All businesses rely upon referrals to some degree. Regardless of your industry, it is incredibly important to live up to the compliment when someone refers business your way. Don’t let that person down… perform at your best and you will find that they will refer more business to you in the future. Here are a few tips for getting referrals.
- Ask. Really… I mean it. It is so simple yet so many people just don’t do it. Whatever the reason may be… too shy, over confident, too busy… it never pays to be silent! Most satisfied clients are very happy to refer new prospects your way, but they simply won’t think of it if you don’t ask.
- Time it right. When a project is completed, confirm the client is satisfied and then ask them to refer you to others who may benefit from your services. Always ask the customer when their happy results are still fresh.
- Track them. Keep track of who is sending you referrals, what type of work they are and if you win the business. By doing this, you will get a good feel for how you are doing in a particular area. If you don’t get the business, always ask why so that you may improve your value proposition.
- Build trusting relationships. Create satisfied clients through meaningful interactions. If you are helpful and valuable to your clients, they will be more likely to trust that you will take care of the people you refer them to.
- Follow up. Be prompt in your follow-up with referrals. Always contact someone right away following the initial point of connection.
- Provide great service. Treat your referral as you would any existing or prospective client and then do it better! Make your referral source look great by taking extreme care to provide the best customer experience you can.
- Thank your sources. Always thank the person who made the connection for you. Regardless of the outcome, make a personal call or send a note thanking them for thinking of you. Whenever possible, refer business back to them as the ultimate thank you.
Referrals will provide you with pre-screened new business. As an added bonus, you will also earn a great sense of pride in what you do and feel good about how you service your clients. Having an existing client refer you to someone is a great barometer for your services. Of course, you know to always treat any client with respect, but consider going the extra mile to be super helpful for your productive referral sources. You will always see results in return.
Sometimes things don’t happen the way you want them to. It happens to everyone at some time, yet it feels so horrible when things in your world don’t go according to plan. We are often so hard on ourselves when we can’t seem to get the results we hoped for. So, how do you get over the hump and keep trying? Be persistent. Here are a few thoughts:
- Review your goals. Take a deep look at your goals and assess them. Are they still appropriate? If they are, keep working on your plan. If they have shifted, tweak them. No need to completely scrap them and start over. Just adjust them until they are just slightly out of reach.
- Review your action plan. Now that you have confirmed your goals, take a minute to review the actionable steps you have identified to get there. Are these steps still feasible? This is usually where the important changes often take place. Make sure your steps are small enough to be attainable in short periods of time.
- Look around you. You may feel like everyone else is wildly successful around you, but look more closely. Everyone hits bumps in the road that slow down their progress. It is important to realize you are not alone. Reach out to a colleague who may have a similar business to yours and talk about how they attain success. Also, ask them to talk with you about how they get through flat periods.
- Start fresh every day. Talk yourself through the toughest times by starting each day with a new resolve to do your best. Be sure you have scheduled your marketing time into your week and stick to it. Taking your progress in small steps will help you see results over a period of time.
Everyone encounters periods of success and also times of decreased productivity. It is important to be persistent, driving yourself through those down times so that you may see improvement. Results do not usually appear quickly, but without persistent work, you will never see positive results. Don’t give up… keep working hard, tracking your small successes along the way.
We are two weeks into the new year… have you set your resolutions yet? I don’t mean those resolutions: ’drop 15 lbs’, ‘workout every day’ and ‘get to bed by 930′. I mean the business type. You know what I am talking about. Those habits you know you need to form but are so hard to stick to! But are they really that difficult to do? Not necessarily…
Think about it. ’Resolution’ is an other way to say you are setting your goals for the year. You have set goals in the past, right? So, pull out that marketing plan and dig in. What did you set out to do when you wrote your plan? What did you accomplish? What is left to do? Once you have assessed your previous plan, choose a few business resolutions for 2012. Here are a couple to consider:
- Make appointments in your calendar to work on marketing and business development initiatives. Go into your outlook and set recurring appointments or manually enter 4 time slots each month to focus solely on furthering your marketing and business development plans.
- Start using social media. This one is a ‘close your eyes and jump’ kind of project for some. If you haven’t used social media before, start by creating a Linked In Profile and establishing a twitter handle. For those who have already done these steps, ramp up your activity. Schedule 10 minutes each morning to check your social media outlets and start adding connections, following people and companies or tweeting interesting news items.
- Attend group meetings in person. If you are a member of a trade association or other group, attend the regular meetings and talk to people face-to-face. Making personal connections and reinforcing connections regularly will deepen your relationships. It could mean referrals and more business for you over the long run.
- Talk to your clients on your dime. It is important to reach out to your clients and touch base. Ask them about business, family and industry related events. Go to lunch, grab a cup of coffee or give them a call a few times a year. Personal connection is a sure-fire loyalty builder.
Whatever resolutions you choose to adopt for 2012, make them achievable. Don’t set unrealistic standards because you will not be able to sustain the effort. Ultimately, prolonged effort will result in success.
OK– Take 15 minutes right now. Choose one resolution. Make a few appointments with your self to act upon your resolution. Measure your results in 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.
READY, SET… GO!