Getting Referrals: Tips For Boosting These Business Builders

BY Jessica Helinski
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Getting referrals shouldn’t feel like a tedious task. If you’re having difficulty obtaining referrals, it may be time to rethink your strategy. Considering how valuable referrals can be for generating new business, reps need to ensure they’re maximizing every opportunity. “We know our buyers rely on colleagues, associates, and friends to recommend providers,” writes Rain Group’s Mary Flaherty. “So when a prospect comes to us via this route, some of the work is already done for us. Referrals build a seller's trustworthiness and credibility—two cornerstones of effective selling.” She goes on to share her expert advice for inspiring referrals, and four of her tips are discussed below:

  1. Create a referral program
  2. Ask at the right time
  3. Thank your referral sources
  4. Offer alternate ways to recommend you

Getting Referrals Requires Action

If you want more referrals, you can’t just sit back and not take action. Flaherty explains that reps need to first make sure that they are “referral ready.” This means you need to do your best to deserve them. Keep your promises, demonstrate value and provide excellent customer service so customers want to give you a glowing referral. 

Also, don’t rely only on what Flaherty calls “accidental referrals.” Make sure that each one you get is valuable and comes from the type of customers that you want to attract. This involves identifying your ideal customer profile and buyer persona. 

And finally, ensure your pipeline is active; don’t wait to seek referrals only after it’s run dry. Managing a healthy pipeline ensures that your source of satisfied clients continues flowing.

Create A Referral Program

One suggestion Flaherty has is to create a clearly defined program for getting referrals that is tailored to other vendors. “If you work with other companies that you value, propose a partnership to exchange referrals with your respective clients,” she explains. “Offering to refer your customers also creates a welcome bit of leverage when negotiating.” She adds that it’s important you work only with other vendors that you trust and have confidence in; your network should only include businesses that are as credible and valuable as your own.

Ask At the Right Time

Like with most things in life, timing is important when getting referrals. Communication is important for this step; keep the lines open about how your customers are doing with your product or service. Practice active listening to make sure you understand their user experience and that they are actually satisfied before you ask for their referral. 

Thank Your Referral Sources

When getting referrals, it’s always important that you show your appreciation. Past and current customers aren’t obligated to refer you, so when they do, make sure to let them know that it means something to you. “This could be with a simple phone call, email, or even better, a handwritten note,” Flaherty writes. “The important thing is to express your appreciation. You'll also encourage additional referrals this way.”

Offer Alternate Ways To Recommend You

Customers may not always be comfortable with giving a referral, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help you generate new business. Flaherty suggests other ways that they can extol your value. Ask if they’d consider doing a video or written testimonials, or participating in a case study. There are many ways that they can advocate for you, so seek out what is most comfortable for them. As she points out, “The more options you have, the more comfortable clients will feel giving feedback. Additionally, if a client is hesitant to refer you for whatever reason, don’t push it. Be respectful but provide means for them to refer you in the future.”

Getting Referrals Should be Part of Your Process

Your sales process should include an ask for referrals, but make sure that you not only deserve one, but you also ask at the right time and offer the means to do so. These tips, along with the others Flaherty shares in her article, can help you integrate referral requests into your process.'

Photo by MetroCreative Connection