Your business with either thrive or die based on the referrals you receive. That may sound like an outlandish statement, but if you were to carefully examine how your customers found you, more than likely a significant number came onboard because they were referred by others to you. Business referrals are one of the most cost effective ways to win new customers, with very little marketing money expended in the process.
Here’s how to get referrals for your business:
1. Help a current customer.
Certainly, you could ask a customer to provide referrals to you. However, you risk straining that relationship if you put pressure on them to perform. Likely, most of your top customers are very busy and have little time to refer people to you. Even so, there is one way you can get referrals from them: by helping them.
That helping can come in a number of ways, such as in doing a customer a favor. For instance, if your customer orders a product, you could deliver it directly to her place of business instead of requiring her to stop by to pick it up. Further, you might set up the product or equipment yourself, especially if there is urgency on her part to use it. That equipment might be a copy machine or a coffee maker, whatever product you sell. Going the extra mile for a customer promotes goodwill and will also result in you getting referrals from her as she shares her immense satisfaction with others.
2. Make referring easy.
One reason why your customers may not be referring people to you is because you make it difficult for them to do so. Thus, you need to examine how people might be referred to you. For instance, you might include some business cards with your correspondence, making it easy for people to pass out your card.
Beyond that, the previous favor you did for your customer will not go unnoticed. She will be more likely to remember your kindness and automatically mention your good deed to people she deals with. Further, you may find that she’ll take time out of her busy schedule to contact you with someone you can call directly.
3. Incentivize your approach.
Certainly, money talks and when a monetary equation is part of the referral process, you may be on to something. Here, you need to carefully consider how you might win new customers through people you know, including local businesses, charities and organizations.
For example, if you own a bakery, you might approach local businesses to ask them to refer their customers to you. That hair salon might not seem like a natural ally, but the stylist who is good at talking up people could refer a customer who is looking for a wedding cake. You might supply the stylist with a special business card for her to hand out with the promise that any referral will result in a cash contribution to her. Giving this woman $25 for a $500 wedding cake referral isn’t much money to you, but it could be to the stylist.
4. Create goodwill. Lots of it.
Not everything your business does will provide direct referrals. Instead, there are some options for bringing in new customers through the goodwill that you create. Specifically, your outreach to the community in the form of sponsorships, donations and other assistance.
For example, you might sponsor a girl’s softball team or a boy’s soccer team. Through that sponsorship, the league typically asks families to patronize supporting businesses.
You might also make a donation to a charity with your company’s name emblazoned on a program guide or website. Your gifts or support could be spread to multiple organizations, creating much goodwill and remembrance from people who use those services or offer their support too.
Business Referral Considerations
Your enterprise can enjoy much success if you personalize your approach too. Saying “thank you” is important as is writing a personal note of thanks to someone and mailing it the old-fashioned way. Consider a plethora of distinctive processes for garnering new customers and test each one. Evaluate same and go with the business referral stratagem that works best for you.