There are three inalienable truths about building your business through referrals; you need to ask for referrals in person, you need to make it as easy as possible for someone to pass on a referral to you and you need to make the referring person aware of how grateful you are for them thinking about you and your business.
Okay there are at least 10 other truths, but start with these three and your business will thrive.
But why doesn’t your phone ring off the hook with client’s referring you to their friends and associates? I think it boils down to these three myths that many of us believe in about referrals.
Myth # 1. Customers Know What You Do and How Your Services Can Benefit Their Friends
Fact: Not in a million years. When was the last time you told them?
Never assume that they are fully aware of the many services you provide and how those services
can benefit your clients’ associates. In fact you may be surprised at how little your clients know about what services you offer. They rarely know exactly how your services can benefit their friends or associates or even if your services are appropriate for others.
If your clients are confused about which services you offer and which ones would benefit their associates, they probably won’t refer you. It is important to simplify your services and describe them in easy to understand terms that everyone can understand. It’s also important to focus on just one or two of your services when you follow up with your clients. Make it easy for your clients to refer you.
Myth # 2. Your Business is Uppermost in Your Clients’ Minds At All Times
Fact: Give your head a shake! They don’t even think about you because they are too busy with their own lives and business.
Your clients rarely think about your business and your services. They have a million more pressing matters that they must address. This is one of the most costly misconceptions small business owners have about their customers. They think their prospects and customers will remember them when they are ready to buy.
That coupon or even gift certificate you gave them six months ago is hidden under a pile of unread magazines, or under the refrigerator.
If you want to bring your business to the top of your clients’ minds, then you must follow-up with them on a consistent basis, with helpful information and special offers.
Myth # 3. Your Clients Are Always Looking for Referrals for Your Business
Fact: Not even your mother is.
Have you ever had someone hand you a stack of his or her business cards and then say, “If you come across anyone who you think might be able to use my services, please pass along one of my cards”? What did you do with those business cards? Round-filed them? Threw them away? No one keeps your business cards in their pocket just waiting for an opportunity to promote your business.
Almost always the referral comes when someone is talking to your client/customer about your particular service or business and a light goes on and they say “I know so and so and think they would be able to help / sell / assist you”.
One last stumbling block which could be myth number 4. Your clients know you need referrals to build your business. To the outside world we are all doing well and it does not appear we need business. You are probably telling people how busy you are which is a sure sign you don’t need referrals. Stop! Let people know you would like their referral business and they will start to think more about how they can help.