One of the most effective ways to maximize sales is to ask clients for referrals directly or indirectly.
A direct referral is when you ask your client for help introducing you to other prospects. An indirect referral is when you receive a call from a prospect who says that “others are talking about you” or that they “saw your information at an event / on your website / or in a publication”
Regardless of whether they are direct or indirect, referrals are the most profitable new leads you can attract to your business. Consider this; new “cold leads” close at a ratio of 75:1 on average whereas referred leads close on average 5:1. What a huge difference! Imagine making 5 calls and getting 1 sales vs. making 75 calls and getting 1 sale, That’s what referred leads can help you do.
Let’s start with direct referrals:
1. Ask your current customers for referrals. The key is to be as specific as possible. For example, don’t just adopt a generic, “do you know anyone who” approach. Instead, make a list of all the companies or people you’d like to meet, approach any existing customers who might have a contact at those new prospects, and then simply ask: “Mr. Customer, I’ve been trying to get hold of the VP of Marketing at ABC Corporation – you don’t happen to know them, do you?” If it’s one of their business partners or associates, or even just a firm that’s in the same industry or building, chances are your customer will know the person you want to meet, and will probably be only too happy to make the introduction.
2. Use success stories as part of your language. When you ask for a referral, you can also use the following approach. “Mr. Customer, our banking clients love the way we……. do you know any banks that might be interested I our X service”
3. Send thank-you notes and gifts. Send a thank-you note for every referral, and a gift for every referral that turns into business. Thank-you notes should be handwritten, on a note card or postcard that isn’t branded with your company advertising. Keep a supply of traditional, fun, theme and plain note cards handy for all occasions throughout the year. For a real treat, spoil yourself with a great fountain pen to make writing the notes something you really look forward to.
For gifts, don’t send the same old thing to everyone. Instead, take a minute to think about what your customer would really like. If they’re dedicated oenophiles, send wine. If they’re into sports, try tickets to a game. For gourmets or candy-o-holics (like myself), food baskets work wonders, and are available in almost any size, style and budget at the click of a mouse – some of my personal favorites are www.harryanddavid.com, www.elenis.com, www.candybouquet.com and www.baskits.com
One last thing – I implore you NEVER to send electronic greeting cards, no matter the occasion. E-cards look like you were too lazy or didn’t care enough to do the real leg work needed to honor your customer – and let’s face it, that’s not too far off the mark, is it?
Go the extra mile, and write a personalized note. That little extra effort is what will get you noticed – and get you more referrals. Yes, some of these ideas require you to know detailed information about your customers. But isn’t that what sales is all about?
Some ideas to attract indirect referrals include:
1. Bringing like minded people together. Create a top-of-the-class networking club. Make a list of those people in your city who you know to be well-connected, great networkers, then invite them all to come together with one catch – they have to bring someone that they think the rest of the group should meet. It’s likely this person will be a great networker, too. Ensure that your clients have a chance to talk to all the prospects in the room, that way they can sign your praises to the prospects and you will receive more inquires for your services!
When great networkers get together in the same room, the energy is unmistakable, and they share leads like there’s no tomorrow. Plus, because everyone in the room will be of the same caliber, there’ll be an even higher propensity to share, because everyone will feel like the giving and receiving is balanced.
2. Another approach that can help you develop a steady stream of referrals is to ask questions. One Engage customer doubled her referrals simply by asking the following client-focused question at the end of every client meeting:
“Our clients love the fact that we can connect them with other clients and partners, now… how can I help you?”
By putting the needs of her customers first, she demonstrates that she truly cares about them. When people sense that you care, they tend to want to return the favor. In fact, you may find that many of your customers are genuinely surprised by a question like this, because no one has ever asked them that before. And that’s why your follow-up question is equally indispensable:
“You’ve helped my business grow by becoming part of our family network. I’d like to help your business grow, too. So let me ask you – what type of people do you want to meet to help increase your revenue?”
At its most basic level, selling is relationship building. And to build a successful relationship, you have to know a few things about the other person who’s in the relationship with you. Think about it this way: if you don’t know this information about your customers, who does?
There are countless ways you can let your customers know you care and are thinking about them. Each has its pros and cons. Some work consistently but cost too much. Others are cheap and easy to implement, but don’t produce as many leads as you might want.
Try them all, and try them often, and I guarantee, you’ll start to see results – and more referrals – in no time.
Dedicated to increasing your sales,