One must provide a great product or service to get referred and overdeliver on value add. And one must ASK for the referral which many biz owners haven't incorporated into their daily communications or routine and I think one has to remind people that you want to grow your customer base and/or take your business to the next level. Real estate professionals are awesome at asking.
For those people in a professional service business, you know that there are always those clients who love you so much that, as much as they want to see your business grow, they also don't want anything to take you away from servicing their account! So some of your best clients can be hesitant about giving referrals even though if they were asked for a testimonial would say unbelievable things about you. Besides that, giving a referral is just not top of mind for them -- they're usually busy running a business for themselves for which you're often one small part.
So it's important to ask those satisfied clients for a testimonial that you can use on an ongoing basis rather than expecting them to think about telling others about you whenever there is an opportunity to do so. Whether it is a recommendation they write for your LinkedIn page or a testimonial letter that you show to your prospective clients. Or take those same LinkedIn testimonials and place them on a page on your website (ask for permission) and direct traffic there. A testimonial page can be the most often-visited page on a website. Satisfied clients may be better utilized as testimonials and references than direct referral sources. BTW, you may have to offer to write the testimonial for them if they just don't have the time and that's ok too if you know them well enough.
Often referrals come from people who are not or not yet clients. In fact, most of my referrals right now are coming from people who just seem to be a raving fan from a previous business or working relationship, or even as a result of a conversation. Yesterday, I received a referral from someone I've never met who gets networking on LI and has the "givers gain" mentality. So you never know where referrals come from. Most of my referrals are as a result of my being active on the social networks (LI, FB, Twitter & Plaxo) and even though I work from home and have not attended many networking events, the phone is ringing. The point is that in order for people to refer you to others, they have to know who you are. If you are sitting back waiting for the phone to ring and your name is not in front of them on a consistent basis, they will think of others instead of you when they or someone they know has a need for your product or service.
One more thought. If you want more quality referrals, be the first to give quality referrals. I've provided some thoughts above, but this would be my #1 referral tip for empowering satisfied clients or raving fans.
Note: This content was written earlier today in response to a question on LinkedIn posed by Trina Willard of Transformation Systems Inc. - Leadership in Motion.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Testimonials & Referrals: The Power behind your Business