Like most of our professional services clients, our business is heavily driven by referrals. Most of these referrals come from current clients, past clients, strategic referral partners, friends, and family. So naturally, when I heard that Exact Target was hosting a lecture by John Jantsch, author of “The Referral Engine,” I was intrigued to attend.
Non-fiction isn’t always my go-to reading material. So for me to come back from John’s presentation, inspired to run out and buy his book, says A LOT! After reading and literally studying his book, I wanted to share some of my take-aways.
First, I encounter very few business development professionals or companies that have a plan in place for soliciting referrals. I think we share the mindset that, “I get business and do good work, and my clients will tell other people about me. I will get new business simply by meeting or exceeding expectations and giving the customer an amazing experience.” But, in reality, once we have earned the right to ask for a referral, how often do we really ask?
From this I concluded that we need to develop a strategy for soliciting referrals. We must ensure that the people who have had positive experiences with our brand in the past are educated about our services. It also helps if they understand what pain points to listen for and how to refer us if the opportunity arises. It can often take several meetings or campaigns for these groups to truly understand how to refer you, thus you must regularly communicate with them.
Second, it’s easy to ask for referrals from friends, family, and referral partners, but why is it so much harder to ask our clients? We wouldn’t ask for a referral if we did not feel that we had delighted the client and earned that right. So my challenge to each of you is to set expectations when you first engage with a client. Express that your goal is to give them a first-class experience, a smooth process, and the result they envisioned. Encourage them to be open and honest in working with you so you can manage and ensure a pleasant experience along the way.
Finally, be sure to let your clients know in advance that you will be asking them if they know anyone else that could also benefit from your services. It makes us all feel good when we make a referral that will make someone else’s life, business, or situation better. In turn, doing so will quicken your sales cycle, lessen the competition, and be a win-win for everyone.
So, what are you doing today to create your next referral?
You can learn more about “The Referral Engine” at www.referralenginebook.com