How to Improve Your Referral Flow

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Generating referrals from your clients is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. It allows you to reach new clients you would have never been able to target, and it enhances your reputation as a trusted source in your industry.

But how do you actually get referrals? After all, people, in general, are fairly lazy so they probably aren’t going to go out of their way to tell others to buy your products or services. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to motivate your clients to recommend you to their colleagues.

Here are some tips for improving your referral flow.

•    Make sure your services are worth referring—
If you aren’t getting any referrals organically, you might want to take a look in the mirror. Is it because your services aren’t worth referring? Before you move on to any of the other tips on this list, you have to make sure your services are referral worthy. The best way to do this is to offer remarkable service every time, to be reliable (never make a promise you can’t keep), and to simply never settle for status quo.

•    Create an incentive for referring—Okay, so now that your services are referral worthy, it’s time to talk about how to actually get referrals. Like I said earlier, in general people are lazy and busy, so the last thing on their mind is advertising your business to their friends. That’s why you have to answer the old question “What’s in it for me?” Give your clients a reason to refer you to their friends. This can be something as simple as 25% off their next order if they refer a friend who becomes a customer. One catch here: just make sure your incentive isn’t so great that it ends up losing you money.

•    Simplify the rules for being rewarded—
Don’t put a ton of restrictions and red tape on your referral program. Keep it simple. Your rules for being rewarded should be a one-liner, like “If you refer someone who buys from us, we’ll give you a 25% discount off your next purchase.” Don’t say “If you refer someone who comes to us and spends at least $500 over a 3 month period without making any returns, you’ll get 25% off your next purchase.” Too many restrictions make referring a friend more trouble than it’s worth.

•    Remind clients of referral program regularly—Now, you don’t want to be a pain in the butt here, but you do need to make sure your clients don’t forget about your referral program. There are several simple, non-overbearing ways you can do this. One way is to simply include a note about your referral program at the bottom of every invoice. This way, each time the client does business with you, they’re reminded of the program. Another way to remind them is to simply send them a note about your referral program once every 2 months or so.

•    Ask for a referral—Sometimes, the simplest way to get a referral is to just ask for it. Now, I know this might seem awkward to some of you, but it doesn’t have to be. If the client says they were happy with your services, simply reply with a “Thank you. Feel free to tell your friends about us.” After all, if they’ve already said they enjoyed doing business with you, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that they would recommend you to a friend.

•    Give referrals—Not to get all biblical on you, but there’s something to be said for the notion of “give and you shall receive.” If you ever have the opportunity to recommend one of your clients to someone you know, do it. Your clients will appreciate it, and they’ll be likelier to return the favor at some point.

Does your business generate a lot of referrals? How do you do it? Share your tips in the replies.

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