The other day, I was at a stoplight and over to my right, I noticed a service van that had these words written on it “A referral is the best compliment that you can give us for good service.” So I started thinking, “How many times have I pro-actively asked a client for a referral for new business or for a potential contact?”
As part of my sales strategy, I try to incorporate this question into my conversations with my networking contacts, but I don’t always have a chance. So am I missing an opportunity? If our clients were truly pleased with the level of service that we provide them, then shouldn’t the referrals just pour in? Not always.
Knowing When to Ask
Small businesses are built initially on word-of-mouth and referrals, but many times entrepreneurs are so busy running the day-to-day operations that they miss out on a very important opportunity – asking their current clients for referrals. Our public relations company has grown through 100 percent referrals from clients that gave our name to their contacts, but I’m sure that there are more people that we need to connect to, but we have to ask.
We are now working on gaining testimonials to use in our marketing materials as well as on our website. Testimonials are very important, but are only one facet of building a brand for a company or individual; the next logical step is to ask for a referral. Perhaps your satisfied client knows someone who could benefit from the services that you provide?
The way to ask for a referral is to first offer to connect your client with someone who could potentially benefit their business. Often, a strategy of “pay it forward” and helping your clients build their business has the equal effect of building your own business.
Best Time to Ask for a Referral
So when is it appropriate to ask for a referral? Perhaps the most opportune time is after you have made a significant accomplishment on behalf of a client. After asking for their feedback on your performance and receiving positive feedback, the client will be more likely to give you the name and contact information of a decision maker.
Are you providing your client with the level of service that “WOWs” them to give a referral? Don’t be shy to ask. You help your clients grow their businesses. Through the quality of work you provide your clients, it is O.K. to ask for a referral. It’s the best type of marketing possible.
Ed Mayuga is a principal at AMM Communications LLC, a St. Louis-based public relations firm, specializing in marketing, crisis communications, social media and sales management training. He can be contacted at 314.485.9810 or [email protected].