Hopefully, we all know that referrals are the most effective way to find new prospects that match your business. But what are you doing to make sure your business is truly "referable", that it deserves to constantly win referral business and that it keeps on doing so? This process generally requires few dollars - just systematic excellence:

  1. Do a great job. Be great at what you do, keep your promises, deliver on time, help customers and go the extra mile.

  2. Consistently exceed your customer's expectations. Treat your customers as you would like to be treated, and delight them with what you do and how you do it. Find ways to constantly differentiate your business. Add value. Nurture your clients. These keep you ahead of your competitors and make them happy to talk about you.

  3. Develop a relationship that goes over and above just "selling". Use a database to capture important information - note details that are important to each customer - family members and pets, hobbies, stories, birthdays. Pay attention to their needs. Offer a guarantee that creates confidence.

  4. Reassure your customers about their decision to buy. Buyers often wonder if they made the right choice - colour, size, price, supplier, etc. Avoid "post-purchase dissonance" (disappointment with a product or service immediately after purchase). Make follow-up calls. Gather feedback. Ensure they know you are there to help. Building their confidence builds their willingness to refer people to your business.

  5. Deliver what your client thinks you promised. Gain a clear understanding of what they want, how much they are willing to invest and how you are going to provide the products or services before you begin working together. A good working relationship will follow, and referrals will follow that. Provide a "team commitment" statement of what you agree to do, how you will serve them, guarantees, etc.

  6. Contact customers more regularly. Implement a system so you are in regular contact with your clients. Make sure this suits or stands out positively from industry standards. Send newsletters, invitations to client-only events, thank-you or nurturing letters, special offers, birthday cards, anniversary of purchase cars, Christmas party invitations, surprise bonuses for being a great customer, articles on topics of interest, reports offering hints and tips, invitations to seminars, luncheons or industry events.

  7. Always thank customers for referring people. Offer some sort of tangible reward or benefit for referring people to you. Generally, it isn't necessary to offer "spotters" or finders fees. Bonus products or services, or tickets to a movie, show or sports event are likely to be appreciated as is a bottle of wine, flowers, etc. Consider the "lifetime value" to select something appropriate. Or simply write and hand-written thank you note and personal message.

  8. When your customers tell you that you've done a great job, ASK. You will be more likely to be uncomfortable than your customer. Most will be more than happy to refer. Some will have already been talking about your business because they've been happy. The worst-case scenario is that they'll ask to get back to you. Make a note and follow up later. Develop a script that would suit you, and train team members in those processes. A simple script might be: “That’s great, it’s really good to hear. Thank you. I’m so glad it’s done well for you. You know, there’s one thing that might mean we could provide you with even better products and services and that is to keep growing this business. Referrals are often a great way to do that, and given what you’ve just said, perhaps you could think of someone similar to yourself who might need our help. Someone you would be happy to recommend to us?”