When you ask for referrals, do your palms sweat and does your heart race? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Many people are nervous about asking for referrals for fear of damaging relationships with their current clients. Ultimately, those who don’t ask for referrals are depriving themselves of new business opportunities. That’s because for many companies, referrals are the primary method for generating new business.
Referrals are one of the most effective ways to build your base of prospects. Instead of being an unknown, you’re being referred by a trusted source. This immediately gives you an upper hand compared to others contacting a prospect without the referral.
Here are some tips for getting referrals:
Client’s communication style: Understanding your clients’ communication styles is helpful in recognizing their willingness to help you generate new business through referrals.
If the client is generally soft-spoken or hesitant about business transactions, start slowly. Begin by telling them referrals are very important to the growth of your business and you’d like to develop it with people like them. Remind the client of the benefits of your services and ask if they can think of anyone who would be interested in these same benefits.
Confirm your value: Confirm both your value as their business partner and the value of your work by asking how the client thinks you’re doing when it comes to your business relationship with them. If your client answers positively, continue by asking if they know of anyone who could benefit from your services. If the answer is negative in any way, hold off for now but try again later.
Practice on low-risk clients: Asking for referrals takes confidence and enthusiasm which takes practice. Practice with clients who won’t significantly impact your business if the relationship is adversely affected. Once you’ve acquired a few referrals and have more confidence, move your way up to “medium-risk” clients and get a few more referrals before tackling your key clients.
Thanking clients: It’s important to always thank your clients for their business. Thanking them by sending emails, cards, and gift certificates are great ideas. Making your current clients feel they’re your top priority will increase their chances of promoting your services to others.
To thank clients who’ve given referrals, send a note of thanks, or perhaps even a gift. While the gesture is up to you, always thank your clients and let them know the true value of their referrals. Many times these same clients will be a referral source for you again in the future.
Start today! While there are a variety of tactics to successfully acquire referrals, it’s up to you to find the method that works best. Don’t let another referral slip away ... use these tips to continue cultivating your referral opportunities!
This blog was written by Tammy Rohlinger, senior regional sales manager - Wisconsin