By Mike Hirschfield —
We all know that referrals represent our greatest opportunity for peak profits and predicable growth. As Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged, “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” There is no other business strategy that can provide the compounding results that can be realized through executing the right referral strategy. It’s simple math. With only half of your customers providing just a single referral every two years, your business doubles every three years. Unfortunately for most teams, their strategy is simply to ‘ask for a referral.’ This too often leads to an awkward experience with many people avoiding the exchange altogether. There is a better way! With the right referral strategy customers actively share your message and support your business. If you are ready to get more referrals now, ask yourself these five questions: 1. Are my customers capable of referring business? In order to be capable of referring business, your customers must remember you, remember what you can do, and remember why people choose you. Our customers might know how we’ve helped them and why they said yes, but that doesn’t mean they know all the ways in which we can help. We cannot expect our customers to remember us and how we can help each time an opportunity arises unless we’re in regular communication creating engagement, sharing successes, and continually providing value. Thankfully this can be accomplished with minimal effort leveraging old tools in a new way. You already possess the contact methods and the mediums. The next step is to marry automation with personalization to maximize each interaction and compound your results. Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next level strategy that ensures they stay top-of-mind, they stay connected, and they stay relevant. 2. Are my customers compelled to refer business? Customers that are compelled to refer business are all motivated by one or more of the following three factors. First, these customers genuinely like us. When you align and connect with your customers on a personal level they not only gladly say yes, but they gladly tell others why they said yes as well. Second, these customers enjoyed a remarkable experience. They did not just have their expectations met; they had an experience worthy of a remark. What is unique and memorable about what you do and how you do it? For some it is a special gift, for others it is a special gesture, for some it is a special service, and for others, it is as simple as a special greeting and goodbye. Third, these customers genuinely want to help. These customers might want to help you because they want to see you succeed, they might want to help the people they are referring because they want to save them from an alternative and potentially bad experience, or they might want to help themselves because of an incentive or rewards program that you have in place. Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next-level strategy that compels and drives their customers to openly share their experience. 3. Do my customers know I want them to refer business? When conducting a next-level referral workshop, I often ask the class to think of a business they recently worked with where the representative met their expectations, where their experience was positive, and where their needs were met. Then I ask the individuals to raise their hands if they have referred business to that company and representative. To no surprise, very few, if any hands go up. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that doing a good job does not equal referrals. When it comes to getting more referrals now, good is never good enough! We have to ask for referrals, and then we have to continue to ask. This is accomplished by having purposeful conversations at the time of sale, after the honeymoon period, and around key dates on the calendar. A cornerstone of these conversations is the personal referral story crafted in the workshop. Each persons’ referral story is unique to them, but every story helps customers emotionally connect, conceptualize the value, and convict themselves to refer business. Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next-level strategy that creates an environment where customers know that referrals are wanted, important, and beneficial to all. 4. Is it easy for my customers to share? One thing is for certain, if we make it awkward and difficult for our customers to refer business to us, we can expect little to no referrals. Technology plays a role. With that said, there is a lot that can be done with your existing technology, without having to invest in anything new. Aside from technology, there are three things you can do to make sure it is easy for your customers to share your message and refer business. First, ask at the right time. Whether it is at the time of sale, or at a later date, there is a best time to ask. At the time of sale, it is not when you are signing agreements, or when you are saying your good-byes. When you follow up with your customers at a later date, it’s not on their birthdays, or when the new programs and incentives come out. The best times to ask are times where we can have a real purposeful conversation that strengthens our connection and compels our customers to act. Second, always put your customer first. One of the reasons why so many people feel awkward when asking for a referral is because they shift the focus from their customer to themselves. It doesn’t have to be this way. The focus should remain on the customer the entire time. After all, there is much that our customers stand to gain from referring business. Lastly, ask for the right number. One. Just one! One at a time. Too many people ask their customers to identify multiple people who might be interested. In this situation, the focus shifted away from the customer long ago. If a customer wants to refer more than one person to you at one time, great, but I recommend only asking for one. Invest your energy into that one, and it will turn into three more. Professionals who get more referrals now, execute a next-level strategy that makes it easy for customers to engage and refer business. 5. Do I share? The final question to ask yourself is: who am I referring business to? There must be people with whom you’ve conducted business that are worthy of a referral. Think about all of the people you’ve worked with over the past year both personally and professionally. What if all of those people were capable of referring business to you, were compelled to share their experience, and knew exactly how the act of referring business benefited everyone involved? One thing is for certain, when you refer business to these people, they will seek to refer business to you. Maybe not right away, but eventually the Law of Reciprocity will kick in. When you invest in the success of others, more people will want to see you succeed as well. Prioritize your efforts and begin referring business today. We all know that referrals represent our greatest opportunity for peak profits and predictable growth. Unfortunately, for most teams, their strategy is simply to ‘ask for a referral.’ Too often this leads to an awkward experience, with many people avoiding the exchange altogether. There is a better way. It all starts with answering the five questions above and executing a next-level referral strategy. If you want to build greater influence in your market and double your business every three years, focus on getting more referrals now! If you believe in the power of referrals as much as I do, reach out and share your experience. It would be my pleasure to connect.