Getting referrals – the bread and butter of your business

Let’s face it: You need new clients to boost your business efficiency. But where can you find them? Investing in advertising and cold calling might sound ambitious, and these are expensive exercises that don’t always result in client conversion. The alternative? Getting referrals!

Generated by existing clients who are happy with your services, referrals are likely to bring you new business in no time. After all, what can be better than following a trustworthy advice?

The scheme is simple: Your clients genuinely think that your company offers excellent service. They want to share this knowledge with others. As a result, you can grow your business even further.

It seems so easy and exciting! No marketing and advertising expenses, no hassles, no worries, no kidding.

Well, sort of. In the ideal world, it might be the case but in reality, your clients are just as busy as you are and don’t have much time to think about your business goals.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to help but you need to ask them for assistance and set clear guidelines, ultimately planting a seed in their mind about referring the right clients to you. The ones that tick your boxes – be it the correct business size, industry, location or operation practices; the ones that pay on time and aren’t a pain to deal with.

Explain why you need referrals

You probably think to yourself, “What, should I just tell my customers that I desperately need more business? Won’t it put me in a vulnerable position?”

No, it won’t. In business, honesty is an asset, not a weakness. However, it also depends on how you ask for referrals, of course. Here is an example:

Start with an email or a letter to your existing top-list clients and specify that you:

  • analysed your business patterns and realised that generating referrals is the most effective way of growing your business
  • show that you value their opinion and rely on their assistance to help you bring in more clients just like them
  • want to continue serving them well into the future and, therefore, need to ensure long-term sustainability.

Don’t set unrealistic expectations and ask for two referrals this month. End your letter with a sentence that you will give them a call to discuss it further and don’t forget to follow up in a few days.

There are many strategies to try for getting referrals, from sending free movie tickets to introducing referral and non-referral prices to new clients. Research what works best for your business, try it and stay positive!

Bonus: think outside the box. You can find new clients virtually anywhere. Approach your friends, former clients, past colleagues, hairdressers (they know all the secrets!), gym buddies.

Remember, a personal approach is always best as people relate to people.

Sarah Bendetsky, BAS&MORE bookkeeping & virtual CFO services

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