How To Get More Referrals
This is the first of a number of articles I intend to write about referrals.
I split referrals into two categories:
- solicited referrals
- word of mouth
A solicited referral is where you ask the client for the name of someone you could contact (or that the client could contact on your behalf).
A word of mouth referral is when a client goes out into the world, notices someone that would benefit from doing business with you, and tells him about you.
Both of these types of referral can be increased dramatically with the use of effective referral systems and scripting.
However, today, Iím only going to talk about the latter type, word of mouth.
This is when the client believes that he had an excellent experience doing business with you and wants the people he knows to benefit in the same way.
So, how can we make this happen more often?
A study I read recently claimed that, if a customer has a bad experience with a business, he tells eleven people. However, if he has a positive experience, he only tells four people.
suggests that there are two areas where we can increase word-of-mouth business:
(1) We can increase the number of clients who feel theyíve had a good experience
(2) We can increase the average number of people they tell.
Iím going to give you some ideas that will help you achieve this.
(1) Increase the number of people who feel theyíve had a good experience
The key word here is ďfeelĒ.
all, you could do a great job for a client but, if the client canít appreciate
what youíve done for him, heís not going to feel youíve done an great job.
Iíll give you an example from my own life.
A number of years ago, I hired an Estate Agent when I wanted to buy a flat. It was the first time I had ever hired an Estate Agent, so I had no real idea what to expect.
Did the Estate Agent do a good job for me?
Iíve no idea. He may have been good. He may have been poor. He may have been average. Iíve no idea, as Iím not capable of telling the difference between a good Estate Agent and a poor Estate Agent.
And, because I couldnít tell if he did a good job, I couldnít feel confident recommending him, so I never sent him any referrals.
And, three years later, when I moved again, because I couldnít appreciate what he did for me, I had no motivation to use him again and used a different firm instead.
However if, when I first used him, he had walked me through all the things he had done for me and helped me understand how he had served me well, I would have been able to appreciate the quality of his work.
Then Iíd have felt comfortable enough to advise my friends and family to use his services, and I would have used him when I moved three years later.
So, if he did a good job for me, he made a big mistake that cost him a lot of business.
He probably felt that, if he did offered a good service, clients would automatically understand this.
This is a big mistake. Donít assume people will understand what youíve done for them. Itís your job to help them understand. Itís you job to educate them
How do you do this? One way is to have a unique selling point that positively differentiates you from your competitors. Another is to walk the client through what youíve done so he can see where the exceptional service was and can understand what it means to the result.
(2) Increase the average number of people they tell
The second way to increase word-of-mouth is to increase the number of people the client tells about his positive experience.
Just by explaining to him how you have exceeded your competitors should increase this number. After all, itís a lot easier to recommend a service when youíve a clear understanding of the benefits that service brings.
A more powerful way is to take the advantage youíve shown the client and frame word-of-mouth referrals as a good deed he does, not for you, but for his friends, family and colleagues.
Letís face facts, unless your client is a close friend, heís not going to do as much for you as he would do for his friends.
You might as well accept this and use it in your favour. When you ask your client to mention you to his family and friends, the request should be made from the position of him helping his friends get the same benefit that he got from doing business with you.
Using the Estate Agent as an example again, you could say something like:
ďWeíve gone over the money you gained by working with me, and weíve agreed that youíre £x better off as a result. And thatís come from the things I do that my competitors donít.
ďNow, I know that, in your life, there are people you care about, people you want the best for. And there are going to be times when these people are going to be thinking about moving home.
ďAnd, because you care about them, youíre going to want them to get the best price for their home.
ďSo, to help them get that, itís probably in their interests to at least know about the quality of the work Iíve done for you.
ďWhether they choose to ask me to help them or whether they go with someone else, youíre going to know that youíve done your part as their friend and made sure they knew their options, so they can make the best choice and get the service they deserve.Ē
Now, compare that to what Estate Agents usually say (ďIíll give you some of my cards. If you know anyone whoís moving home, ask them to call meĒ).
Can you see that doing things my way might get a greater result?
And you can use a variation of this if youíre a financial advisor, a plumber, a web designer Ö or pretty much any other service business.
Of course, this is based on you offering a genuinely exceptional product or service.
If you donít do that, if youíre only run-of-the-mill, change that.
Itís simply not worth being average. In most industries, itís so much easier to build quality into your business than it is to struggle along as just ďone of the crowdĒ.
If youíre exceptional (even if that excellence is only beneficial to a segment of the market), you can use these techniques (and others) to get a huge number of testimonials and create tremendous client loyalty.
And thatís when business becomes easy and fun. And thatís the only business that I think is worth having.
However, if for some reason, you canít create something exceptional, you should, at least, be exceptional as a person.
An Estate Agent I met would send every client a gift (usually a card, a bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine) when they moved into their new home.
She knew that, when people move home, they invite their friends and family to visit. These guests would see the big bunch of flowers and ask who sent it.
So, theyíd learn that this person has an Estate Agent who is personal and thoughtful. And theyíd probably remember that, when they moved home, all their Estate Agent sent them was the bill.
So, the Estate Agent would end up picking up some clients for this small investment in customer care.
I hope that this newsletter has given you some tools that you will use to bring in extra business.
Weíve only touched the tip of what you can do to get more referrals. Iíve not even talked about solicited referrals or how you can use incentives and rewards to encourage your clients to send you even more business.
In the future, Iím going to write about these and other techniques that you can use to further increase the number of referrals you get.
If you donít feel like waiting - if you want all the referrals your business deserves (and you want them now) - I teach businesses how to get more referrals when I create marketing plans for them.
To learn more about this, please click here.
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