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How to get customers to refer your business

business networking event

When it comes to making sales, few things are more powerful than a customer referral. They’re simple, effective, and absolutely free! We love when referrals come our way. Yet many entrepreneurs are reluctant to actively pursue them. If you’re like that, than consider this. Every business relationship can lead to additional business relationships. When customers are happy with the products or services you’re providing, that’s a perfect referral opportunity. Chances are, those customers would be delighted to refer you, but might not think of it on their own. Those customers need to be prompted and that’s up to you.

Buyers prefer to deal with companies they know and trust. Being referred has a similar effect to the customer’s feeling about the company being referred. It’s not really difficult to request a referral. Often, it’s a matter of just taking action, or getting into the habit of asking. Here is 10 ways to get you started.

  1. When a customer says something good about your company, respond with a thank you, followed by a prompt casual referral request.
  2. The best way to get a referral is to do a great job. Ask your customers what “great service” means to them. Ask for feedback on your performance. Once you know and do what makes your customers happy, you will get better referrals.
  3. It sounds odd but you can encourage your customers to complain. Complaints give you an opportunity to make a customer more happy, and picky customers often give the best referrals.
  4. Some entrepreneurs make referrals part of their front-end agreement with new customers. As in, “We’re going to work hard to prove ourselves. Once we do, will you give us four referrals in return?” Driven people like to work with other driven people. Be one.
  5. Build relationships with people who will provide you with referrals, and return them whenever possible. Thanks to social media like LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s easier than ever to build a network of mutually-supportive contacts.
  6. Once you’ve got a network, keep working it. Beyond referrals, offer your contacts support. Share resources and solutions to common business problems. The more you nurture your business relationships, the more people will think of you when it’s time to give a referral.
  7. Don’t assume your business contacts know what you’re looking for. Describe your target customer as specifically as possible, and encourage them to do the same.
  8. Always carry a few business cards. You never know who you may run into, who they’ll be with, or where conversations might lead. When you meet someone you’d like to connect with, ask if you may call them to set up an appointment.
  9. The most effective networkers tend to make a point of planning for events. They know they’ll be asked “what’s new?” and “how’s business?” They always will have an interesting answer ready.
  10. Maybe you’re not comfortable at networking events? Set specific goals for before any event. Like introducing yourself to the speaker, talking to five new people, or introducing three contacts to each other.

You mainly will get referrals when people are happy with the quality of your products or service. You also will get referrals if a person trusts you (like a friend or long term business partner). But even with these, a little push will go a long way and getting more referrals.