It’s no secret that referrals are an excellent way to boost sales; potential customers are much more comfortable doing business with people they meet via personal recommendations.  Wouldn’t you be?  Why is it then that they seem so difficult to come by?  Pursuing referrals is a lot like any other skill; it takes commitment and practice.  The first step is making the search for referrals a regular and necessary part of your business.  Implement the following suggestions to start doing so.

  • Ask!  This seems obvious, but many people shy away from asking for referrals directly from their customers.  There are, of course, certain ways to ask that are more effective than others, such as being specific.  For example, instead of asking, “Who do you know that would want my services?” a better question is, “Who do you know that loves to cook?” A specific question will draw more names from your customer and will also bring you relevant leads rather than a whole list of people who may not be interested in what you offer.
  • Help others.  You may be missing an opportunity to put yourself in a mutually beneficial situation.  Attending a charity event in which a friend or family member is involved can be useful in obtaining referrals.  You will be helping someone out, contributing to a cause, and meeting new prospects all at the same time.
  • Build strong relationships.  Of course you want your clients to trust you, but you also want them to be enthusiastic about doing business with you.  Find out what your customers are passionate about and cater to that when interacting with them.  You will be able to add a personal touch to your business dealings, which will in turn impress your customer, who will want to tell his or her friends about you.  Always be professional, courteous, and caring.
  • Set a precise goal for yourself.  Make it part of your daily work day to ask for referrals.  Keep track of how many you ask for every day, and as you feel more comfortable pursuing referrals, challenge yourself by increasing that number and setting a new goal.
  • Send out holiday cards.  It’s that time of year again, and holiday cards, if done well, can really stand out and lead to referrals.  Remember that most people put their cards on display, where party guests and family members will see them.  So take some time to create a unique card that is noticeable, and send it early so it will be one of the first to make it to your customer’s display.
  • Offer rewards.  When a customer does give you a referral, let them know how much you appreciate it.  A handwritten note sent through snail mail is very thoughtful in this age of emails, texts, and video chats.  Furthermore, don’t hesitate to get creative.  For example, whenever a customer gives you a referral, send the customer a scratch-off lottery ticket along with a quick thank you card.  Because you’re showing that you are genuinely grateful, they won’t think twice about referring you to others again and again.

What are some creative methods you have used to acquire referrals?  We’d love to hear from you!

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