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How to Start a Successful Client Referral Program

Aug 17, 2007
Conventional marketing teaches you to spending money, get people to raise their hands, and if you get enough response, it is a wise investment.

It is the proverbial 80/20 rule: Spend 80 percent of your dollars on outbound marketing and advertising activity; spend the rest on current clients.

What if there was a way to work smarter? To spend 80 percent of your marketing dollars on your current clients. Can you imagine the return?

A client referral program allows you to do exactly this. And here is how to set one up.

1. Concentrate on ensuring your existing clients understand all your services. People talk most about your work when they best understand it. But unfortunately, the majority of our clients have really only experienced a small portion of our true skills.

For example, if you are a Public Relations professional, your clients may have experienced you writing press releases, distributing the release to the media, preparing a written result of your activities, and hearing you discuss a certain promotional angle.

But that same client has likely never experienced what you do in your PR follow-up (fax, email, telephone, leave messages, re-fax, re-email, chase down a reporter, pitch, etc.)

In other words, the inner workings only privy to your own technical capabilities, such as selling a reporter on your client's story idea, are skills you maintain and focus on. But a client never experiences this.

So what happens? They don't understand everything involved with your services and can't fully appreciate all of your expertise. And as a result, referrals don't come as fast as you like.

Remember, referrals come faster when others recognize the extent that you help improve their lives and these same people can explain what you do to others.

2. Use opportune times to discuss the subject of growht with your clients. Growth is natural. It is a part of life.

It demonstrates you are a positive, optimistic and excited adult. In fact, I haven't known many people that didn't encourage another person to grow, whether personally or professionally.

Have you noticed that when you have a growth mindset, others around you seem to be as generally excited as you? Yet discussing your desire to grow--especially with existing clients--can often be thought of as taboo to some professionals.

Weird reasons aside, they believe if they share with their clients their personal desire to grow by expanding their business and helping others--that the client will question their loyalty to them. That's ridiculous.

When I coach professionals in improving their referrals, I say an attitude and conveyance of growth is absolutely essential. In fact, it works just the opposite. Nearly every client will be thrilled that you thought so highly of them that you are asking for their help.

3. You must reward behavior that contributes to sending you referrals. It amazes me how many people don't recognize and reward others behavior.

Much like you reward a second grader who brings home a good report card, you must reward others who send business your way.

Start by focusing on your clients. Make them all aware that there is something in it for them--a discount, gift, free product, extra resource--when they refer people to you. And by all means, reward them.

But be careful. Don't fall into the trap of only rewarding the client when their referral does business with you, or you close the sale. Reward the behavior.

This isn't some cheap, gimmicky sales approach. Above all, it is honest appreciation and recognition for those people who helped you. They took time from their schedule to do you a favor--refer someone to you.

I want you to reward behavior. Even if the referral doesn't pan out, or become a client, or they turn out the worst prospect you've ever seen: reward the behavior. Always. People remember rewards. And they enjoy them.
About the Author
Daryl T. Logullo is the Founder of Strategic Impact! Marketing-Referrals-Tools.com, and MaximumReferrals.com He concentrates on referral building strategies for today's professional. Get a sample client referral letter delivered to you, FREE, at http://www.MaximumReferrals.com
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