Referrals are one of the best ways for growing a small business, yet most companies have no formal process in place to make sure this great source for quality leads continues.
Waiting for leads to fall in your lap is not a systematic referral-generation strategy! Some people feel guilty about asking for referrals because they falsely believe they are simply asking for favors. The truth is, if you believe that the products and services you provide deliver real value to people and will benefit those who use them, you’re the one who’s doing the favor in asking for referrals… not the other way around. Achieving that mentality is the first step toward building a solid foundation for your lead-generating referral system.
Here are six steps to turn up your referral-generation machine.
- Define your most ideal referral. Your chances of finding referrals increases if you know who you’re looking for. The tighter you can articulate the demographic characteristics of your most ideal referral, the better. What are their business needs? What problems do they have that you can solve?
- Team up with matching referral partners. After defining your ideal referral, identify who would be ideal referral partners for you. Who’s already doing business and in contact with people that fit your most ideal referral profile? Find ways to provide value for them and make it easy for them to refer you.
- Build a database. Create a contact list of potential referral sources and contacts. This can help you focus your referral-generating campaigns on people who can help you the most. Great communication starts with a focused list of ideal referral partners.
- Create an incentive. Most people want to help others. You can encourage them to do what they already want to do by giving them an incentive to refer you. Incentives can be something tangible like gift cards, discounts, commissions, and other perks. A simple thank you card and other positive reinforcement goes a long way to building the goodwill generated from helping others.
- Have a referral script. It’s comforting to know what you’re going to say ahead of time in asking for a referral. Your script should be adapted for face-to-face networking, email communication, phone conversations, and mailed letters. Practice until it becomes natural and not forced.
- Set goals. An effective system includes a way to measure it. Setting referral goals and tracking results weekly is a great way to build and sustain continual momentum. Tracking your referrals also allows you to see how many referrals it takes to get one new client.
No system works without action. Start your referral-generating system by implementing and tracking the results. Ask your current network for referrals. This will give you something to build on. As you practice and gain confidence, refine your tactics and branch out to get referrals from other sources. It’s easier than you think.