Have you ever had a potential customer tell you that they’d like more information about your product or service? Or maybe they asked if they could talk to another customer who has used the same thing? That’s great.
It means that you’ve done an excellent job of getting your prospects interested in what you offer. But it also means they’re considering buying from someone else, which is not good.
The only way to solve this problem is by asking for referrals from your clients (and customers) to turn them into new customers without investing more money into advertising.
When you ask for referrals, you must reach out to people who are likely the most helpful. One way to do this is by narrowing down your customer list based on their relationship with your business and team.
Reach out to customers who have already referred you. It’s not always easy for customers within an organization or company (especially if there are multiple departments) to guide others, so speaking directly with someone who has referred a colleague can help streamline the process and make things feel more natural.
Reach out for referrals from team members who are close friends with your current clients—particularly when they have shared goals or interests outside of work and inside it. Reach out to customers who have already referred you.
It’s not always easy for customers within an organization or company (especially if there are multiple departments) to guide others, so speaking directly with someone who has referred a colleague can help streamline the process and make things feel more natural.
The ask should feel natural. If it doesn’t, then you’ll need to work on the conversation until you can make it feel natural. You should be able to get a referral during a normal conversation without having to craft a particular sentence or add extra emphasis.
It’s also important that your prospect understands the referral and why they should refer someone else (and not just because you are asking them). This could mean explaining things like:
The referral will help both parties by allowing them to expand their network.
The referred person may have more experience or knowledge than the one being asked for referrals. So even if your prospect doesn’t know them personally, they might be able to give helpful insight into who they think would benefit most from working with you.
You should also be aware that it will be insincere if your conversation is too focused on asking for referrals. The best way to avoid this is by having a natural conversation and letting the referral request come up naturally.
When you ask for referrals, you want to ensure that your timing is right. The best time to approach a customer for referrals is when they’re not busy or distracted by something else.
Don’t call at dinner time or on the weekends, and don’t interrupt a meeting—instead, schedule a phone call during the week when they’re likely to be able to talk with you uninterrupted.
If you can’t get a meeting with your customer, send them an email instead. Describe the need for referrals and ask if they know anyone else who might be able to help. If you’ve done an excellent job helping your customer solve their problem, they’ll be more likely to want to make sure that others benefit from your expertise.
When asking for referrals, the most important thing to remember is to be sincere. If you’re not, your customer will know it, and they won’t bother passing along your contact information.
Also, don’t expect immediate results—it may take some time before anyone contacts you about a new project or job.
The key to getting referrals is being helpful. If you’re unsure what kind of help your customer needs, ask them about it during your initial meeting.
Show up at the right time. When customers are happy and satisfied, they’re significantly more likely to refer you than when they’re frustrated or angry.
So it’s essential to try to show up during those moments where they’ve had a positive experience with your product or service.
Ask for referrals when the customer is happy. If there’s one thing we know about human nature, people like talking about themselves—so make sure you ask for referrals when your customers are already in an excited state of mind.
For example: “Hey Jim—I love working with awesome companies like yours. Was there anything particular about our services that made them great for you?”
On the other hand, don’t just run out and ask everyone who gives you five stars on Facebook (or even three stars).
You don’t want anyone who comes across as insincere when asking for a referral; this will only create barriers between yourself and potential clients later down the road.
The reason it’s so important to show what’s in it for them is that it shows that you’re interested in their success and care about their success, two things that make people want to help you. It also demonstrates that you have a solution that will help them succeed.
To do this:
- Think of your referral partner as a consultant and yourself as the client trying to solve a problem together.
- Ask yourself: “What would my client need me to show before they agree to work with me?”
- Ask: “How would I want my clients to present themselves if I were working with them?”
- The answer to the first question will help you understand what your referral partner needs from you and how you can meet that need.
The answer to the second question will tell you how to present yourself in a way that motivates your referral partner.
The better you show what’s in it for your referral partner, the more likely they will refer you.
Remember, you have to make it easy for people to refer you. Don’t ever pressure them into giving referrals or making them feel like they owe you one.
If someone is willing to provide a referral, they already like working with you and want everyone else to experience the same.