When it comes down to it, personal recommendations are essential in helping you build a strong clientele base. Referred customers are more likely to place their trust in you based on a family member or friend’s seal of approval, but asking for those referrals may not come easily to you. Try these quick and easy tips to help increase your referral business.
1. Add a subtle pitch to your email signature. Every email you send can be an opportunity to promote your business. Consider adding a line to your signature that encourages referrals, such as: “The best compliment you can offer is a referral!”
2. It’s okay to ask. Believe it or not, no matter how fantastic their experience with you, referring your services may not even occur to your clients until you ask them. And if they count on you to be assertive when it comes to closing their transaction, there’s nothing wrong with being assertive in asking for their referral business.
3. Be specific. Most of us like to help solve problems, so ask specific questions of your clients. Do they know someone who spends too much on rent, or is outgrowing their current home? Your inquiry may spark their memory of a particular family member or friend who could really use your help.
4. Say thank you. Go out of your way to thank and recognize people who have given you referrals. A good old-fashioned, handwritten thank you note delivered via good old-fashioned snail mail goes a long way in today’s electronic world. Many people also appreciate more public recognition of their efforts, so complimenting them in front of others may be effective in showing how much you value them and referrals.
5. Get personal. If at all possible, ask for the referral when you’re face-to-face with your client. It’s not only more respectful, but often more successful. It’s human nature to want to help someone just a little bit more if they’re standing right in front of you.
6. Fake it ’til you make it. Asking for referrals doesn’t always come naturally. Some people are uncomfortable with it because they don’t want to be perceived as being pushy or unprofessional, or to put the client in an awkward position. If that’s the case, change your mindset and look at it from a position of you being helpful. You’ve just helped your client with their transaction, perhaps you can do the same for someone they know? It may seem unnatural at first, but you’ll likely become more comfortable with practice.
7. Timing is everything. Choose your moment wisely. The best time to ask for a referral is often when your client shows appreciation or thanks you for your hard work. It might go something like this: “Thanks for everything, you’ve been wonderful to work with.” That’s your opening to try something like this: “I’m so glad I could help, that’s why I love my job. If you know anyone else I can help, I’d appreciate you passing my name on to them.”
8. No risk, no reward. Don’t let shyness get in the way of building your business. Referrals equal clients, and the more you ask for, the more you’ll get. Try to think of it as a small effort for a great reward.
9. Don’t forget special occasions. Send birthday, anniversary and holiday cards to your clients. It’s a great way to stay connected, and another opportunity to ask for a referral.
10. Network and volunteer. Get out, get involved, and meet new contacts. Most people would rather do business with someone they know and trust than a complete stranger.
If you’re looking for more clients, work at setting aside your apprehensions and getting in the habit of asking for referrals from all of your satisfied customers.