A glorified term for word-of-mouth marketing, referral marketing, is one of the most effective and enticing forms of generating or enhancing sales. In this day and age of fast pace business and cutthroat competition, companies don’t waste tip-toeing for leads or sales, they are upfront, open and quick with marketing their business. Platforms like BNI have been of tremendous help for growing businesses to network and increase their customer/client base. But such platforms aside, networking will convert to sales only if one has a strong referral strategy.
One of the best things about referrals is that they are personal. Those who know you and your business, the quality of your work/service and your expectations are going out of their way to get you business. Referral sources are reliable, but you must remember they are referring you to someone who is close to them. So all in all this is an interpersonal network, which comes with a lot of responsibility and trust! They want to keep their relationship intact with the person who they making the referral to and so they will have to be satisfied with your service to refer you.
Cut to the chase by asking for an introduction. If you constantly attach the term referrals to them, you might end up developing an estranged relationship rather than a personal one. You know them, they know you; go ahead and ask them for an introduction, that shows you are comfortable with them and have no fear of asking them. This feeling that you like and trust them, and are so open with them; will just get them closer to you. They realise they are more than just referrals.
Make sure you are clear about the kind of introduction you are looking for, so that your referral knows who to put you in touch with. Right from sharing your business status and expectations, and who you think is the best fit to make an offer, your referrals should have an idea about what you need so that they don’t feel the burden is on them to start from scratch. Speaking about sharing information, get you referrals too to talk. What they think about your product/service, is it shareable, who they think will benefit from our offer, et al. After all this is a mutual effort; you need to know if your referral is convinced of your service, then only will you know to what extent they will help you.
Set a target for yourself. Ask for one introduction per day which will eventually lead to 250 per year; which is quite a sizable amount. These numbers will hold you accountable and push you to reach the desirable target. Host exclusive, invitation only events to attract new clients. Invite your clients and your prospects and you will you clients doing your selling for you.
And of course; you must say your thank you to your referrals. Apart from promotional strategies like discounts or gift coupons, you can go a step further like sending them a bottle of exquisite wine or chocolates with a handwritten note or gifting them a dinner for two. This shows your appreciation and affection to them and to your relationship with them.
With something as important and delicate as referral strategies, you must keep in mind that though business pursuits build the foundation to your relationship, there is a strong understanding of personality and development of friendship keeps this ship afloat!