Next up in our series on how to maximize client retention is to ask for referrals. Ask and you will receive. Asking for referrals can serve as a great reminder to clients to send more people your way. But wait, aren’t we focusing on customer retention? Providing great customer service to the referrals sent your way creates even more loyalty with clients. Work the request for a referral into your normal sales script so that it’s natural when you ask for referrals.
Asking for Referrals
More loyal customers also means more recurring revenue and more referrals.
Why? Referrals make the best customers: they cost nothing to acquire, they spread the word for you, and they are more loyal to your business, long-term. But generating referrals is tricky and a lot of businesses don’t know how to do it well.
According to John Jantsch’s studies in The Referral Engine, of all the businesses that desire referrals — 79.9% said they have no process in place for capturing referrals! So that means 8 out of 10 business people are just standing around, hoping that people remember to send business their way.
Start the Process
Most business owners, even those who have processes in place to capture referral leads, find it’s usually awkward to ask for them. Bluntly asking for a referral can be difficult and uncomfortable, for you and your client.
You put yourself out there and ask your client if they could recommend you to their friends. They probably won’t flat out say no, but it’s also unlikely they’ll actually connect you with a qualified prospect at that exact moment. However, the statistics show that most people are more than happy to make a referral if they are asked for one. Even if they don’t have the perfect referral at that moment, asking the question plants the seed. Hopefully, when the perfect fit comes to mind, they’ll send those your way.
Make Referrals Natural
One of Aflac’s top performing reps, Susan Wright, voiced that awkwardness in a recent interview. “I set out to just get referrals because referrals are an easier system and it produces better clients.” So how’d she do it? “Have a piece of paper and say, ‘Hey, why don’t you just write them down for me?’ And then sit there and be awkward. That’s how we’ve been trained to do that!”
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to organically capture referrals without creating an awkward situation.. But Susan was already one step ahead of most just because she asked.
Ease the awkwardness by thinking of ways to eliminate any pressure, risk, or relational strain. Offer loyalty cards, referral or affiliate incentives (if permissible in your industry), mobile-accessible tools that are both non-intrusive and make it easy for them to connect the referral to you.
A good basic step is a stack of business cards, but these may not be as effective for sales people with long sales cycles. This is where CardTapp can help. Creating an app with tools and resources that clients can use even after their transaction closes can help you stay top-of-mind. Instead of trying to track down a long lost business card, they can easily share your information and tools to the new lead.