I assume you’ve got to go to quite some lengths to communicate with the Afterworld.  That probably includes, but might not be limited to, getting hold of an Ouija board, drawing a pentagon on the floor, lighting some candles, coming up with some killer questions and rolling your eyes into the back of your head. Seems pretty intense, a whole lot of effort and to most of us, highly undesirable, even risky.

Weirdly that seems to be the reaction I get when I ask some business owners what their referral strategies to generate quality leads are! Well, their eyes certainly roll into the back of the heads which is always a bit disconcerting!

But why?

If word of mouth is the cheapest AND most effective form of generating new leads, why aren’t business leaders more focused on helping their teams execute this really, really well?

Did you know there are over 20 different strategies you could be using to generate more referrals? And I’m talking about quality leads – the ones that convert to revenue. Now. Profitably. Referrals and recommendations are much easier to convert into paying customers than leads from any other source.

Robert Cialdini said in his book The Psychology of Persuasion, that two of the most important things for influencing people are Trusted Adviser & Social Proof. Referral marketing more than just ticks both of those boxes. If someone is actually advocating you and your business, that’s social proof that you’re obviously doing a good job and that you’re an expert in your field.

So how should you go about building your referral strategy? No you don’t have to have some elaborate plan involving meeting under the full moon at midnight. Getting referrals is far easier than getting in touch with the Afterlife!

Here are some ideas to build your strategy…

  1. Just ask for them! Do you currently ask EVERY client for referrals? If so, when in the customer journey do you ask for them? The best time to ask for referrals is when the emotion is the highest – when you’ve over delivered on your promises, delighting your customers and exceeding their expectations.
  2. Positioning. A fancy word for preparing your customers in advance that you’ll ask them for a referral. Don’t leave it to the last minute – positioning referrals should be done before the sale is closed. If you have the confidence to position that every customer is asked for referrals, it will give the customer confidence that you’re great at what you do. That means they will be thinking about who they can refer you to right away AND they are already thinking about how they will be delighted by your products and services.
  3. Strategic Alliances – what kind of businesses have the same or similar customer bases but don’t compete with you? That’s where the opportunity to build a strategic alliance with them exists. Work in a planned and collaborative way together and you will generate good quality leads for each other – win-win!
  4. Suppliers.  If you haven’t let your suppliers know that you are looking to grow your business, how do they know to refer you. In fact, if you haven’t asked, they’re probably referring someone else right now – one of your competitors! So talk to them and make sure it’s you they refer. Be aware, one thing guaranteed to destroy this strategy faster than turning the light on at a seance is to not follow up properly – do this and you damage your supplier’s reputation and if you do, you can be sure they won’t be recommending you any longer.
  5. Business Networking Groups – if you haven’t tried this, do. But do it well. The right Groups are an excellent source of quality referrals – but be aware – you will only get out as much as you give.

A couple of final points:

Make it easy for all of your referral partners by giving them more than just your name, phone number and a bunch of business cards. Why not design something something that your partner can hand over or email to a potential prospect. This could be a well worded introduction email, a voucher with genuine value or similar reason to make contact.

And finally, remember if you want on-going referrals, think about how you reward you referee.  It could be a simple and genuine thank you in a card for example, a lunch on your tab or even a financial acknowledgement.  Keep them in the loop, take the time to recognise their contributions and they’ll refer you again, and again.

Creating a referral strategy that works for your business is an incredibly effective way to generate high quality leads regularly.

This stuff really works. And whilst there are no dark arts involved some of the things that make it successful are not necessarily obvious. If you’d like some help reviewing and taking control of your business growth strategies get in touch. Alternatively you could choose to hang around alters on dark and stormy nights wearing black robes and pointy hats and see how that works out for you…