Growth is important for any business; more often than not growth is essential for the small business to remain competitive. Spending hours prospecting on the phones or building a brand new website can be both time consuming and exhausting. How to get around this? Get others to find your clients for you by utilizing the referral-selling model.
There is a strong body of evidence that suggests that over half of all referrals end in a sale, and that word of mouth advertising is by far the most effective. Here are a few tips to harness this power and put it to work for your business.
- Use those who know and trust you to generate referrals. Trust is crucial in relationship building, and often the first hurdle in the sales process. You can count on your friends, neighbors, and family to be strong advocates for you and your business but consider your current client list as well and ask them if they would be comfortable recommending you to others.
- Relax and go with the flow, ask when it feels right. New clients will flock to you if your personality is calm and inviting. Treat each contact with a potential client as a meeting between friends, so to speak. If they feel a genuine concern and an interest in their business from you they are more likely to be open to how you can help them. It’s about establishing and maintaining a relationship, not a quick sale opportunity.
- Be specific; ask for an action, not a contact. When you want someone who trusts you to refer business your way be direct and ask him or her to call or email the prospect for you and request that they notify you once this has been done. This not only establishes credibility for you and your business but also prefaces the potential client about what you have to offer them.
- Following up is paramount. Do it immediately. Once you’ve been notified that the potential client has been “warmed up” to the idea of doing business with you, reach out. You’ve already received the endorsement from someone who trusts and values your services so you’re more likely to have a genuine, meaningful conversation or communication and more likely to bring in a new client.
- Thank you, thank you and thank you again. A good rule of thumb is to send a thank you for the referral within one day, and if necessary kindly remind them to take the appropriate action to contact said referral. Then send an additional thank you to the individual to whom you were referred. Finally a third thank you is necessary should a sale result from the referral. This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s essential to maintaining a professional, respected image.
Incorporating these tips into your sales model will set your business up for continued success. In the small business community it is all about the creation and maintenance of that professional relationship with your prospective clients. When they genuinely feel as though you and your business have their best interest at heart you’re generating trust and planting a new seed for future referrals.