Having been in business for over 35 years, I am very lucky to be in a position where a good number of my clients come via referrals. I never know where my next referral is coming from, but I connect regularly enough with my network in a variety of ways to nurture my contacts and keep the wheels turning. In fact, I’m not alone in this! A 2022 study by Small Business Trends found that 43% of UK businesses cite referrals as their top way to get new clients. This makes referrals the most popular marketing channel for UK businesses, followed by social media (27%), networking (17%), and content marketing (13%).
The study also found that referrals are a particularly effective marketing channel, with 85% of businesses reporting that they have a high conversion rate from referrals. I can understand this, as referrals coming from people who already know and trust the business in question mitigate a lot of the risk of trying a new business out. In this blog I share some top tips on how to make the most of referrals as a source of quality leads for your business – and for others around you!
- Make it easy for people to refer. Include a prompt for referrals everywhere you might engage with a happy client – for example on your website, in your email signature, and on social media. You can also create referral cards that your clients can hand out to their friends and family. When you ask a client or a member of your network for a referral, be specific about the type of person you are looking for. For example, I often remind my network that I can help business owners at any stage of taking on or relocating business premises, from property search right through to lease negotiation.
- Ask for referrals at the right time. Don’t wait until the end of your client project or programme to ask for a referral. Instead, ask at a time when your client has expressed satisfaction with your product or service, such as after they have seen a tangible shift or result. This is often the ideal time to make use of this momentum in your relationship.
- Track your results. This will help you to see which referral requests and strategies are most effective for your business. You could even use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track your referrals and other customer data.
- It may be business, but make it personal. When you ask for a referral, be sure to personalise your request. Explain to your client or contact who you are looking for, or why you think someone they have mentioned to you would be a good fit for your product or service. Once a client has referred you to someone they know, don’t forget to follow up with them to thank them and to see how the referral went. You may also want to offer them a small gift as a token of your appreciation, but a handwritten note, a phone call, or an email will go a long way!
- Give more than you receive. Don’t forget that time spent nurturing your network is always a wise business investment. For every referral you’re asking for, try to give at least one referral to someone else, if not more! It’s a two-way street, after all.
- Consider offering an incentive. This could be a discount, a free product or service, or even a bottle of gin! The incentive should be something that will motivate customers to refer people they know to your business.
By focusing on these basics you can ensure you are not only making the most of referrals for your business but nurturing your network by referring others too. Who will you write a referral for today?