The Secret Art to Asking for Referrals
Trust is a big issue when it comes to doing business. Customers are looking to work with companies that they can depend on and that they can trust to do the job well. For that reason, one of the best ways for a company to gain new clients is to have current customers refer their colleagues and business acquaintances to the company. But getting referrals can be tricky. You might feel awkward asking for a referral, as you might think that doing so makes you look desperate for new business. Current customers or clients might want to help you, but might not necessarily think of mentioning your company to a colleague.
Asking for referrals–and getting them–involves a bit of art. Here’s what you can do to increase your business and build your customer base.
Know Who to Ask
Some customers are going to be more likely to give you a referral than others. The key is to identify those customers and ask them for referrals. One way to get a sense of who’s likely to recommend you to other clients is to run a survey. Ask customers to complete a survey after they make a purchase or after your company provides a service. Surveying customers will give you a sense of how happy they are with your company, or not.
To get an idea of how likely people might be to refer you, one of the survey questions should be something along the lines of “how likely are you to recommend our company to others?” You can have customers answer on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not likely and 10 being very likely or have them choose “not likely” “maybe likely” or “very likely.” You can also ask the customer to explain why he or she would or wouldn’t recommend you.
When customers return the survey to you, can sort out the responses who said that they are very likely to recommend you or who chose 9 or 10 and follow up with them about a referral.
Know When to Ask
Getting referrals is about getting the timing right. For example, if a customer is coming to you with a complaint, that’s not a good time to ask him or her to refer you to others! But if a customer thanks you for helping him or her solve a problem or if a customer is providing you with a good review or testimonial, either instance can be the perfect opportunity for asking him or her to refer you to others.
Another option is to make asking for referrals part of your contract with a customer. At the start of a project, you can ask a client to give you X number of referrals if he or she is happy with your work. That might feel like a forward thing to do, but if your company ends up delivering on its promises or over-delivering on its promises, a client is likely to be more than happy to recommend you to people he or she knows.
Follow Up Afterward
When a client does give you a referral, and that referral turns into new business for your company, the polite thing to do is to follow up with the first client. Send an email or letter or call him or her. Thank the customer for the referral and state that you appreciate their help. You might consider offering the referring client an incentive as a part of saying thanks. For example, you can offer a discount on service the next time the client works with you.
Give Referrals Yourself
One way to get referrals is to freely give out referrals yourself. If you have a client who needs a particular service or product, and you know of someone (perhaps another client) who does a great job with that particular service, go ahead and make the referral. Remember that part of building relationships in business is giving more than you receive. If you’re ready to help your clients, odds are likely that they will be ready to help you when needed.
The team at New Direction Capital understands the importance of referrals for helping your business grow. To learn more about how we can help your company, contact us today.
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