Unfortunately, asking for referrals is also very often overlooked when it comes to our own business. Maybe you're afraid to sound pushy. Just remember what I said above: People love to share. If you make asking for referrals a regular process you can make this a growth factor in your business. The key is to do it and make sure you do it right.
There are just a few things you should be aware of first. First and foremost, before you even think about asking for a referral your customer service has to be impeccable. If your service is lacking your customers won't recommend you. Everyone wants to know that their opinion is valued and will not risk ruining their reputation to help your business. On the tail end of that statement make sure that you also provide impeccable service to the person your customer referred to you. You don't want someone to regret referring your service. No one wants to be embarrassed.
To get you started here are a few ideas on the right way to get referrals:
1. The first way to get referrals is the most basic but requires the right wording to be successful. Simply asking "Do you have anyone you can refer my business to" is NOT the right way. The question is too broad and your results won't be that great. The right way starts with knowing your customer and knowing what kind of referral you're looking for. Taking the time to build a relationship goes a long way. See using the FORM technique (will discuss this further in another article). Once you know more about your customers you can personalize your request and help them visualize the kind of people you want them to refer.
Here's an example: "Debra, your a member of the PTA at Juniors school right?"
"Do you still go to their meetings regularly?"
"Is there anyone else whose involved in the PTA that you think could benefit from my services? Maybe one or two people that you've known for a while, or that you sit next to regularly?
Notice how asking about a place or group of people will automatically give your customer of a mental picture of where to begin. Walk them through by suggesting who to start with - people they already talk to or sit with. Then relieve some of the pressure by letting them know that you're only looking for one or two people, a "doable" number. By giving them a number you're letting them know that they don't have to fear making a general announcement to their entire group.
2. Another great idea is to write a letter to your customers asking for help. Try thanking them for being a valued customer and express how much you appreciate their business. As a thank you, you can (a) include a punch card for them and a friend or (b) offer free gifts or discounts for them and a friend or (c) offer free gifts or discounts for each referral who places an order.
3. Use the "I'll scratch your back, if you scratch mine" concept. Offer to get referrals to help their business and give them lots of referrals. Again, knowing more about this person comes in handy here. For example, if your customer is also an owner of a craft center offer to share their business cards with your customers or your team.
4. Last but not least, whenever a referral places an order, call and thank the person who recommended your service. As an extra token of appreciation gifts are always well received. Saying thank you is a small step that makes a really big difference. Not only does it strengthen your bond, and improve your professional image but it will also encourage your customers to send you more referrals.
When generating referrals the opportunities are endless. Remember the article on Exponential growth? The same concept applies to customers. What will happen if just 1 person shares your business with 2 other people and those 2 new people each share your business with another 2 people, and on, and on, forever? The opportunities are endless here, be creative!
Which one of these ideas will you start implementing to grow your business in the next week? Please share your thoughts.
Was that article helpful? Again, feel free to share this with anyone that could benefit and leave me a comment at the bottom on what part made the biggest impact on you!
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Georgiana Haynes is an architectural designer, Avon Independent Sales Representative, coach, and trainer. She is known for ad campaigns "Beautiful Stories" for Avon Products and "Boss Life" for New Avon, LLC, as well as the training and mentoring she shares with representatives across the US. To learn more about Georgiana, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.BausLadies.com.
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