As we spend our days chasing down new leads and driving traffic, managing advertisements and writing blog articles, we sometimes overlook the very valuable revenue source we have already cultivated- our current customer base, family, friends. co-workers and business associates!
Your biggest source of referrals will come from people who already know, like, and trust you, but who may or may not already be customers of yours. Follow these tips to maximize the exposure of your business through your network.
1. Start asking for referrals from the very first day you start your business.
Immediately let everyone in your closest sphere of influence, also called your HOT market of your closest friends and immediate family members, know what your new business is all about. The trick to this is to let them know up front that you are just spreading the word and there is no obligation to buy from you. Ask for their help in naming a few people they know who may benefit from your product or service to get you started. If these people love and care about you, they will be glad to help.
2. Ask for a new referral every day from at least one person you meet or speak to.
Come up with a quick question you can ask to virtually anyone to get a referral, such as, “Do you know anyone who would be interested in creating a new source of cashflow?” or “Do you know anyone who would be interested in a product that…?” (fill in the blank for the benefit of your product or service). They may surprise you with a name or even say they would be interested themselves. If they say no, then at least you asked. And most importantly remember that when you ask this way, you never get a personal rejection. They are rejecting the product, service or opportunity.
3. Join a mastermind or referral group designed to specifically generate referral leads from the other members of the group.
Such groups as BNI have been around for years helping entrepreneurs promote their businesses. But you can also create your own mastermind group with any small collection of business owners who intend to refer business to each other. You can each carry the business cards of the other group members and pass them out as often as possible. You must have faith in your group members, though, that each person is doing the same for you and that each person is sharing the responsibility. If they are not, do not be shy about asking them to leave the group.
4. Spend time each week connecting with current or former customers to ask for referrals.
Either by phone or e-mail, connect weekly with customers who would willingly share your product or service with their own network. Sometimes they will do this on their own and sometimes they need to be prompted by you to jog a name from their memory. Phone calls are obviously more personal and may put people on the spot to give you a direct answer, but e-mails allow them to ponder the question and respond at their leisure, even if it is many months later. You can also try a combination phone call followed up by an e-mail.
5. Call or visit with your warm market directly and make a personal connection.
Your warm market are acquaintances that you do not see often or would not call on the phone regularly to speak to, or that you know by name only. These are your kids’ friends’ parents, your insurance agent, your dental hygienist, the clerk at the store you go to all the time, you get the picture. These people can smell a sale a mile away especially if it comes from someone who they would never otherwise speak to. So, you cannot come on too strong. Asking for a referral is a great, non-threatening way to introduce your business and ask for their help at the same time. The most important thing here is to make the connection and learn something about them even if you don’t get a referral from them right away or ever.
6. Ask for referrals from prospects who end up not buying from you.
At the end of every sales presentation, you get to the point where the prospect has to say yes or no. If the answer is no, do not let that person leave without asking for a referral. Just because your product or service isn’t for them doesn’t mean that someone they know wouldn’t be interested. And if they were at all impressed by your presentation, they will gladly give you a name. This also lets this prospect know that there are no hard feelings, you respect their decision and you are ready to move on. You will not be waiting around for them to change their mind.
7. As Nike would say: Just Do It!
Referral marketing can help even the shyest marketer to talk to people directly without feeling like they are selling or “prospecting.” The worst that can happen is that the person won’t know anyone else who would be interested. The best thing that can happen is that they give you a list from their own network that makes you a lot of money. Is it worth the risk? You Betcha!