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On Wednesday, Torey and Carl Maerz – founders of Rocket Referrals- spoke at a Lunch and Learn that provided tips that can be used to increase your referral business.   They also provided foundation knowledge to help you recognize the types of referrals you can receive, what kinds of people refer, and the reasons for their referral.

There are two types of referrals, outbound and inbound.  Outbound referrals are from lead sources that you contact, they are   similar to an average lead and trust doesn’t transfer as easily.  With an inbound referral the customer has contacted you directly, there is a higher propensity that they are ready to buy/purchase and you immediately transfer trust.

Everyone has the potential to be a referral and these are the types of people who refer: new customers who are happy about their purchase and are the type of people who like to share their good decisions, people who were a referral themselves, people you have sent referrals to that feel a sense of obligation and/or believe in reciprocity, customers who experience a positive or WOW moment that exceeded their expectations, people who have multiple products and therefore know your services best and trust you enough to buy multiple times, co-workers, neighbors, family and clubs/organizations you might be a part of, and people who have referred in the past and will refer again and again.

Most of the reasons people refer are not market driven or done for financial gain.  More often people refer for social reasons: to be helpful, increase their social status, as a favor/obligation or to share a secret value.  The stronger social connection you have with a client the less sensitive they are to be with changes or price increases.  This is not to say that they won’t ever be upset if rates increase, however people tend to be willing to pay a little extra for great service from someone they trust.

 

Not everyone is going to be the perfect customer for you.  However, if you combine the information above with the Tips below you will have a jump start on understanding your customer base, and be well on your way to increasing your referral business.

 

Tip #1  Who Referred You?

Instead of saying, “How did you hear about us?” say, “Who was it that referred you to us?  We’d/I’d like to send them a Thank You.”   This will frame the referral mindset and prompt future word-of-mouth.  Identifying referral sources is key to taking full advantage of those willing to speak up.   See Tip #6.

 

Tip #2  Send Welcome Notes to New Customers

This is about the “Wow” factor.  People rarely receive welcome notes and this is an opportunity to mention the referral.   You don’t have to stop with welcome notes, though.  Take advantage of key events by targeting your best referral sources with referral rich language and create wow moments that differentiate you from competitors.

 

Tip #3  Give Referrals

Not every prospect will be a fit for your company.  Refer these contacts to the most qualified business to serve them while making a friend in the community. Call a local business you respect; tell them that you like their company and would like to send them referrals.  Ask who their ideal client is and how you should speak about them to your customers.  Promoting others will make its way back to you in the form of referrals.

 

Tip #4  Thank Referral Sources

If they have referred in the past, encourage them to do it again.  This is especially powerful if they are not expecting a thank you.   Assure them that you will take care of their referral. By committing to a consistent referral strategy from the ground up and staying true to the course, you let your customers know you value referrals and they are important.

 

Tip #5  Ask for Testimonials

In addition to marketing material, testimonials are a way for your ambassadors to rehearse their pitch.  Not to mention people tend to remain consistent with themselves; a public testimonial is a referral waiting to happen.  Even if you don’t use them in your marketing/sales material this gets you in the habit of asking and it gets your customer in the habit of refining their referral.

 

Tip #6  Track Your Referrals

There are many ways in which someone can give a referral and tracking them helps you determine your “ideal” customer.  Use what you know about who is currently refering to get more customers like them.  This could be as simple as targeting their organizations, clubs, groups and employers.

Tip #7  Socially Driven Content

Imagine that you are on the other side of the message.  Nix your ego!  Make sure your message is what stands out, not your logo.  Use wording and phrases that show your genuine appreciation and emphasize your focus on the customer/referral.

A few examples:

“I promise to take care of your friend like we have you.”

“Our job is even more enjoyable when you know our customers are referring us.”

“We take care of all our customers, especially those that come from a referral.”

“Be a hero.  When your friends come in we’ll give them a special offer.”

Tip #8  Close the Loop on Detractors

Detractors talk negatively about your company and are most likely to leave you. Fixing their issue could turn them into a strong referral source.  This is especially true if they conflict with what promoters say.  If you aren’t able to fix their issue, help them find a product/company that is right for them.

Tip #9  Clearly State What You Offer

Be specific about all the services and product you market.  Make sure that your customers know exactly what you offer and who is right for your products.  When they know who will benefit the most from your products and services they are more likely to send people your way.  You should also ensure information about your business is straightforward and easy to find.

Tip #10  Write Blogs and Newsletters

Create pertinent and information rich content for your customers.  The more you share the more they will share.   This is an important tool since people can use this to refer to as you as the expert for advice.

There you have it.  For more information about Rocket Referrals and to find out what they can do for you, check out www.RocketReferrals.com.