In my last Blog I revealed why having a Referral Strategy is so important to helping you develop your business.
Although a referral strategy has always been vital for a higher priced product or service, in this day of spreading social media recommendations are sought and acted upon for pretty much everything – regardless of its price point!
Having invested the time, effort and money to get a new client on board you should now use that client as a conduit to other customers, and make your investment have an even better return.
So in this Blog we look at five simple steps you can take to creating the right Referral Strategy for your company and how to put it into action.
Step 1. Define The Purpose of Your Referral Strategy
You need to be clear about what you want to achieve with your Referral Strategy.
Obviously you are looking to get customers to refer you to others for more business, but a little thought ahead is useful to define exactly what you want to get out of it.
This should also give you measurables such as response rates, new business achieved etc so you can evaluate your results and fine tune your approaches to obtain even greater success.
So ask yourself the questions – What sort of business am I looking for? What will be the most profitable? What sort of customers do I want to deal with? What are my priorities? Could I use my Referral Strategy for other elements of my business, for example finding good quality staff or a new supplier? etc.
As the Army expression goes: Time spent in reconnaissance is time rarely wasted, and you will have a clear focus for your efforts after taking a little time over this first step.
Step 2. Identify Your Target Market
Once you have clarified what you want out of your Referral Strategy you can more easily decide who you want to be targetting.
If you don’t set the rules, your new customers will set them for you, so select the type of people you want to reach and the best customers you can use to reach them.
It is also useful to identify key elements such as Age, Gender, Location, Income Level etc as this will really help in defining how you go about gaining referrals.
And do keep in mind that the more you can whittle down your targets the more focussed and effective will be your efforts – ideally you should be able to name the specific referrals you are seeking!
Step 3. Create Your Offer
You need to teach your customers why it’s good for them to give you referrals.
As we saw in my last Blog, people will generally only do something for you if you give them a reason to – an offer – so here are a few you may find useful and could adapt for your own Referral Strategy.
A. By referring you new clients they’re helping you save marketing pounds and that allows you to pass on greater savings to them, greater rewards, and even better service
B. They’re making sure you have a strong and healthy business, so you’re around in the future when they will need you again
C. By working together with people they know you will be able to develop additional business for all three of you
D. They may feel they owe you a favour as you have gone the extra mile in delivering for them in difficult or exceptional circumstances in the past
E. You provide them with a commission on all business which comes your way as a direct result of their referrals
F. You offer them a discount on their next order if business for you results from their referrals … and so on
Every time you educate one customer about referring new people to you you should have an advocate for life – with one condition: that you continue to give them exceptional service, of course!.
Step 4. Develop Your Approach
Now it is time to think about the ways in which you are going to approach your customers to seek their referrals.
One of the truisms of life is that everybody is different and has different motivations – certainly one approach will not suit all, especially for higher value services and products where recommendations are more difficult to achieve.
Remember that you are asking your customer to put their reputation (as well as yours!) on the line in making a referral, so it is important to assess their mind set in advance.
Which of the reasons you have developed do you think will work best for each individual, or could they just be pleased to refer you to others because they want to be helpful or it will put them in a good light?
What is the value of a referral to you and what will work best for them – a letter, email, telephone call, meeting up, informal drink, lunch?
A relatively low value product may justify only simple round-robin emails to a large number of customers (but do personalise them to increase opening rates), while a major referral may require a discrete word over a game of golf – it’s your judgement and choice!
Step 5. Implement Your Referral Strategy
With everything in place you can now go into action.
You will have developed your own approaches, however here are some tips from my own experience to help you with your success:
A. Make a list of your customers with their contact details and room to add comments and actions.
This could be a database on an Excel spreadsheet or a simple printed form you keep on your desk and write in information by hand as you go along – whatever works best for you.
B. Give yourself a set target to achieve.
For example you might set aside a certain amount of time each day to approach customers to gain referrals, or you may set a certain number of targets to reach each day or week.
However you do this the important thing is to make it a routine that you can manage and which you can maintain – all too often people fail because they set themselves an ambitious target, find they are falling behind, despair and then give up.
Better to have a low target and achieve it than a high target and fail!
Even one customer approached a week will give you 50 possible opportunities for referrals in a year that are not being managed at the moment, and one a day will give you more than 200 – even allowing for weekends and holidays!
C. Track what you are doing.
Keep notes on each person you approach, if they have opened and read your email, if and when they are phoning you back or when you should phone them again, what their response is and what follow up is required.
Discipline here is the key to success!
Hopefully you can see now how relatively easy it is create and implement your Referral Strategy, however if you would like any help with this or any other ways you can improve your business please do not hesitate to ring me on: 01483 332020 or email me at: email@example.com
I look forward to hearing from you.
In my next Blog I will go into more detail on specific strategies you can use with customers to encourage them to refer you – in the meantime happy hunting!
For business tips, news and invitations to my free workshops please click here to subscribe to my e-newsletter>>
Are you a business owner?
Interested in finding 6 simple ways in which you can quickly increase your profits and efficiency – and have more quality time for yourself?
If so then please join me for my next morning workshop on Friday 4 April 2014 at The Holiday Inn, Guildford.
It is free to business owners and company directors, but places are limited and awarded on a first come first served basis.
Book online here>> or please contact me on: 01483 332020 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.
More information on this workshop, and great feedback from businesspeople like you who have attended my events, can be found on my Events page.