By Sheila Walthoe.
Referrals are unquestionably a superb source of income for your business and one of the things that we are often asked here at Be Business is “How do I get referrals that convert into more business?” Well the good news is that you don’t have to invest in any type of advertising for this stream of business, and it is one of the lowest-hanging fruits in terms of easy wins to help you build your bottom line, and increase your client base at the same time.
All too often, we hear from business owners that they don’t ask their customers for referrals. Some of the reasons they give for losing out on this business growth opportunity are below:
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t have the confidence
- I don’t know what to say or do
- I don’t like making cold calls
Different types of referral schemes
We want to first address some of the points made above by way of blowing those concerns out of the water. If you are looking to get more referrals for your business, the GREAT NEWS is that you don’t need to make cold calls, you don’t really need much free-time, you don’t need to worry about what to say, and you SHOULD BE CONFIDENT and proud of your product or service.
There is a range of different ways of getting referrals that can help you increase your leads, and in turn, increase your sales. In this post, we will examine the four key types of referral that you can leverage to get more referrals for your business. These are: Customer referrals, Professional referrals, Web-Link referrals and referrals from affiliate marketing or a referral scheme exclusively for your business.
It is never too soon to ask a customer for a referral. Ok, to be clear with this point; When you have started to deliver and work is underway. This is the prime time to ask your customers for a referral.
If you don’t like making cold calls, that’s ok. You can set a reminder in your CRM or calendar and have a nicely worded email template ready to send to them. You can wait until you speak with them and drop in gently into the conversion – with a follow-up email. Or, you can add a note within your invoice to ask them to recommend a friend or business connection. Don’t be afraid to ask them to make the introduction, it softens the approach when you have a mutual connection which is advocating your products or services.
Tip for getting more customer referrals – Always ask for more than you need. Don’t limit yourself by asking for a single referral, instead, ask for five: you might only get two or three, but it’s more than one!
2. Professional Referrals
The easiest way to think about who you can get professional referrals from is to think about who or what comes before or after your product in the chain. What would the customer do before and after they purchase your product? A professional referral is essentially another professional or company that you forge a relationship with in order to get more referrals for your business. You can incentive them with financial kick-backs, you can offer a service swap, or you can agree to just send each other referrals with none of the above.
Tip for getting more professional referrals – If you are working closely with a service provider that is linked to your business, why not offer their services on a white label basis. This means package up what they offer, and host it within your overall services umbrella. For example, if you are in construction, and an architect becomes a professional referral partner: you might then want to add architectural services to your website. This gives the impression you are a bigger business that offers a more comprehensive service, it could even help to secure you work that you may have otherwise not got.
3. Web-link referrals
This one is fairly straightforward to understand but takes some strategy in order to be successful. Finding groups online, such as in social media circles, or other websites that would be happy to listen to what you have to say is a great way to get yourself and your business known. Many websites will allow guest contributors to post their blogs on their pages. That is, as long as the content is relevant and engaging. The point is, you will be an expert in your chosen field, you just need to do a little research and look online for publications or websites that would be interested to know more about your area of expertise.
Tip for Getting More Web-Link Referrals – By guest posting on sites with high traffic and an established subscriber base, you can literally get your business in front of hundreds, if not thousands of new connections. If you are considering how to leverage your contacts, this is a step beyond that, as you are now in the realms of leveraging other people’s contacts! Each time your guest post is read by someone, it will link to an author bio which will provide the reader with details about you, and your business, with a web-link referral to your site.
4. Set up a referral scheme or affiliate marketing
It depends entirely on your business model and the products or services that you offer as you what type of referral scheme you can use to help you get more leads for your business. Affiliate marketing provides the ideal solution for businesses who are undertaking mass marketing campaigns or for those who work with volume. If you are more of a boutique-style of business, then having a simple agreement with people who refer business to you, such as a 5% rebate on all revenues generated from their referrals could be a much better way to go.
A great example of successful referral scheme tactics can almost always be found at your local gym. Some places do it far better than others. However, there is almost always a refer-a-friend incentive on offer. It could be you both get a month free, or you get a free item to use in the gym. Dropbox is another really good example of this. Do you remember signing up for Dropbox? They gave you a tiny amount of storage and then increased this for each person you invited. This tactic helped the company to go viral, quite quickly, it helped them to get to 4 million users in just 15 months.
Tip for getting more referrals through a referral scheme – Tell as many people as you can about the scheme. You would be surprised at just how effective offering a financial reward to a business for a referral can be. Include it on your website or create a targeted email or mailshot out to businesses that could potentially link in with your own.
If you want to get more referrals for your business, Be Business offer expert consultants that can help you to get more leads and really grow your business. Contact a member of the team today for an initial discussion.
You can also listen to our podcast episode of “Ask The Strategist” on how to get more referrals for your business.