Referral business is a great barometer of your company’s health.
When you’re getting referral business, it means that your customers believe in your offerings enough to put their reputation on the line. They want to be known among their colleagues and friends for giving good advice – and they’re willing to make you a part of that.
Now, how can you tap into that goodwill and make it a little more predictable?
Most referral business comes from “word of mouth.” That’s simple enough: One of your customers, vendors, or partners gets asked a question in your area of expertise by one of their customers, vendors, or partners, and recommends you for no other reason than you’re the right fit.
There are two things to notice about this process:
To Get Referral Business, You Need to Be On Someone’s Mind
If you have an established business relationship with a person or an organization, odds are good they won’t totally forget about you. However, they have to go one step further and remember you at the exact moment you’re needed – and that’s a little bit more challenging.
Most Referral Business Comes from Simple Goodwill
For the most part, people drive referral business because they believe they are making the best recommendation for the job at hand. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t drum up some creative ways to spark more frequent referrals so that everyone will benefit.
5 Ways to Increase Your Referral Business Fast
Look at it the right way and referral business can be treated as a business development pipeline like any other. To grow it, you need to work on one of these two levers: Brand awareness, the ability of your customers to recognize and remember when your solutions will help, and offer awareness.
Let’s highlight some of the top ways you can do it:
1. Celebrate Milestones With Your Customers
If you want people to remember you fondly, be there when they’re in their moments of triumph. When you first contact a prospect, you might scan for “trigger events” – like a new product, service, or location opening – to find common ground with them. After you make the sale, keep scanning for these events and call to check in, even if it’s only to congratulate your customers on the great work.
2. Offer Recurring Incentives for Referrals
When it comes to referral business, enterprises of all sizes can learn a lesson from smaller e-commerce entrepreneurs. Smaller sites often offer customers a fraction of the revenue those they refer generate for the business – for six months, a year, or even a lifetime. These kinds of agreements can make a big difference in how certain clients think, so contemplate how it may fit into your business.
3. Follow Up After Customer Service Events
Try as we might, nobody is perfect. When things go wrong, however, it presents you with a fresh opportunity to strengthen the relationship: By admitting to the blunder and making it right fast. Keep an eye on your customers and follow up vigorously whenever something doesn’t quite meet their expectations. Exceptional service will make them much more likely to recommend you.
4. Cross-Pollinate Your Business Relationships at Industry Events
Everyone’s heard of being a social butterfly, right? When you’re at an industry event your customers also attend, you have a chance to become a social bee. Use every opportunity you can to extend your business network by getting introductions from your customers to decision-makers at other companies. It’s not quite a direct referral, but close.
5. Collaborate in More Visible Ways – on Social Media and Elsewhere
If you want to bring a strong business relationship to the next level, seek out areas where you and your partners speak to the same audience. In some cases, you can provide great value to those people without infringing on your partner’s goals. Consider sharing each other’s content on social media and engaging in long-term content partnerships to mutually raise visibility.
Many people feel like referral business is just the luck of the draw – if you have it, great, but it’s not something you can control. It’s true that getting a referral is the end product of a lot of small interactions: Those involve a lot of people and they won’t always be perfect.
Still, you don’t have to sit back and wait for the stars to align.
By being proactive in how you manage the customer relationship, you can motivate a fraction of your customers to consistently notice and take action when your solutions are the order of the day. That will give you a stream of leads who may be predisposed to like what you have to offer, providing you with a much shorter sales cycle.
It’s like they say – you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.