Using Referrals to Grow Your Business

Understanding A Referral System

Referrers to your company are often called your unpaid sales force; they work to promote your business because they love what you do and value your services – all without expecting any sort of compensation. Any business should be working to maximize the leverage they receive through their referral network.

Your referral network can include clients, power partners, networking group members, friends, family, neighbors, associates, past co-workers, essentially anyone who knows you and recommends your services or products to others.

The providing of a referral can be done directly, in a conversation, an email, a passing of your business card, or it can be offered indirectly through public review sites such as Yelp, Google+ Local, Angie’s List and more.

Referrals are essential to every business because they help build up your reputation before the prospect has even met you. A referral is also called a warm lead, because they are a potential customer who has shown interest in your products or services, but has also already received a positive review that has given your business credibility or at least a headstart against the competition.

This leads into another topic that I will have to discuss later…how do you ensure that you get referrals? Delivering outstanding customer service, under-promising and over-delivering, are just a few ways to ensure that you have raving (happy) fans and a strong customer support base.

Referral Marketing Handout

Below are some examples of free and inexpensive advertising methods, created by Elizabeth Rupp, of Office Spots.

Free Advertising Methods:

  • Posting on www.craigslist.org
  • Facebook Fan Page
  • LinkedIn
  • Cold Calls
  • Cold Emails
  • Newsletters

Inexpensive Advertising Methods:

  • Networking (Chambers, Ind Groups)
  • Tradeshow Booths
  • Promotional Items (ie Pens, Mugs, etc)

Definition of ‘Referral’

A person or business steered to a business by an existing customer. For example, a person who needs repair work on a vehicle is referred to a particular mechanic by a satisfied customer of the mechanic.

http://business.yourdictionary.com/referral

Definition of ‘Sales Lead’

A prospective consumer of a product or service that is created when an individual or business shows interest and provides his or her contact information. Businesses gain access to sales leads through advertising, trade shows, direct mailings and other marketing efforts. They can also purchase sales leads from third-party companies. A sales lead is not a sales prospect, meaning that further qualification of the lead is necessary to determine intent and interest.

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sales-lead.asp

Definition of ‘Power Partner’

Power Partners are people who can easily refer to you because:

  • They believe in you and your product or service
  • They have a ready made referral (customer) pool to refer from
  • They are willing to share their power partners with you
  • They have a desire to be of service
  • They also want to receive referrals
  • They understand the power of networking
  • They understand the value of word of mouth advertising
  • They are willing to make a personal and business commitment to you.

http://www.bhsmilehi.org/media/Power_Partner_Definition.pdf

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Up until now I’ve received almost all of my clients and business through referrals. How do you receive your business – do you advertise or is it all word of mouth? Do you ask for referrals? Do you tell other people what an ideal referral for you would be?