In sales (and in business), one of the most powerful and effective means of driving new business is through referrals. Referral business is excellent because not only does the referrer become your lead source, but they also help to establish trust and credibility. In fact, studies have shown that business sourced through referrals has a much higher chance of closing than other lead sources.
But despite being such an important sales tool, many salespeople and organizations simply don’t have any referral process or program in place. And while many referrals can happen “naturally” if you’re offering great service and delivering value, you’re also doing yourself a disservice by not actively trying to solicit referral business. Here are six things you can do start driving referrals:
1. Incorporate it into your process
If you leave asking for referrals to chance, then chances are you’ll forget about it. There are so many things competing for your attention in sales that it’s really easy to let certain activities fall to the wayside. However, if you want to close more deals, you need to incorporate referrals into your process. That means it has to become part of your day-to-day activities along with prospecting and follow-up. Once it becomes part of your process, it’ll feel like second nature and you’ll start to reap the rewards.
2. Ask at the right time
Just like asking for someone’s business, you need to ask for referrals at an appropriate point in the sales process. You certainly don’t want to ask too early or if you’re in the middle of working through a post-closing problem for your customer. A great time to ask is immediately after you’ve closed the deal, or during a post-closing follow-up call or email. It’s also perfectly ok, and even a good idea to ask prospects whose deals you weren’t able to close. You might as well try to get something out of it, right?
3. Make it easy
Most people don’t like doing extra work, so when you ask them to do something, you need to make it as easy and painless as possible. You can help make sending referrals your way easy by providing them a description of your ideal customer, or by creating a custom, easy-to-share link or email they can use. You can even go as far as offering to write up a short email or message on the customer’s behalf, although some people may balk at it. In any case, take on as much of the work yourself as you can.
4. Become a connector
An excellent, albeit long-term way to attract a lot of referral business is to become a referrer, or a “connector” yourself. You do this by cultivating a network of business contacts, and then connecting them to each other as needed. What this does is it builds goodwill among your network and will then keep you top of mind when anything related to your business comes up. People who excel at being connectors typically become the recipients of a significant amount of referral business.
5. Hold yourself accountable
There’s a saying that the grass is greener where you water it. If you want referrals, then you need to invest time, resources, and hold yourself accountable. Set daily or weekly goals for how many referrals you want, and then work backwards to figure out how many you need to ask for. You’ll be glad you did as they start to roll in after months of consistent daily effort.
6. Make sure to send a thank you
Referral business is first and foremost about good relationship building. You can’t become a magnet for referrals unless you first focus on developing relationships in your business that go further than your standard transactional business activity. So make people feel good about sending you business. Send them a thank you note every time they send someone your way. Send a gift if you’re legally and financially able to. And remember them for their birthdays and other important events. It’ll come back around to you eventually.