When you’re a small business owner or just starting out, you might not have a huge advertising budget for you to reach a large audience. Even if you do, you might not want to spend that kind of money when you can save a lot more tapping into your own networks for business until it gets exhausted. For now, your best source of new business is referrals from your satisfied customers. They could be your friends or acquaintances.
The question here is: Are they actively promoting your business to their networks? The challenge to address here is: How do you motivate them to recommend your business to both their social and professional networks? The answer is: You need to make it easier and rewarding for them to do so.
Here are the eight effective ways you can use to get your happy customers to bring in more customers for your business.
1. Ask for referrals…all the time!
This doesn’t apply only to your customers, you can also ask for referrals from people who don’t buy from you. When your prospect tell you that he/ she is not interested, before you thank them and move on to the next prospect, ask them if they can think of anyone who might be interested. If they do, ask them for referrals. Then you can thank them for their help, buy them a coffee and continue to close them (who knows they will decide to buy from you after a little bit more of convincing).
When you ask for referrals, you would want your customers or prospects to give you the contacts directly. Most people, including me, will be hesitant to do so because I don’t want the people I know getting ambushed by salespeople in my name. So, the best way to make them feel at ease is to get the contacts by asking your customers, “Is it okay if I mention your name when I call them or would you prefer to let them know beforehand that I might be calling them?”
2. After you asked for referrals, you need to remind them from time to time.
Remember that this is your own business. They’re not obliged to constantly remember that they need to ‘advertise’ for you. Keep them posted on the latest offers or promotions you might have. If there’s none, you can still keep in touch by providing them with added value services. In my case, I always send my customers who purchase health supplements from me tips related to health and fitness. As for my clients in my coaching business, I will send them free eBooks on the topics that are of interests to them. So, get creative and think of ways to add values to them. This will not only encourage them to recommend you to others, they will be more inclined to keep buying from you.
3. Make it really easy by providing resources and guiding them how to refer you
You cannot expect your customers to know your business details in and out. I have only a few customers who know my products very well because they love details and want to know what they’re buying. I also have customers who know that my products will benefits them but otherwise, don’t know how to explain them with all the technical jargons involved.
In order to make it effortless for your customers to advertise you, you can do the following:
Provide the link to your website or related websites that contains information about your products/ services.
Give them some of your business cards so they can give your contacts to others right away when they recommend you.
Send them FAQs on your products/ services.
Get them to describe their experience with your products/ services so that you can turn them into testimonials.
4. Reward them
It can be as simple as a thank you, buying them meals, getting them small gifts or vouchers. It’s not advisable to reward them in the monetary form because that’s like buying referrals from them. It can lead to unethical selling of contacts. If they’re also business owners themselves, the best reward that you can give them is a referral back to them.
5. Return the favour
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can return the favour to your customers by giving them referrals appropriate for their line of business. If they’re not running any businesses, you can always help them in return on something else as and when they ask for your support.
6. Tap into the power of social media
Everything gets viral in the social media. You need to get connected to your customers so that you can engage with them from time to time. Connect with your customers in social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube so they can receive updates from you constantly.
7. Invite them to your business gatherings and networking events
Involve your customers in your networking activities. You never know that they might get to know people that could potentially be valuable to them on a personal or professional level. You can invite them to seminars, talks, or outings regardless of whether or not it’s related to your business. That’s when we get to know them on a personal level, which will be explained next.
8. Get to know them on a personal level
You heard it a lot, “Don’t mix business with pleasure.” It’s true to certain extent especially when a personal relationship will cloud your judgment in a business settings, for example, a boss and a subordinate, a doctor and a patient, a lawyer and a client, etc. However, in most cases, you have a lot more to earn if you make the effort to know your customers on a personal level. It makes great sense if you’re a business owner, network marketer, insurance agent, financial planner or a business coach.
By getting to know them, you discover more about their needs, wants and interests. You become part of their life and they become part of yours. Not only that you’re securing a lifetime business deal with this person, you have a lifetime friendship, which money can’t buy.
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