How to cultivate influential referrals

How to cultivate influential referrals

The Best Source Of New Business.

 

Customer referrals are the most persuasive form of advertising.

The best source of new business is a referral from a satisfied customer.

A referral is a mark of respect and appreciation from someone who has experienced the benefits of doing business with you.

A customer who is prepared to give you a referral is likely to become a lifetime supporter of you and your business.

Referrals are even more powerful when they come from a trusted friend or acquaintance because you know that person has your best interests at heart.

The popularity of social media is evidence that services and products are chosen based upon the recommendation of others.

You Need To Earn Your Referrals

To have satisfied customers you need to provide products and/or services of high quality and deliver exemplary customer service.

To cultivate raving fans and influential referrals you need to go the extra mile and outperform your customers’ expectations.

You need to develop friendship, trust and positive relationships with your customers in order to drive loyalty to you and your business.

Customers want to feel comfortable and secure when giving you a referral as they are putting their reputation and their image on the line.

Ask For Referrals

Your best customers will usually be ready and willing to give you referrals.

All you have to do is ask!

But timing is essential.

It’s far too aggressive to ask for a referral immediately following a transaction with your customer unless you are absolutely certain they are delighted with your business.

Generally it’s wise to give them the opportunity to experience your service or product and provide follow-up support before asking for referrals.

When you give willingly to your customers it is likely they will want to return the favour.

When asking your customers for referrals you need to assure them that their referrals will be treated with the greatest of respect.

Advise them of the steps you intend to take when handling their referrals.

Remember to keep them updated and to show your appreciation for their support and contribution.

Keep in mind that not all customers are referral candidates.

Focus on those that are ecstatic about your business and make sure their network is the type of client you want.

Types Of Referrals

The best type of referral will come from your customers because they can vouch first-hand for the quality of your product or service.

But don’t forget to prospect other influential people such as those individuals or businesses that provide complimentary products or services within your industry or profession including your suppliers and third party service providers such as consultants, accountants, etc.

Be Proactive

Seek out opportunities for cross promotions and joint ventures using endorsements from other well respected people.

Nurture and build your relationships with your influential advocates and make the referrals go both ways.

Demonstrate your value and willingness to help your customers by referring people to them and their businesses.

Track And Manage Your Referrals

You can track and manage your referrals using a system as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or as sophisticated as a CRM database.

Be sure to thank your customers for their referrals on a regular basis.

Send a personalised thank you note or message for each referral you receive.

If you have customers who are particularly generous and forthcoming with their referrals you might care to reward them with something special such as discounts on your products or services, introductory discounted offers to JV partners or dinner and entertainment vouchers, etc.

Get testimonials that sell

Get testimonials that sell

Storytelling is the new hotness in marketing.

And compelling real life stories from satisfied customers showcasing results you’ve helped them to achieve are far more convincing than any other kind of marketing.

Detailed stories from your customers provide imagery and emotion that no amount of paid advertising could ever accomplish.

Glowing third party endorsements will entice even the most sceptical prospects to come on board because they are authentic accounts of transformations brought about as a direct consequence of having worked with you.

How do you get powerful testimonials?

In my experience devoted customers are only too happy to provide you with testimonials, but when it comes to putting them together they often find themselves at a loss for words.

Use this as an opportunity to help them structure their testimonials so they tell powerful transformation stories.

Stories that are very easy to follow.

Stories that are well tempered and not overly biased.

Stories that put pay to the key objections you often come up against in your service industry.

The best way to obtain transformation stories from your customers is to ask them a very specific set of questions.

Questions that provide you with responses that fall into a neat and pleasant storyline that is both straightforward and interesting to read.

Your questions should include:

* what problem your customer needed to solve when they first came to you

* what reservations they may have had about doing business with you or with someone in your specific service industry

* how you managed to allay their fears

* what it was that convinced them to come on board with you

* what outcome you helped them to achieve and how it made them feel having gained that result

* what their overall opinion is of you and the service you provide

 

You want their stories to unfold in the most effective way.

You want each story to be unique, personal, touching and specifically linked to a particular objection.

At the beginning of a testimonial it is a good idea to address any fears or scepticism your customer may have had concerning your service offering and how you managed to help them overcome their doubts.

This tends to give the testimonial power and depth.

Bring your testimonials to life by including an appropriate photo of your customer together with their name and their location, with their permission of course.

If they’re in business themselves, add a link to their website and promote their business.

If there is a physical or material “before and after” view you helped your customers achieve you want to display those images so your prospective clients can witness that transformation with their very own eyes.

Compliments from your customers can be very flattering, but you want to make sure their words are not too sugary.

Your prospective customers may find this off-putting.

Testimonial formats

Written testimonials accompanied by photographs in printed and electronic format are great, but don’t overlook the fact that videos are an incredibly powerful way to deliver a testimonial.

Nothing quite measures up to a testimonial presented by someone who looks directly into the eyes of your customer and speaks from their heart.