Referrals can be one of the most effective ways to build your business.
It’s a fact.
People would rather do business with people they know rather than with strangers.
When you’re introduced to a prospect through a personal recommendation, that prospect has a much higher comfort level than someone you find by cold calling. After all, few things are more reassuring than a positive endorsement from someone you know and trust.
So why is it that, while we all want referrals, we don’t pursue them as much as we should?
It’s a matter of developing good habits.
Imagine your business as an infinite web of relationships.
Every one of your contacts has the potential to connect you to dozens of their contacts. All those relationships are out there, but it’s likely they will remain out of reach unless you actively pursue them. It may never occur to your current contacts to provide an introduction. It’s up to you to put the idea in their head.
Don’t feel awkward about asking for referrals; there is nothing pushy about it. In fact, getting a referral is the highest compliment you can receive. Next time you are in your doctor’s office look at the sign by the receptionist, it probably says; “thank you for your referrals” or “referrals to family and friends are greatly appreciated.” Let your friends, family members and your contacts know you really appreciate referrals, which you will earn by providing excellent quality products and services.
Here are some easy ways to start developing good referral-generating habits:
1. Always ask for referrals when you are face-to-face with your contacts. It’s not only more respectful, but it’s more fruitful.
People are much more likely to do something for someone standing right in front of them.
However, it is acceptable to ask for referrals by email or by phone if face-to-face encounters with your contacts are unusual or infrequent.
An example would be if you have friends or relatives living in an area some distance away where you would like to expand your business.
2. Whenever someone compliments you, respond with a thank you, quickly followed by a referral request.
For example; “thanks! I appreciate that. By the way, do you know anyone else who could benefit from whatever your product or service offering is?”
3. Use every meeting you attend as an opportunity to ask for referrals.
To keep yourself on track, jot a reminder down in your meeting preparation notes.
Make it one of your standard talking points.
4. Make it a habit.
Set a weekly goal for yourself.
Keep track of the number of referrals you ask for each day.
You don’t need to limit your referral requests to clients, also ask business associates, acquaintances and prospects for referrals.
5. Make the most of every networking opportunity.
When you have your follow-up meeting, make sure you ask for referrals.
Especially if the person you are meeting with is not interested in your business.
Say something like; “I’m sorry you feel that this opportunity isn’t right for you at this time, but do you know of anyone else I can talk to about it?”
Do not walk away without at least one solid referral.
Better yet, try for 2 to 3.
Sometimes the very act of asking for a referral from someone who says “no” will re-open the opportunity for them.
This is because they now experience how easy it is to think of others they know that would be interested in the business.
Once people start sharing their referrals with you, they are more likely to give you more than one.
After they share that one referral with you say something like: “Thanks so much for that referral. Can you think of anyone else who would find my business or products interesting?”
Be specific when asking for a referral. Be as detailed as possible.
Are you looking for high net worth individuals?
Then say so. Interested in non-profits?
Let them know.
If you don’t tell your contacts who your target prospects are, you’ll waste time pursuing referrals you can’t use.
One of the most powerful ways to elicit referrals is to give them generously yourself.
Whenever you have the opportunity to refer an associate or bring two contacts together, be sure to do so.
And when you’re attending general networking events, make a point of introducing people to one another.
Most people will appreciate the introduction, and it may inspire them to respond in kind.
Become a “connector” and people will reply in kind!
Always thank someone who has given you a referral.
Send them a note and keep them informed of your progress.
And maybe even treat them to lunch.
Remember this: the typical person knows about 25 people who they can comfortably refer.
Thus, every time you meet one new person and develop a relationship based on the fact that he or she now feels as though they know you, like you and trust you you’ve actually just increased your personal prospect list by a potential 25 people, every single time.
Do this often enough and before long, you’ll cultivate a network of endless referrals.
And they cost you virtually nothing but the time it took to ask for them.
How’s that for a smart way to build your business?