There are a myriad of books, seminars, and sales coaches that all emphasize the importance of referrals. You find the idea of “having more business than you can handle” from referrals intoxicating. No more marketing! The simple truth is referral marketing is marketing. Just like any other type of marketing, it demands investment of money, time, and share of mind.
In order to save you some money on all those expensive seminars and coaches, let me tell you the number one way to generate referral business: You have to ask for it. That is it. If you have repeat customers, ask them for referrals. When the buyer of your project is smiling wide because you delivered on time and under budget, ask for referrals. Your prospect decided to put the project on hold, but he really liked your proposal, ask for referrals.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while asking for the referral:
- You are not asking for a favor – Why wouldn’t people who know and trust your work want their friends and collegues to benefit from your services? If it feels like you are asking for a favor, STOP. You should not be asking this person.
- Get the contact information – Do not count on an “I’ll give them a call for you.” Explain that you prefer to explain your services, and you would prefer to follow-up directly. Get the name and number, or explain that you will wait a few days and then get the name and number. A request for an extra business card for “a guy I know who might be interested” is NOT a referral.
- Reciprocate – Even if you are not provided any referrals, ask if the other person is interested in referrals. Most people do not ask for them, and simply asking if they are interested in referral business will add to your relationship with them, even if you do not have any referrals immediately in mind.
Referral marketing is marketing, and you should not make it your only growth strategy. Consistently and properly done, however, asking for referrals is a great way to grow your business.
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