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How To Get Referrals Month After Month After Month

Oct 12, 2007
It's another day at the office, and you're waiting for a potential customer to call or walk in.

How different would your business be if your current customers were enthusiastically seeking out prospective customers for you? Imagine how exciting it would be to talk to people who already know about you and your products or service. How difficult would it be to close those sales?

Selling to those people would be simple. So why aren't your current customers bringing you referrals? Perhaps it's because you have not shown them how, motivated them, made it easy for them, asked them or started the process.

Getting good quality referrals requires planning and preparation.

Start by making a list of all the people who might be a referral source for you. Start with your current clients. Which ones are currently sending you business? Which ones are very satisfied with your product or service and the results they are getting?

Next consider people you know who would have access to people who would be ideal prospects for you. People such as your attorney, accountant, banker, broker, etc.

Now, go through you list and pick out the top ten to twenty percent of your best referrers. There's a good chance you already have some people who regularly recommend prospective customers to you. Start with these potential referral sources. You'll have better results developing stronger relationships with a few referral sources rather than shallow relationships with lots of sources.

In order to help your referrals sources to give you good, qualified referrals, you need to get crystal-clear about what you are looking for. Who is your ideal prospect?

What problems do your products and services solve? It will be easier for your referral sources to spot potential clients for you if they are clear about what problems to look for.

When you are clear about describing the recommendations you want, you make it easier for your referral sources to identify prospective customers for you.

Now that you have identified several possible referral sources and you are clear about the types of clients you want, it's time to create a customized plan for each referral source. One important aspect to remember is, what does your referral source gain by referring people to you? People want to know what's in it for them.

Some of your referral sources will do it just because they are so sold on your product or service. Others will need some other benefits in order to become good sources of referrals. So think of as many benefits as you can for those people to referr business to you.

To instill confidence in your referral source, you need to let them know exactly what you will do when given a referral. Your referral source has surely developed valuable relationships over the years and will be reluctant to do anything that might jeopardize those relationships. Be specific as to what will happen when your referral source gives you a referral. A simple, step-by-step process that shows how you will represent yourself will provide assurance that the potential customer will be treated with respect and dignity.

Next, discuss the specific actions you want from your referral source. Do you want them to call the potential customer? What do you want them to say? Would you prefer they arrange a three-way appointment? Often, people want to give you referrals, but don't know exactly what to do or how to do it. Train them; coach them; help them get clear on what's expected of them.

When a satisfied customer sends someone to you the sender should immediately receive some recognition and appreciation. Possibly a quick thank you note or telephone call at bare minimum. That should happen right away. Some type of thank you gift is usually appropriate and effective.

I've sent steaks, books, clocks, calculators, small electronic items, knife sets, all sorts of things. I recommend gifts that you do not ordinarily sell and a different gift each time the person refers. You will really be amazed at the positive results from this kind of action.

You'd also be surprised at the negative results of not doing this. The client who refers once and fails to get recognition and appreciation will probably never say anything to you, but to himself and often to a friend or associate he does say, "Can you believe it? I sent that guy a customer and never got as much as a thank you." And then he never refers again.

From the new referrals and clients you obtain from those referrals, you can start the process all over again and develop new referral sources. This is a great way to dramatically increase your business without the time and effort of cold calling and cold prospecting.

Developing and implementing an effective referral strategy can produce a steady stream of new business for years to come. You can achieve your professional goals faster and easier through effectively targeting referrals.
About the Author
Jim Klein helps salespeople fine tune the sales process so they can confidently close more sales and create long term relationships. Get free sales training by subscribing to our free newsletter "The Sales Advisor".
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