One of the best tactics in marketing is a customer referral program. Many business owners leave the referral process to chance, but this is a big mistake. Like everything in business, developing a referral program is a process, not an event. It's going to take time to iron our and get it working effectively in order to reap it's rewards. However it's an almost free way to market your business. Following these ten steps should result in generating more referrals for your business.
1. First contact
Ask every new customer about how they first heard about you. Delve down to find out that person who actually referred you. You might find that you don't even know this person. Get their contact details and add them to your database.
2. Build a referral program
Develop a step by step process to seek and acknowledge referrals. Set some referral expectations in writing, verbally and throughout the process of dealing with clients. Feel free to write and practice a script asking for a referral.
3. Develop a list of active referrers
Review your contacts and list all the family, friends and business associates that actively refer you. The 80/20 rule applies here - 20% of your referrers will refer 80% of your new business.
4. Set goals
Set a target list of calls to make to referrers, even if that's only five calls weekly. Allcoate time for it, and allow 15 minutes epr call. Jot down the conversation details, and follow up notes on an effective data-base.
It's all about the conversation. Call your referrers and talk open and honestly with them. Ask them how you can help them, and tell them that you would like more business, and tell them about your referral program.
6. Thank them
Referrals should be thank - send a card or gift and do it consistently.
7. Scratch their back too
Refer people to your referral. This reciprocality can be one of the most powerful things in the whole process.
8. Keep the relationship alive
Stay in touch via email, calls, invites, e-newsletters, cards and by sending them quality content and informative links to your website.
Look for alliance relationship that offer opportunities. Start with a focus on business owners that provide a complementary service to you and who also have the same target market. Look for a win/win opportunity to cross-refer.
10. Get formal
If appropriate, formalise the referral arrangement. You could make your referrers into a sales force by making an agreement offering financial incentives.