Increase Sales with Top Tips for Getting More Referrals
Referrals are the most powerful marketing tools for a business to increase sales. Step up your game with these great tips for referrals.
Because your time is limited, and you will want to start narrowing your efforts at some point, put in place some basic due diligence on each source, just as you would with most other things. As you start to experience lead generation from various sources, you may notice patterns. For example:
- You may find that specific sources don’t lead to the type of work you are looking for—smaller, project-based work versus interim, longer-term engagements.
- Your strengths may end up playing better to some sources than others.
- Your time from introduction to starting the engagement may be shorter versus longer for some sources.
- Your up-front time investment may vary between sources. For example, it may take longer to gain trust and get to know a client you met through social media efforts versus one who was personally referred to you.
The good news is, compared to ten years ago, there is now a full range of options. Keep your hands in all of the baskets and try out each one until you learn enough to decide where it makes the most sense for you to focus your efforts.
The most powerful marketing tools for any business are business referrals. People are inclined to trust business referrals if they come personally from somebody they know. According to research by Nielsen, 77 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when they learn about it from friends or family.
Getting out the message about how great your business is does not depend so much on the size of your social network, but on how memorable your brand is. You should be able to leave consequential strangers with a clear understanding of what you do, in just one brief conversation. To expand your reach, you want to give them enough information to further recommend you to their network, but not so much information that they lose focus on what to remember. Their recommendations can be quite valuable; they build trust with both the potential client and the referral partner. If the outcome is positive, it creates a ripple effect and word spreads.
So, what does it take to be trusted and recommendable? Establish enough credibility and context so that people know clearly what it is that you do. There are three steps to becoming recommendable so your network can be part of your business development department.
Stay in touch with your contacts for referrals
As nice as it would be to simply meet someone and have them immediately refer business to you, this is rarely the case. You could have worked with someone for years and they still won’t remember to refer you. We can’t stress how critical it is to stay in contact. There are too many sources available today, from e-mail to LinkedIn to the old-fashioned “pick up the phone and call.” Often, what is now considered old-fashioned is the most effective, because it is so rarely used. It can be as simple as checking in to see how somebody is doing and what’s new.
This includes contacts from years past. When you leave a company, whether as an employee or a vendor, you have built relationships with people who have a personal working knowledge of your work. They can be some of your most powerful referral sources. Follow their work moves and keep in touch. Make sure they know what you are doing. Out of sight, out of mind really does apply here. Stay in view consistently and your contacts will think of you first.
Be selective. Yes, you may have 100 people on your referral list, but only ten of them may actually ever refer you. It’s really better to concentrate most of your outreach efforts on those ten. Help them out, stay in touch, communicate, and keep them updated on what you are doing. Just because you published an article, that doesn’t mean they saw it. Send it to them. It may trigger something with one of their clients and make it easy for them to forward; this one activity can easily get your name in front of their client more quickly. LinkedIn can be used in the same way. Stay in touch with your network. Posting articles, publishing thoughts about someone else’s article, etc. Get out there as a thought leader. You never know what may trigger a referral.
Never stop expanding your referral base. Although the number of new people you meet on a weekly or monthly basis may slow down as your business matures, make it a point to get out and meet new people. For those who have a difficult time doing this in person, there is nothing wrong with building up your online referral base. It is always best to strike a balance between the two, though. If you aren’t expanding your social media networks by meeting new people in person, set a goal to connect with a specific number of people each week. Even on Twitter, some of the most unlikely people may know someone who could use your expertise. You just never know, so don’t judge too quickly.