There is no better selling tool for any business than the recommendation of a trusted friend or family member. Most of us look to our networks to help us decide what movie to see, where to meet for brunch and what boutique to try out. Whatever your business, chances are there are conversations going on up and down the Coffs Coast that influence whether or not a customer walks into your shop or gives you call.
You can leave these conversations to chance, or you can focus some time and effort on building a referral network. We’d recommend the latter and provide 4 tips for building a strong referral system.
When was the last time you recommended a friend check out a movie or eat in a new burger joint you thought was just ho hum? Probably never. So here’s the thing. If you want referrals you have to be much better than the competition.
When you recommend something to a friend you want to be confident that you aren’t going to end up looking bad. So trust is critical to referrals. Always deliver on time. Share your knowledge generously. Ensure that your existing customers have good reason to trust you.
Look for it
Referrals can come from a number of sources. Take the time to consider the best options for your referral network.
Existing customers are usually the best place to start when looking for referrals. Every one of your customers will have a network of friends and family who will also require similar products and services, whether you’re a plumber, lawyer or pharmacy owner.
Creating a network of strategic partners will super charge your referral network. Find non-competitive businesses with a similar customer base and shared values and consider ways to leverage each other’s customers. Consider joint webinars, a group blog or a joint sale event.
Associations such as BNI and Rotary can also provide strong referral networks. BNI is specifically structured to encourage business referrals, but any business association can start to build a network of people who trust you and your business and are prepared to send business in your direction.
Ask for It
Here comes the hardest part: if you want to create a business building referral network you have to start asking for the referral. Don’t just let your wonderful work do the talking. Let people know that you would appreciate a referral.
Consider sending a quick survey once work is completed. If a customer rates you highly call or email to thank them for their business and ask if they know someone else who could benefit from your services.
Give customers a reason to think and speak about you often by rewarding those who take the time to refer business your way. The reward could be something as simple as a thank you card or as formal as an affiliate program that pays referrers a percentage of the sale. The key is to recognise and reward those who send you business to increase the chances that they will do it again.