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6 ways to generate more referrals

Aug 30, 2017

man-shaking-hands-contract-198711-edited.jpgReferrals are an amazing way to pick up new business, but you don’t have to sit around waiting for them to happen! Asking for referrals should be an automatic part of your process, just like following up with contacts or prospecting for new leads.

Consider this: People referred to you by your loyal clients are 37% more likely to stick around, according to Deloitte. But without those referrals, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities, since word of mouth can influence 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.

It’s clear that referrals are a valuable source of new business. Here’s how you can get even more of them:

1. Remember that happy clients WANT to help you.

Your clients want you to do well, especially if you’ve already helped them do well. Remember the last time someone you liked and respected ask you for help, whether it was an introduction to a key contact or a recommendation for a new position? Chances are you were more than happy to oblige.

The same is true for your clients. If you’ve given them world-class service, they’re likely to give you a referral or two in return. And if they haven’t already, that doesn’t mean they’re unhappy: they just may not have thought of it yet. Asking them for a referral gently prompts them to think about who in their network may need your services, so they can spread the word and (happily) help you out.

2. Make asking for a referral as automatic as following up.

You already make it a point to consistently follow up with your contacts—so why not make asking for referrals an automatic part of that process? Once a deal is done and you’ve gone out of your way to help a client, it’s OK to ask them for feedback, testimonials, and yes, even referrals.

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Get in the habit of telling clients, “Hey, it’s been great working with you on this. I’d love to get your feedback on what you liked and what I could do even better next time. And if you know of anyone else I could help, I always appreciate referrals from happy clients!"

3. Time it just right.

Timing is everything. The best moment to ask for a referral is right after you’ve already done a great job for the client and they’re still celebrating the results. Catch them on this emotional upswing, and you’re more likely to get an enthusiastic “yes!” Ask too late, however, and you may get a more tepid response. Worse, ask too early, before you have any solid results to show for your work, and you risk turning the client off for good.

4. Consider offering incentives.

What would make clients more likely to make a referral? Yes, a lot of them will refer others to you simply if they’re happy with your services. But a little nudge is also a nice touch. Could you provide any free resources, insights, or special support to clients who refer you to others? How about dinner out at their favorite restaurant, or tickets to an upcoming event? Think about what your clients would love to get as a little referral “bonus,” and incorporate it into your referral ask.

5. Target complementary businesses.

When it comes to referrals, you’re not limited to just your clients. Think of all the people who are part of the CRE industry, from lawyers to architects to developers. They often work with some of the same clients as you do, so if you’ve already established good relationships with them, why not ask for referrals? Their industry connections can make them a valuable source of leads—just be ready to return the favor and send your contacts their way in the future.

6. Treat every referral like gold.

Once you do get a referral, you should provide them with absolutely top-class service. Reach out to them right away and make them feel like they’re completely taken care of. Be extra responsive to their needs, and make it a point to respond immediately to their requests.

Then, reach out to the person who referred you and thank them for sending new business your way. Assure them that their referral is in good hands, and consider sending them a special gift to show how much you appreciate them. Some clients will make multiple referrals over several years, so make sure they know how much their support means to you, each and every time.
More on how developing effective habits can grow your business 

Topics: Best Practices

Irena Ashcraft

Written by Irena Ashcraft

Irena is a freelance writer who works with innovators, educators, explorers, and changemakers. From brave nonprofits to frontier-straddling startups, she helps clients connect with their biggest fans through writing that's fresh, relatable, and fun.

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