groups, monthly groups, independent networks, council run events and everything in between. The real key to any business networking though is to ‘follow up’ the people you meet.
3. Train your staff to ask: Whenever you or a member of your staff comes into contact with a customer who is happy with your service, get them to ask for referrals. This is much easier than you think and will get better results than you would imagine as well. Think about it! If a customer is happy with what you are doing, why wouldn’t they want to tell others about you?
The big one!
4. LinkedIn: This is becoming one of the most powerful business tools around for connecting people. Whatever you might think about social media generally, love it or hate it, I can’t think of many industries where LinkedIn wouldn’t help raise your profile and reach. Did you know that a new person joins LinkedIn every two seconds? That means that your next best customer is probably connected to someone you already know.
The simple steps you need to take are to ask your customers to recommend you on LinkedIn by writing a testimonial. Then you can ask your connections to introduce you to people that they know, either specifically or generally. It works, I promise you and will help your business to grow. You can bet that, when John recommended you to the imaginary person who called you earlier, his friend would have Googled you before calling and probably found your LinkedIn profile.
Happy Christmas… Since I’ve been sharing gifts (and it is Christmas), I thought I might ask for one in return. If you are one of my customers and you can spare a few minutes.
Please, would you write a testimonial for me? Simply go to my profile (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/paulmeades) hover over the ‘send a message’ button and press ‘recommend’.
Many thanks and enjoy the Christmas break J