This week? This month? Never?
Here at SBCA, asking for referrals is something we do as a matter of course as part of our lead generation efforts. Why not try it for your business and ask your happy customers? These are my top tips for where you could start, based on our experience.
Chris’s top tips on asking for referrals
1. Have a system
It will probably be something like this:
- Work out how and where to ask for a referral (and from which of your contacts)
- Ask! (Not sure what to say? Keep reading)
- Follow up your request if necessary
- Respond quickly to any referrals received
- Remember to say thank you to the source of the referral
To be honest, we tend to find we get most referrals when we actually ask people in person – perhaps in a meeting. It’s useful to warn people in advance if you’re going to do this.
2. Make it part of your dialogue
You can introduce the idea of referrals by asking on feedback forms, email footers, invoices etc. If you do this, be specific where you can. That way, it’s easier for people to think of someone.
So for example:
“Do you know anyone at the golf club who wants to grow their business?”
“Do any of your customers need an accountant with a fresh approach?”
3. Decide how often to ask
You don’t want to make a nuisance of yourself or damage your relationship with your client so do think about this. Maybe asking at a meeting once or twice a year might be appropriate, backed up by gentle reminders in correspondence every so often.
4. Be ready if someone suggests a referral to you
While you’ll probably not want to take up more of your client’s time than you have to, it’s worth thinking if there any questions that might make the difference between a successful approach, or not. For example:
“If you were me, what would be the best way to get in touch with xxx? Should I give them a call once you’ve spoken to them, or do we all go out for a coffee?”
Regardless of how you think it’s best to proceed, ask your contact to get permission to pass on data.
So, of course, I can’t finish this article without asking: do you know a business owner – whether that’s a client, supplier or networking contact, whom you think would benefit from our services? If so, I would be most grateful if you would let me know. If we get to meet the person you mention, we do like to send you a case of wine or a food hamper as a thank you.
This article was originally published in our Beyond The Numbers newsletter. To subscribe, please drop the team an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.