Stop Begging for Referrals!

by David Frey

Learn how to develop a system for getting referrals.

person connected to other people
Image source: BigStockPhoto.com

Just about every course or book that deals with getting referrals teaches you one single referral method - - "asking" for referrals.

Yes, they'll teach you how you have to give good service and then they give you a formula for asking for referrals and that's all well and good....BUT...

...there's a HUGE problem with this approach. People HATE to ask for referrals. You hate it, I hate it, and the people that get asked hate it.

And the bottom line is... people won't do what they hate to do. That's just simple human nature. Asking people for referrals is right up there with asking your friend to come to church with you on Sunday. It's downright uncomfortable.

The sad result is that people don't get even a tiny amount of the referrals they could be getting simply because the whole "asking" process is flawed.

Here's the Other Problem with Asking for Referrals...

Let's just suppose for a moment that you do ask for referrals. Do you ask all your clients and customers?  Do you ask them every time you see them? Probably not. Why?



Because it's not a systematic process for you. There's not a bell that goes "ding!" to remind you to ask for a referral every time you're with a customer. But if you REALLY want a LOT of referrals. I mean an avalanche of referrals, you need to have a systematic process for getting them.

Referral S - Y - S - T - E - M - S

Systems are business processes that have predictable results and outcomes because they happen the same way ever time, day in and day out.

I like to think of systems using this acronym:

S-ystems save
Y-ou
S-tress
T-ime
E-nergy and
M-oney

If you want to get more referrals you need to implement referral s-y-s-t-e-m-s. And the referral system needs to be "transactional" and NOT "relationship-based." 

NOTE: I'm about to ruffle a LOT of feathers with this one. It goes against everything you've been taught about getting referrals.

"Transaction-Based" Referrals - The Key to Getting a Consistent, Predictable Flow of Fresh Referrals

A lot of people who teach you about getting referrals will tell you that if you nourish your relationship with your customer or client they'll give you referrals.

That's not necessarily true.

I'll bet some of your very best customers haven't given you one referral. Why? Because they're busy and have a thousand other things on their mind...just like you. If you rely on just your relationships to get you referrals you'll be disappointed.

The key to getting a consistent stream of referrals is to build the referral process into the transaction! That's right, you need to build your referral system INTO the TRANSACTION.

Here's a Great Example of "Transaction-Based" Referral Systems

The other day I received a promotional letter from TXU Energy (a Texas Energy Company). In the promotional letter they included a leaflet that offered $40 to anyone who referred a friend and became a customer. Would you like to see it?

Here's the front side. 

And here's the back side.

They also send this leaflet along with their billing statements. When someone comes out to your house to do maintenance work or respond to a call they leave behind this leaflet.

You see, when a "transaction" happens, they ask for a referral. There's no face-to-face asking. They don't wait until it's the "right time." It happens every time there's a transaction. 

Because of this, TXU gets a steady stream of referrals. In fact, they can predict with some accuracy that if they give out X amount of leaflets, they'll get back in X amount of referrals. The results are (1) predictable, (2) consistent, and (3) repeatable.

Applying this Referral Strategy to Your Business

Ask yourself how you can apply this referral strategy to your business. It doesn't matter if you're a consultant, dry cleaner, auto dealership, or even a large energy company, you can use this referral strategy. And there are so many variations and applications of this simple referral technique that ANY business can do it.

Conclusion

If all you're doing is asking for referrals then you're missing out on a lot of referrals you could be getting. Start thinking about how you can implement at least one referral system in your business today.

Institutionalize that referral process so that it happens consistently. Give an incentive for your customer or client to give you a referral. Then start watching the referrals pour in.

To your success.

About the Author:
David Frey is President of Marketing Best Practices Inc., a small business marketing consulting firm and the editor of the Marketing Best Practices Newsletter. 

 
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