How To Get More Referrals Without Asking

You may work in or even own a business which has never thought of asking for referrals.

Or, you feel obliged – because it’s expected in your profession. Maybe you just know it’s good for business to do so?

But it’s awkward isn’t it?

Some however are already swimming in referrals or an explosion of sales having decided to apply word of mouth throughout their business.

Without asking for referrals.

Those who do by the way – many of whom have never been in touch with us or paid anything – started by downloading the Do-It-Yourself guide “Business Growth Through Word Of Mouth“.

They apply it. And follow the additional articles and tips you get free as a subscriber (like this one).

(people are busy – enough ask for help to justify giving the guide and knowledge away to do-it-yourself enthusiasts).

Tip 1 – Inspire Situational And Spontaneous Referrals

This is all about doing a good job. But tweaking what you do to add in some unexpected extras. Of course just being good at what you do will spark situational referrals.

But being excellent and exceeding expectations will have people saying “guess what happened when…” followed by the story and recommendation. Learn more about that here: Word Of Mouth Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas.

Tip 2 – Reward Referring Behaviour

In some countries and professions, incentivising with a gift or even financial compensation is frowned upon. But a token gift afterwards, as long as it’s not too valuable, is perfectly acceptable.

In other words – show people just how much you appreciate their efforts. Send them a box of chocolates or flowers for example.

Include a card saying something like:

“Thanks ever so much for recommending us. Referrals are the lifeblood of our business and a great pat on the back from you which we all appreciate. Please accept this small token of our appreciation with our compliments.” 

Do you think they’ll remember that? Absolutely. And they’re far more likely to remember and refer you again.

Tip 3 – Ask Indirectly In Standard Communications

You’ve got an email signature? That’s a great place to ask without awkwardness. You can even be specific for the type of people you can ideally help.

If you send 10 emails a day, in a typical year excluding weekends and holidays, that’s 2,280 messages a year.

How many colleagues do you have? What if they did it too? 9 colleagues plus you represents 22,800 requests without ever uttering a word.

It won’t cost you a thing. It will take you a minute or two to add a line to your signature. Say something like this in between your name and your contact details:

Happy with what we do? Please tell someone who needs us. Forward this email and recommend they get in touch as follows:”

Even when they don’t forward it on, you’re planting a seed – that could flower into a situational referral next time a friend expresses a need you can help them with.

What else do you send out? Invoices, statements, e-newsletters – include an appropriate message in those communications too.

Tip 4 – For Goodness Sake Stay In Touch

It doesn’t matter what business sector you are in – look at the studies for your own sector – people lose clients and experience lower referral rates for 3 main reasons:

  • Poor advice
  • Poor service
  • Not staying in touch

You don’t need to be told that anything other than making your client happy will obliterate your chances of referrals whether you asked or not.

But staying in touch? It’s so commonly lacking across every sector, but understandable.

Especially when you are in a business that has little contact with a client day to day. Insurance for example – at renewal once a year? In the legal profession – you drafted a partnership agreement 6 months ago, but they haven’t needed you since.

Yes, this article is about getting more referrals without asking. But this point is also about retaining clients.

Now I know what you’re thinking…“But I’m busy!”.

Then publish a newsletter. Send it once a month. DON’T SELL. Advise. Educate. Inform. Include client stories. In fact feature your clients and how they apply what you do.

And why not send a short weekly tip? That’s about 38 tips and 12 newsletters a year. If you’re too busy, outsource it.

It will cost you far less than the clients every sector loses for simply not staying in touch. And it will trigger referrals. That’s because situational referrals are also about being top of mind.

And because you are in touch at least once a week, who will they remember next time a friend expresses a need you can help with?

(Yes, you can outsource your newsletters to us – we write about every topic you can imagine – all you have to do is approve what we produce and your “stay in touch with clients” problem is solved forever.)

Tip 5 – Thank Those Who Do Refer You

You may not be comfortable sending gifts. But saying thank you costs nothing. If that’s all you do, those who do recommend are more likely to do it again.

Send them an email. Or even a hand-written letter. That will really show you’re grateful and inspire more.

Feature them in your newsletter. Publicly thank them for referring. Give the article a heading such “Thanks To Bob Smith For Recommending Us”.

Then go on to do a short profile on him, his business and a link to his website. That thanks Bob, but it may also spark referrals from your other clients when they see how much you appreciate them.

Tip 6 – Instead Of Asking – Give Your Client A Boost

If you’ve read the guide, you’ll know clients quite like being interviewed about their experiences of working with you. When I do it, I point out that they will be profiled very positively.

So when they get the story, asking them to share it is very different from asking for a referral. It’s not at all awkward.

But if they do, the results can be astounding. Often, they will know people who could use your services. And when they share it, it can trigger 1 or 2.

In the example featured in How To Trigger Recommendations, one such client got 7 referrals, 3 of which filled his diary for 5 years. All he asked his client to do was share they story.

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