Over 85% of business comes from referrals!
I read this stat in a book. I strongly believe a large percentage of business comes about through referrals – directly or indirectly as a recommendation. Remember that when you view someone’s website and read a recommendation saying how great that business is … could it be argued that your decision was based to some degree on that person’s recommendation? Referring is everywhere. I found my dentist through a referral by one of my staff. My accountant, solicitor, massage therapist, website designer all came from referrals. Someone I trusted said “yes, they are good” and so I connected to them and usually (99% of the time) have a great purchase experience.
So, the question you are no doubt asking is “How do I grow my own business using referrals?”
1. Get the right mindset
Asking for a referral or introduction is not a bad thing. For those of us in business, we (mostly) want more business and that can mean also more customers or clients. Just like my other blogs “Sales is not a Dirty Word” asking for a sale is not peacocking or hounding people. Being confident in business (or what you do) is not peacocking. Asking for a referral, introduction or recommendation is perfectly fine and a great business growth strategy. Remember that stat above (85%) so why wouldn’t you?
2. Know your ideal referral
Ok, before you can ask anyone for a referral or introduction, be sure you know what you’re looking for? Can you describe what you do in 30 to 60 seconds? (Many businesses cannot, so if you cannot, work on this). Who would be your perfect introduction? Can you describe them? Can you clearly and succinctly say why a prospect would want to work with you and how you can help them? Get super clear on your messages, so that your message is super clear.
3. Start doing it yourself
Get into the practice of giving referrals and recommendations. The reason is that ‘what comes around, goes around”. Givers are receivers and if you are giving referrals and recommendations then that ‘pay it forward’ or even reciprocal appreciation will occur. I’m not saying give purely in order to receive, although by doing so it will happen. In fact, be of high integrity and only recommend someone you know who is excellent, reputable and will make you look good. You don’t want to recommend someone you really don’t know, then it goes bad and the person blames you for a crummy recommendation. I will never publicly sledge someone I’ve had a bad experience with – however, I will likely never recommend them.
Firstly, begin asking for recommendations. Make the asking personal (I doubt a request in your next newsletter to your entire database will achieve much) but a personal request (especially of those who you know love what you do) will usually be actioned. Striking whilst the iron is hot (when they have just informally said how wonderful you are) is ideal – asking them if you could use their kind words or would they like to put that into a review.
If you do want to take the ‘global’ asking strategy – watch ‘sweetening the pot’ and offer something and make it more of a competition or “go in the draw to win”. This is ok for a ‘Like’ but I would not do this for a Review or Recommendation … as you are now essentially ‘buying’ your reviews.
5. Make it easy!
Do not make it hard for someone to give you something (money, a recommendation or business). Let’s talk review. You could say “go to my website and leave a review” but now you’re asking me to make the time to (a) find your website (b) find out where I can leave a review and (c) do it. Put out steps 1 and 2 and just give them the link so they are there – nice and easy.
6. Join Facebook Groups
There are a string of social media groups which specifically gear around asking and receiving referrals. One example, I am an Admin of Redlands Business Referrals which is specifically for giving and receiving referrals for people living, working or doing business in the Redlands (Queensland). Refer to the first point above … don’t just expect or ask, be sure to also be giving.
7. Work LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an exceedingly powerful professional network … where for some businesses they can generate a massive amount of income. It starts with creating an exceptional profile, building your network and then developing those relationships. That is a whole other subject, but needless to say, LinkedIn can be an exceptional strategy for many businesses.
8. Join Business to Business Networking Groups
There is a large range of business networking groups in Australia. Start with your local Chamber, where doing business with other members is encouraged, through to specific Referral Networking groups which traditionally limit one member per industry category per group. So for example, I am in one group where I hold the category of Business Coach. This means that no other business coach can join the group whilst I’m a member, so I am not competing for referrals within my group (or chapter). There are quite a few groups like this around, such as BNI (Business Network International), MNG (My Networking Group), KBN (Key Business Network) … just to name a few. If you are unsure of how to successfully network or give or receive referrals, check out my Networking Mentor page.
9. Don’t underestimate social or family networks.
Social and family groups can be effective too – if they know you are looking for work and how to refer to you. In the business to business networking groups, members are taught how to give and receive referrals (I’ve been an Education Officer, Ambassador, Networking Coach etc) but your friends and family may not know so well – so it might help to give them some guidance in this respect.
10. Reward Referrals
Whilst I’m not a huge fan of this personally (I like to refer because someone is good, not because I’ll get a kickback or referrers fee) the fact is that money does talk. Some real estate agents will offer around $500 for a successful referral upon the settlement of the property. That would certainly motivate many people to think about referring. Alternatively, you could offer the $500 either as a gift card for you or a donation to your favourite charity. That softens the ‘deal’ and gives those an option to be charitable or profitable. If you do offer this, be sure to follow through – otherwise, that will likely be the last referral that person gives you! Not only because of the money but because you are not a person of your word.
11. Host events and ask people to bring a friend
Asking people to bring a friend (who is not a customer of yours) to an event or invite to a webinar is a great strategy. You might incentivise this and perhaps offer both the invitee and inviter perhaps a free eBook or something of value to them but low cost to you. Saying “please share this” prompts people to do just that … potentially giving you the opportunity to go ‘viral’.
12. Build a plan and start it today
Like with any marketing strategy, you should have a plan and strategy around getting referral-based business. As a business coach, I work with many clients on improving and growing their sales funnels, lead generation strategies and improving their sales processes. Referrals, introductions and networking are just part of that strategy and should be part of your business growth plan.
If I can help you in any way please give me a call on 0411 622 666 or complete the Enquiry Form on my Contact page.