Small businesses today depend on referrals from customers and other clients. And it is more beneficial than ever, thanks to social media. Most people learn about the products you sell or the service you provide through referrals or recommendations from other people they know.
Getting these critical referrals, though, can feel like a long swim against the current if you don’t know these seven methods to help you drum up recommendations from your current pool of clients and customers.
1) Cultivate relationships with compatible businesses. The key here is to go with businesses in industries that work as a complement to your own rather than those in competition with you.Smallbiztrends.com gives the example of a home renovation company developing a relationship with an interior designer so that both businesses can share referrals.
2) Incentivize referrals. Give people a reason to refer your business. Choose items or offers that matter to your customers and offer them as incentives for referrals. Whether it’s discounts, free products, bonus products, or chances to win larger gifts or prizes, people love being rewarded for the things they do. If you want more immediate results, make it a time-sensitive offer. Give them a deadline to offer those referrals and you’ll have them pouring in daily.
3) Invite customers to share the love on social media. Social media is not going away. The time has come to embrace social media. It has much to offer your business as an easy platform to for gaining referrals and notice on the World Wide Web. Create a business page on Facebook and invite customers to like your page. Offer contests and giveaways for people who like and share your posts on Facebook or retweets on Twitter. You’ll be amazed by the positive exposure your business gains.
4) Learn to ask the right way. As difficult as it is for some businesses to ask for referrals, most business owners, once they finally decide to bite the bullet and go for it, do it in a way that nets them very little return. Ask specific referral questions. Instead of asking, “Do you know someone who could use these tea trays?” Try asking, “Will you tell all the ladies in your bridge club about our gorgeous tea trays?”
5) Deliver outstanding customer service. This is something you must do every day in order to make your business thrive. However, when your small business is seeking referrals from customers, and it always should be, it carries even greater importance. You want your customers to have a good experience to share. Even when things go wrong, helpful, courteous customer service, can completely transform the experience into one that is worth a referral from the customer or client’s perspective.
6) Automate the referral process. Forbes recommends automating the referral process in order to avoid allowing important opportunities to slip through the cracks. Many CRM tools are widely available for businesses and help you get all the reminders and emails out at the appropriate time.
7) Make it a competition. If you really want to get the referrals rolling in, make it a competition. People are competitive by nature. They love the thrill of competition and seeing their names on leaderboards. Offer prizes for people who offer the most referrals (or for anyone who offers a certain number of referrals). It’s a great way to take advantage of competitive natures while also giving something back to the people who are helping you grow your business.
You don’t have to make massive changes to the way you do business in order to get the referrals you need to help your business grow in the coming year. Just following these seven simple methods can net a surprising return for your business.