How to get a referral-based business

The best way to get a referral-based business is simple: Do a good job! When your customers are happy with your product or service, chances are they will talk about you to other people they know. When those people use you, they’ll tell all their friends, and your customer base grows.

But what if you know you’re doing a great job, but that pipeline of referrals is more like a trickle?

The first thing to remember is that even referral-based businesses work at their marketing – they just channel it to their existing clients rather than to the wider marketplace. Here are a few simple things you can do to get started:

1. Create a referral reward system

Some businesses offer this as an incentive up-front, such as “refer a friend and get 20% off your next purchase”, or “refer a friend and go into the draw to win …”. Other businesses reward referrers unexpectedly after the fact. This could involve sending a gift, a voucher, or simply a thank-you card. You might consider taking your client out to lunch to thank them in person. Whichever option you choose, it will enhance your relationship with your client, and communicate that their referral was appreciated.

2. Ask your existing clients for referrals (sounds simple, but are you doing it regularly?)

If you are genuinely doing a great job, and you know your clients are happy, why not simply ask them for referrals? Often we assume that our clients will refer us when they get a chance, so we don’t specifically talk to them about it. Here’s a great way to start the conversation:

“(Name), I’m really enjoying working with you, and would love to find more people to help that are just like you. Who do you know that would love to get the results you’re getting?”

When you have an introduction, make sure to follow it up!

3. Invite-a-friend events

Holding an event specifically for your clients and their friends is another effective strategy. This could be an educational seminar, a golf day, a product launch, or a closed-door-sale with drinks and canapes. Your clients may be more likely to attend if they have the comfort of someone they know with them, and you will be introduced to a potential new client.

Whatever strategy you choose, if you have a genuine desire to help more people with your product or service, it will not feel to either of you like a sales pitch, but as a logical request for introductions.

A word of warning: At times we all have clients with whom we don’t particularly enjoy working, and ones that never seem to be satisfied no matter how much effort we put in. Don’t ask these clients for referrals! People tend to associate with others who are similar to them, so asking hard-to-please customers for referrals may result in you getting more of the same. Stick to requesting referrals from clients you truly enjoy working with.

Posted by julianne, 22/7/15