Forget Marketing, I Would Rather Get Referrals [Updated]

June 28, 2012

by Justine Parsons

 

Updated 30th June … #5

Ok, forget the sensational headline, we all need to market our business.  However, are you putting the same resource and focus into your customer service as you are your marketing?  Through exemplary customer service, you position yourself to get referrals (unless you’re a parking meter warden!).  Referrals cost you less, referrals allow you to interact with prospective clients further up the conversion ladder and referrals make you feel great!

How to position yourself for referrals 

  1. Treat EVERYONE as if they are your only customer.  They may not be a customer, they may be a social connection, a [gasp] competitor, a supplier or an actual client.  Without a crystal ball, you have no idea what these individuals will be doing, or who they will be talking to in the future.
  2. Go out of your way to be helpful.  All the time, every time.  By going the extra mile you show commitment to service and develop a reputation for being a great person / business to deal with.  Being helpful may mean referring another business, offering added value, sending them some information or using your initiative to solve a problem.
  3. Your problems are not your clients.  There is nothing worse than hearing why you can’t have what you need when you need it because … the boss is away or you’re too busy.  Keep your problems where they belong, in-house.
  4. Your client’s problems are your problems.  Solve the problem if at all possible, if you can’t (and it’s not always possible) then offer alternatives.  A very simple example would be a client wanting to book a venue.  The venue is pre-booked but rather than saying “Sorry, we can’t help you” you could say “Sorry, that venue is booked but we do have another venue which would fit all your requirements” or “I do have an unconfirmed booking for that venue, could I confirm with the client and come back to you in the next half hour?”
  5. This point came to me after reading the comments below (login to your Facebook account to view).  My final tip is regrettably outside our control, though you can influence to a certain extent by surrounding yourself and working with the ‘right individuals”.  Not everyone will go out of their way to refer you to their network.  I have been lucky enough to attract, meet and work with some great people who are basically ‘nice’.  A wishy washy adjective I know but it does sum up the type of people who constantly refer both myself and others within their network.  I know that it’s not about ‘what’s in it for them’, often I’m not in a position to refer business back (though I won’t hesitate should the opportunity arise), they are just nice!  So yes, there is a bit of luck involved in this ‘how to get referrals‘ business!

Scenario

How to Get Referrals

I started following Mike Morgan of High Profile Enterprises a few years ago on Twitter.  I liked his content and the way he interacted with his followers.  After developing a relationship online we met for a coffee.  Online connections connecting offline!

Months later, Mike referred me to Darren Woolley at Trinity P3 for a Facebook project.  Facebook being what it is, the project offered its share of challenges but with Mike’s help we developed a great timeline and [yippee] Darren was happy with the end product.

A month later, Darren referred me to Annalie Killian who, being the busy professional she is, was looking to outsource some of her online tasks.

Annalie has since referred me onto Jeanette Verster Photography, Maureen Thurston and the Centre for Career Development.

All from a cup of coffee with a great guy!

Not forgetting …

And that’s just one connection.  I’d also like to thank the following clients who have referred me in the past few months [indulge me, they deserve the thanks!]:

What goes around comes around

It goes without saying that you should also refer where possible.  That referral may never be able to return the favour … our they might, but that’s not the point.  The point is offering clients and connections your help whenever possible.

I had written a post previously about the power of a thank you.  Whether you send a tweet, a gift voucher or pick up the phone, ALWAYS take the time to say thanks.  It’s the least you can do!

How to get referrals?  Be referable!

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