How to Create a Blockbuster Referral Machine that Builds Your Business
Tired of marketing like a maniac but not getting any clients? Beef up your referral systems, and soon you'll have all the clients you want.
Here are ten secrets of building a blockbuster referral machine that builds your business:
1. Network, network, network. And when I say network, I don't mean join groups and never go, or go but skulk around the sidelines, I mean network actively. Talk to people about their businesses, and about your business. Mingle with people you've only met once so that you get to know them better. Introduce yourself to everyone you don't know, and learn how you can refer to them, then teach them how they can refer to you.
2. Build a Team 100. A Team 100 is a network of 100 people with whom you have a reciprocal referral agreement. You feel comfortable referring others to them because you have personally sat down with these folks, and learned enough about their businesses to understand who will really benefit from their products or services. In the process of learning about them, they will learn about you, and so you have just expanded your circle of influence to the 300 people each of your Team 100 folks knows!
3. Refer to other people. Referrals are almost like yawns in that they spawn more of the same. I receive reciprocal referrals more often when I am referring to others, so I make it my business to refer as often as possible.
4. Ask for referrals. Ask your clients, ask your prospects, and ask your colleagues. But ask correctly. Don't ask if they know anyone who needs your services, because they might not know off the top of their heads. Sure, they know a lot of people, but may not think of the right person to refer to you unless you ask in the right way. The right way is to ask a clarifying question such as, "You're active in your neighborhood association, aren't you?" A positive response sets up your request for referrals: "Do you know anyone in your neighborhood who is also thinking about getting a new swimming pool?" That focuses the attention on a specific group, rather than on all acquaintances, which is more likely to result in an actual referral.
5. Give it away. Not your services or product, of course, but something valuable to people who are thinking about buying the services or products you have for sale. For example, you might have a free report or checklist on choosing the right professional for the job that you do. Once it becomes known (through your web site, press releases, and word of mouth) that you offer a great tool for figuring out how to buy what you're selling, you will become the go-to person for whatever it is that you offer.
6. Become visible. If you're not on the internet, you're invisible. But just one little web site isn't going to cut it these days; you need higher visibility. Get listed on your networking organizations' web sites, send out press releases, participate in community projects, and assume leadership positions in one or more of your social, business, or philanthropic groups.
7. Establish a stellar reputation. If you know that you're good, but not sure your clients are raving about you, ask them for written testimonials (but don't you dare write them yourself!). They will write much nicer things about you than you would ever write yourself, and the process reminds them of how good you are, so they are more likely to refer to you.
8. Create a rewards program for referrals. Set up a system that gathers information about how your clients heard about you, and reward those who refer to you. It can be as complicated or as simple as you like, but remember--if you promote it, you must honor it.
9. Develop strategic alliances with non-competing businesses. Find out who works with your clients before they need your services, and set up a system that funnels your clients their way, and their clients your way.
10. Reward referrals, not sales. It is your responsibility to close the sale, so always measure the success of your referral program by the number of referrals you get, not sales.
By Veronika Noize
Image by Gina Smith
This article was written by Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach. Ronnie's web site is a comprehensive marketing resource for small office/home office business professionals. For free marketing resources including articles and valuable marketing tools, visit her web site at http://www.VeronikaNoize.com, or email her at Ronnie@VeronikaNoize.com.