Getting a steady stream of referrals is the dream of most businesses. The right kind of referred leads are pure gold. They are often more qualified, less price sensitive, and more apt to refer business once they become a customer.
Many business count on some portion of referred business, but few tap this source of new and repeat business to the full extent.
In addition to providing a product, service or experience worth talking about you’ve got to implement referral processes and campaigns to amplify your refer ability and keep referrals generation top of mind for customers, partners and staff.
Want to learn more about building a referral engine? Read these articles:
- Top 10 Social Media Tools to Find Your Referral Champions
- 5 Truths that Lead to More Referrals
- What a Referral Doesn't Know Can Hurt You
Take the following steps into consideration as you build your very own referral engine.
When it comes to referral generation strategy starts with identifying your referral champions. In this pursuit there are two categories that must be mined—customers and strategic partners.
Look through your customer base and identify those that refer already. Are there any common characteristics or problems that these referring customers share? The key is to understand everything you can about those that are already referring, so you can identify what it is that makes them do so and how you can amp this action up by rewarding these champions with extra attention, opportunities and tools.
The second group, strategic partners, offers a great opportunity to expand your reach. Ask your existing customers about other companies they admire and like to refer with an eye on exploring ways to make this select group a part of your team of preferred referral partners.
It’s important that your referral sources know who and how to refer. Even your most loyal advocates need some guidance so they don’t waste their time and your time with the wrong kind of referrals.
Create a process that allows you to teach them how to spot your ideal client, how to easily explain your core message, what to listen for and how you intend to follow-up with referred leads.
Taking the time to complete this kind of education will pay huge dividends with both customers and partners. In fact, you should also reverse this process and ask your partners to teach you the same about their businesses.
Sometimes getting referrals is a matter of keeping the topic in front of your sources and coming up with creative ways to get them involved in the game.
The right motivation might just be something other than payment in return. A remodeling contractor I once worked with found that rewarding his referring clients with the use of a skilled carpenter for a day was for far more exciting than a check.
Creating referral offers that benefit not for profit agencies, involve a contest or tangible tools like gift certificates can be gentle aids to getting your referral message heard and talked about.
An important and sometimes overlooked element of your referral system is the act of follow-up. There are actually several forms of follow-up and each should be built into your routine referral activities.
The first group is the referred lead. You need a process other than your normal lead generation process to make sure they realize they are a special referred lead.
Another group that needs systematic follow-up is your referral sources. It’s amazing how far a little appreciation, like a note card of thanks, can go and how much it’s missed when not shown.
The best referrals are those made because someone genuinely believes that you can help someone. Keeping the referral source in the loop, and communicating just how much they did help through their introduction, can be one of the most powerfully motivating things you can do.
Sit down and review your referral process as it stands today and see where you might use some of these ideas to plug the obvious gaps and then fire that referral engine up and start driving that new business your way.
Image credit: mashleymorgan
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.