When your customers are marketing your business for you, you can spend more time earning more loyal customers.
Earning referrals from existing customers is a great way to grow your business quickly. When your customers are marketing your business for you, you can spend more time earning more loyal customers.
But most referrals happen by accident. Usually a referral results from the combination of the right customer, the right time, and the right opportunity. There’s nothing intentional about it; it just so happens you delivered a great customer experience to someone who likes to reward good service. That customer then has to be presented with an opportunity to pass along your information, usually by having someone ask them for information on your service.
But what if you could generate referrals by trying to take control of as many of those variables as possible? Here are five quick tips to generate more referrals.
Become More Referable
Before you pass go, you must analyze every way that your business interacts with customers and prospects - marketing-related or not - and inject positive, brand supporting elements into each interaction. I believe that customers want to refer, but if something goes wrong along the way, they’re much less likely to follow through. Many referrals are lost because something small, like a shipping mishap or a miscommunication with the billing department, roughed up the relationship.
Find Your Cheerleaders
First you want to find the people already referring your business. Do they have something in common? Find out and focus most of your attention on finding more customers like them.
Then turn your attention to other business relationships you may have. Who else has your ideal customer as a target? Work with your strategic partners to refer your business to each other’s customers. It will effectively double your market.
Take Time to Educate
Ever get a bad referral? It was probably your fault. Before asking for referrals, it’s important that referral sources know about your business in detail, including the products and services provided, price points, and what types of customers are a good fit. Fill your referrers in on your targets and any relevant information they may need to find you the perfect customer. They’ll feel more involved and invested in the project, and you’ll get better referrals in the end.
Motivate your Sources
Referrers do need some motivation. Like most people, they need some kind of return for their efforts. Money for referrals is usually a crummy motivation, but showing appreciation with a creative, on-message token of appreciation can be powerful motivation. Of course, saying thank you never hurts either.
Don’t Forget to Follow-up!
A referred lead is different, and you’ve got to be prepared to follow up in a different manner. In all likelihood, the sales cycle will be different as well, so plan on it. Referrals may make the client more inclined to hear your pitch and ultimately to buy from you. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy, so be sure to keep in touch regularly to show your interest in the sale.
Follow-up also includes your referral sources. Build feedback loops so that your referral sources get to know how much good they are doing by referring your business. Create key indicators of referral success and make them part of your marketing measurement dashboard.
Generating more referrals is a thoughtful, deliberate process. Look for customers who are happy with your products and services, and begin laying the groundwork to make it easy for them to send leads your way.
This article was originally published on Inc.