If your business runs on referrals, you’d better have a plan for actually getting them. That’s because referrals won’t come consistently or easily unless you take action and create a plan for getting them. After all, the hardest part about earning a client’s referral is getting them to refer you in the first place.
Some clients are happy with your work and enjoy working with you, but don’t feel any compulsion to tell their friends about you. Other clients might be satisfied enough that they’re not going to go out of their way for a referral, even if they have one on hand. It can seem like an impossible task when you want referrals from all of your past clients but only get referrals from some of them.
That’s exactly why it’s important to have a referral system in place so that you are regularly and predictably requesting referrals from your existing clients. Of course, you don’t want your request for referrals to come off as awkward or needy. Instead you want to make the referral being the obvious next step for your existing client.
But simply telling somebody “I get paid in two ways, my fee and referrals,” or asking them to write a list of five people they could refer to you doesn’t typically produce top quality referrals. That’s why you might want to get a little bit more creative. In this article I will explore five offbeat ways to earn referrals from your clients and grow your business.
Ask Your Best Clients for a Referral
This is, of course, the most obvious way to earn a referral from your current clients. If you have a good relationship with an existing client and they’re happy enough with your work that they would be willing to refer someone else to you, then you should definitely ask them for a referral.
But what’s the best way to do that?
It’s definitely not to make the request in a high-pressure fashion, like you’re asking them for money. Instead, find out what your client is looking for help with. Then give them ideas of other clients that might be able to use their services or products.
Once you’ve given them enough helpful information, then end with the inevitable question: “Do you know anybody else that would benefit from my services or products?”
This is the same way that you might ask somebody if they want to buy something. It’s straightforward but not overly pushy and makes it easy for your client to say yes without feeling like they’re doing you a favor.
Ask for a Referral When Your Client is Happiest
Your clients aren’t going to be pleased with your work all of the time. In fact, you’re probably not perfect and they might have complaints about your work from time to time.
In those moments when you’re having a disagreement or misunderstanding with an existing client, it’s probably best for you to not bring up a request for a referral. Instead, wait until the dust has settled and they’re happy with your work again. By then, they will hopefully be in a good enough mood that your request is likely to be accepted.
Leverage Linked in’s Advanced Search Feature
Understanding how to use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature might be helpful if you want to earn referrals to prospects who are connected with your current clients.
On LinkedIn, you have the option of selecting whether to search for people with whom someone (in this case your existing clients) are directly connected or searching for people who are second-degree connections.
If you have a clear idea of the types of individuals who would like to be introduced to, and your existing clients are connected with those types of people, then LinkedIn gives you the ability to connect the dots and request introductions to specific individuals.
Give the Gift of a Referral Before You Ask For One
Before asking them for a referral, find ways you can refer others to them first. This could be a personal or professional referral depending on who your client is and what they can offer others.
For example, if you have a colleague in another industry who would be interested in your client’s line of work, offer to introduce them.
You’ll often find that in the spirit of reciprocity, your client will feel compelled to follow suit and refer somebody to you. In the end, you’ll hopefully have a long-term business relationship with both of your clients.
Institutionalize Referrals As a Way Of Doing Business
Many businesses create a culture of referral among their clientele. For instance, you might run a contest for the most referrals each month or each quarter. You could also create a wall of fame with photos of your clients who have referred others. Another possibility is to host events where your clients are instructed to bring someone new as their guest.
In any case, you want to create a trust system with your clients so that they feel comfortable referring their friends and family members to your business. The more you can show them that it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, the better chance you have at earning
If you’d like to explore how you can creatively add a referral process to your business, schedule a no obligation consultation with us here.