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- Think in reverse. Instead of asking for one, earn one. If you’re not getting referrals, maybe you’re not providing the service your customers want and you are not as good as YOU think. Ask your customers what you can do to better to serve THEIR needs. When your customers are satisfied, it’ll be easy to get referrals.
- Give a referral. If you change your way of thinking from How do I get a referral to ‘how can I give a referral’, the rewards will be surprising. Think of someone you can refer to your clients. This is the giver’s gain philosophy
- Make a list of people or businesses that sell products that are complimentary to yours. If you sell health insurance, your list might include health clubs, running clubs, basketball teams or physicians. Now create a referral program that pays referral fees for people who are sent to you by your referral partners. Put a tracking mechanism in place to monitor this and make this process effective and rewarding.
- Ask indirectly. One of the best ways to ask for a referral without being obvious is to ask indirectly. You might say something like: “Mrs. Smith, my product (or service) is everything I say it is and more, and I have the reputation and experience that proves it. Is there someone you know who would benefit from my product (or service)?”
- Research Local churches in your area. Many are always looking for innovative ways to raise money to sustain the programs they offer to their members. Most churches would be enthusiastic about the opportunity to receive a donation from you or your business. Simply call up the person in charge and ask if you can meet with him or her to talk about a potential fundraising activity. As above with the charity example, propose that for every referral they send your way, you will donate a percentage of the sales to the church. In return, the church should agree to promote your business. This same referral process can be done with the booster clubs of local sports teams, Girl Scout troops and other organizations looking to raise money.
- Contact your business associates. Most everyone has a barber or hairstylist they use on a frequent basis, especially if they have children (I don’t know about you, but my beautician always engages me in conversation during my haircut!). Most beauticians and barbers are delighted when you give them a tip. Now you can visualize…where I’m going with this?
Why not approach the local barbers and hairstylists and offer them $1 or $2 for every referral card they pass out to their customers? You might even motivate them to talk up your business by promising them a percentage of each sale that results from their referral.
- Develop Good Will. The last referral system will not only bring you referrals, but will also create a lot of goodwill. I learned this tactic, strangely enough, by Princess Diana and a local real estate agent. When Princess Diana died, a close associate of hers was interviewed and revealed that Diana always carried a set of “royal” thank you notes.
Every time she met with someone, she would remember their name, and as soon as she got in her car, she would write a short thank you note to them. People cherished the thank you notes they received from the Princess. After hearing that, I started to carry around my own box of thank you notes.