How To Get More Referrals For Your Business

How do I get more referrals for my business?  This was the question I received just a few hours ago via a Klout member seeking advice.  Thinking about my current business and the fact that 75% of my new business comes from referrals I created an outline of what I have been doing.

  1. Start with GREAT customer service.  This should be no surprise to any business owner seeking more I love referralsreferrals.  Now more than ever great customer service is truly unique.  And customers who receive great service can quickly become your best referral source and advocate.  A good start to improving customer service is to think about the last great customer service experience you received and how you can adapt this experience into your business.
  2. The best referrals come from YOUR customers.  Now that you are taking a fresh look on customer service and implementing better customer service strategies you should start noticing something different about your customers.  The most obvious should be happy customers.  This may sound a big cliché but happy customers to equal more referrals.  It’s really that simple.
  3.  Ask your customers for the referral!  Some customers will automatically become raving fans for you and your business.  You don’t have to ask or offer them anything for this to happen as they want you to succeed.  This will only occur with a few of your customers and when it does make sure you acknowledge and encourage it.  With the other 90% or more of your customers you will have to ask for the referral.  To get things started make sure you have a conversation with your customers about referrals and let them know most of julietta casino online your business comes from customers just like them referring you to their friends and family.  Education is the key as this 90% group do not think about giving you referrals if you don’t tell them.
  4. Create your own referral network.  There are many organizations which can greatly help you; Business Network International is an obvious one here.  Joining this organization will put you leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors in regards to referrals.  You can also build your own network of referral partners by finding business with the same customers you are looking for.  Meet with these businesses and identify how you can send them referrals.  Once you do this and start sending referrals let the business know.  Do this a few times and you should start receiving referrals from them as well.
  5. Remember to say Thank You!  I cannot express and encourage this enough.  Saying thank you is the most important part of the referral process.  With each referral you want to thank and acknowledge the source of the referral.  As your referral source matures and gives you more referrals you want to escalate your appreciation.  You can do this in many ways and I encourage you to get creative.

Getting more referrals for your business should not be difficult or painful.  Follow these steps and you should start seeing positive results in your referral marketing efforts.  Do you have some great ideas on the subject of referrals?  Make sure to leave a comment and tell us about it!  And if you get positive results using these steps let us know!

Shocking Sales Statistics as It Relates to Follow Up

Truly shocking sales statistics as it relates to your  follow up process:

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people make more than three contacts

2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Creating and using a follow up system is a guaranteed way to grow your business.  In fact with less than 52% of all sales people following up with their prospects you will not only grow your business but you will stand out amongst your peers.  And remember 80% of sales are made in the fifth to twelfth contact if you are in a market with heavy competition you literally eliminate your competitors by simply following up.

To learn more about creating a follow up system make sure you to read Creating a Follow Up Strategy where I discuss follow up strategies for existing customers.

Attracting New Customers and Increasing Your Referrals this Year!

Christmas, Hanukkah, and the Seasonal Parties are starting to become fond memories for most of us.  Many businesses are focused on the New Year and thinking about what to do different.  New Year Resolutions have come up in almost every conversation I have had this week with businesses owners.

moneytreeEverything from growing the business, increasing referrals, getting more involved with the community, attending more networking events, creating more systems, increasing marketing, adding more staff, and list goes on and on.  The greatest thing about all these conversations is how many businesses seem to really be thinking about what they can do different.  How they can really improve and grow their business this year.

For my businesses focus seems to be at the top of my list.  Really identifying where I need to spend my time and making sure I hold myself accountable to where my time is spent is number one for me!  I have really thought about what my highest income producing activities are for each of my businesses and where I want these businesses to go this year.  By doing this exercise I have now identified actionable items and activities which I should do each day to achieve these goals.  I am now in the process of listing these activities and creating daily, weekly, and monthly goals for each one.

Once this is complete I will have this document in front of me each day.  It will work like a check list insuring I am doing the action items and activities on a consistent basis which will lead to my desired results.

My questions for you are what are you thinking about this week?  What are you changing in your business to insure a great 2010?  Are you willing to take the steps necessary for your success?  Are you going to attend one more networking event each month this year?  Are you going to join BNI, LeTip, or you local Chamber of Commerce?  Are you going to learn more about Social Media and how to use Social Media in your business?  Are you going to follow up with every lead you receive?  Are you going to follow up with every person you meet?  Are you going to thank the customers that buy from you each month?  Are you going to create more meaningful relationships this year?

Take a moment and share with us what you are going to do to insure your success in 2010 by joining the conversation and leaving a comment!

Sending Holiday Cards to Your Customers is a Waste of Time!

Did I get your attention?  You only have a few days left to get this task done.  Are you are one of the many business owners or sales professionals who still have this task on your list?  You may even have a stack of holiday cards sitting on your desk ready to go.  But at some point in the past month or most likely many times you decided to put it off, wait until tomorrow, or maybe take care of writing and sending your holiday greeting cards over one of the past weekends.

And now you find yourself exactly where you don’t want to be, 15 days before the big holiday, no holiday greeting Holiday-cards-assortmentcards in the mail.  You have a decision to make…  Do you stop everything and send those holiday cards out or do you just forget about it?

The answer? STOP EVERYTHING AND GET IT DONE NOW! This may seem a bit crazy or even bias because you know I am a big SendOutCards user and often promote using SendOutCards on Follow Up Success.  Card sending is an important step in your follow up process and holiday card sending is almost at the top.

Here are my top three reasons why you should stop everything and send out your holiday greeting cards now:

  1. Appreciating your customers and prospects – Every single one of your customers enjoys being appreciated and the holidays is a great time to say thank you for the past business you have received.  Prospects can easily be turned into customers by simply saying thank you for learning more about you and your business while wishing for them a great holiday with family and friends.
  2. Reestablishing the business relationship – One of my goals for 2010 is to create stronger relationships with my customers and prospects.  By sending holiday cards I will reestablish past relationships that I may have let slip through the cracks.  This is important when you reach out to past customers or prospects in the New Year as you will have recent contact.
  3. Top of Mind Awareness – This is the big one!  Creating top of mind awareness with your customers and prospects when they are surrounded by their closest friends and family is an essential step in your follow up and referral strategy.  If you are top of mind with your customer or prospect they are more likely to bring you and your business up in conversation or think about you for a potential referral.

Hopefully I have encouraged you to take action!  Maybe, you have already picked up that box of holiday cards from your desk or floor and have starting filling them out.  Possibly, you have too many cards to send and feel hopeless!  If you are feeling hopeless SendOutCards would be the best gift to give yourself this holiday season!  With my help within a few hours you can have all of your holiday cards in the mail each personalized with your message.  To learn more about SendOutCards or to set up your account visit my Follow Up Tools page or contact me.  I am more than happy to help you through this process!

Whether you use SendOutCards, go buy cards from the store, or use the cards you already have, just get it done!  Stop everything and do this now!  I promise you it’s worth the time.

Do you have great business success stories from sending cards?  Please tell us all about it by leaving a comment!

Send Thanksgiving Cards to Follow Up With Your Clients!

There are many reasons to send greeting cards to your customers. General follow up thank you cards, birthday cards, customer appreciation cards, and of course holiday cards. All of these customer follow up greeting cards should be a standard marketing practice for any business.

thanksgiving-greeting-cardOne of my favorite opportunities to reach out to existing customers and create stronger relationships is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving after all is all about gratitude and what better way to show gratitude to your customers than by sending them a Thanksgiving card and letting them know how much you appreciate their business?

I truly believe in sending Thanksgiving cards to follow up with your customers and prospects. In fact I have recent memories of handwriting over 500 Thanksgiving cards to my clients not too long ago. This was a huge and exhausting task with each card containing two or three lines of personalized text. I spent well over two months completing this process! And while I was all gung-ho to send out holiday greeting cards to my clients as well… It was just not going to happen. I had all the holiday cards on my desk but could not get them completed in the two remaining weeks I had left. At the time I remember thinking there must be a better to get this done… Of course there is a better way and I discovered it about six months later. The next time I mailed Thanksgiving cards to my clients I sent 600 and did them all in about four hours instead of two months! I used an incredible system called SendOutCards and you can learn more about this process by visiting my Follow Up Tools page.

There are many reasons to send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients, prospects, and referral sources. The main one being appreciation. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated and when you do this your clients will do more business with you, prospects will start doing business with you, and your referral sources will send you even more referrals.

Now is the time! Start following up with your customers and prospects today with Thanksgiving cards!

Creating Great Follow Up With Your Clients in 7 Simple Steps

Today I was listening to a great podcast by Dr. Ivan Misner the founder of BNI on Networking Now about following up with your clients and creating touch points. Dr. Misner offered 6 steps in creating touch points with your prospects and customers. After listening to the pod cast I ended up with seven steps!

Step One – Spread out your contacts! Many people do great follow up in the first few months of making the sale and then the follow up seems to drop off. Maintaining consistent follow up or touch points through phone conversations, live appointments, email, newsletters, and greeting cards should be the goal.

Step Two – Train your clients to expect to hear from you. Be consistent! If it makes since for your business or product to meet with them once per quarter than make sure you always meet with them once per quarter. Your clients will begin to plan on hearing from you and will make time to see you.

Step Three – Make each contact lead to the next contact. Let your customer know when they will hear from you again. If you are meeting every quarter, ideally you would schedule the next quarterly meeting before leaving. If you need to follow up with additional information make sure to let them know when they can expect from you.

Step Four – Assume responsibility to make contact. As the sales person or business owner it is your responsibility to maintain the relationship. Remember customers who don’t feel appreciated or feel they are not being taken care of will naturally start looking for someone else. Keeping consistent contact and taking responsibility for the relationship will help your to maintain your customers for life!

Step Five – Invite customers to networking events. If you have found a great networking event make sure to invite a few of your customers for the next one. Invite them to your BNI group or a local chamber of commerce. If you are in Rotary or Kiwanis invite them to your next meeting. Seeing your customers every week or every month at a service organization or networking event will help you create a stronger relationship. Not to mention if you have found new clients at these groups your customers may as well.

Step Six – Create a plan and stick to it. If you are consistently following up with your customers your customers will naturally start contacting you. The key is to not break your consistency. When your clients contact your don’t restart the clock or change your pattern. Stay on your same touch point schedule and this will just encourage more interaction.

Step Seven – Once you have your plan implement a system to make this easy. For each element of your follow up or touch points do whatever you can to put this into a system. Systems mean automatic! Automatically your news letter will go out every month. Automatically your outlook calendar or salesforce.com reminder will pop up. By having a system you guarantee consistency in your actions.

It’s important to remember following up with prospects is a must but having consistent follow up or touch points with your customers is equally as important. The goal for this follow up or touch point system is not to sell. The goal is to create conversations. The conversation might be:

  • How can I help you?
  • Are you satisfied with our product or service?
  • I was thinking about your business today and thought of a few additional ideas for you.
  • How can I make this service work better for you?

Through conversations you will create stronger relationships. Through these relationships you will receive more businesses and the best part is you will receive referrals!

Are you using a system now? Please leave a comment and tell us what are you using in your business for follow up and touch points!

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Can I Give You A Referral?

On my last post I highlighted Make A Referral Week 2009. The goal was to generate 1,000 referrals to 1,000 deserving small businesses in one week. I am happy to report the goal was met and I am excited to see Referral Week happen again with a much larger goal!

This week I had the pleasure of talking to one of my favorite people Stuart Manley from ChannelPoint, Inc., a Toronto, ON human resource company specializing in cross border HR. After talking to Stuart I thought of another friend Art Kriegsmann. Art is the CEO of H.R. SERV., Inc. based in San Diego, CA. The conversation with Stuart prompted me to refer both Stuart and Art to each other. I referred them because they both specialize in different areas and could possibly be a great referral source for one another.

The example points out one of the most overlooked referrals we can make. We all love to receive direct referrals which will lead to a new client. Sometimes our best referrals are not a direct referral but someone who can continually give us referrals over time. Creating referral partners, power partners, or fantastic referral sources should be a major part of your referral strategy.

To create a referral source think about the businesses in your network who may serve your ideal client. Possibly a company you notice working with the same clients you have. Once you identify such a company or industry reach out to them and talk about the possibility of sending referrals to one another. This strategy could make the difference of your business maintaining sales this year or possibly growing another 10, 20, or 50 percent! And for those of you who may watch the news or if you happen to still read the paper… Yes I did say you can grow your business in this economy!

If you are still reading this post I have one question for you. Can I give you a referral?

Do you have a company or client you have been trying to reach? Do you know who your ideal client or referral partner is? How can I or the readers give you a referral? Leave your referral request as a comment and let’s see if we can help each other!

Referral Week 2009: Can Your Referral Make the Difference?

Make a Referral Week 2009 is March 9-13, can your referral make a difference?  We are all hearing the negative talk about our economy!   Many businesses, sales people, and entrepreneurs are complaining and contributing to the negativity.  But what if you can make a difference?  What if you made one referral today?  Could you inspire others to do the same?  Can this effort have a profound impact on your business as well as those in your business network?  The creators of Make a Referral Week seem to think so!

The goal for Referral Week 2009 is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses.  This seems pretty simple to me and I am hoping you will participate in this positive approach!  Here are some simple steps to help you create your referral:

Over the next few days think about the people in your business network.
Listen to the conversations with your customers. What are they looking for?  What do your clients need?
Simply match those customers and clients with someone in your businesses or referral network.
Visit the Make A Referral Week Counter Page and tell them who you referred!

For great referral strategies John Jantsh is hosting a live conference call on Tuesday March 10th featuring Bob Burg, author of the Go-Giver, Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now.  This should be a great call teaching the strategies of referrals.  Just check out Johns post Have Your Made Your Referral? to register for the call.

Will you participate?  Will you help one those people in your network and give them a referral?  Will your referral start a chain reaction of more referrals?  We all can make a difference in turning around this economy!  The question to ask yourself is are you willing to give one referral?

make a referral week

Networking Basics: Be on Time to Your Business Networking Group

Being on time is a very simple thing to do and yet it is very simple not to do.  Over the years I have been in many different types of networking groups for a variety of companies and projects.  There is something about the message being sent out by the members that are consistently arriving late or leaving early.  Business networking is very similar to dating in that first impressions make big difference.  If you are consistently late at a networking event it leads people to believe you may be late to all of your meetings.

Does being late really make a difference in your business networking success?  I know for me when I see this in a networking group like BNI, LeTip, or a weekly chamber of commerce group I am less likely to give the habitual late person a referral.  The reason is each referral is really an extension of me and my reputation.  If I refer my best client or referral source to a member who in turn is late meeting with my contact this reflects negatively on me.  My personal network is far more important to me than just giving someone a referral!

If you are habitually late and want to know simple ways to change your pattern read this great article, 5 ways to stop being late by Penelope Trunk.

So the next time you are getting ready for your business networking event or BNI meeting, maybe you should skip responding to that email which just showed up in your inbox and instead arrive 10 minutes early to your meeting (on time).

Of Course I have a Referral and Follow Up System!

A referral and follow up system…  You may be asking yourself what do I need that for?  I was reminded about a pretty well know fact after reading yesterdays post on Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch titled My Most Excellently Flawed Referral Survey.  The survey questions had to do with the percentage of your business coming from referrals or word of mouth.  Here is what John found:

69.3% felt over 50% of their business came by way of referral and yet, 79% further admitted they had no well-defined system to promote referral generation.  The conclusion is we know how important referrals are yet we don’t take the time to create a system to attract them!

John also asked if you are not getting a consistent flow of referrals why not?  20% of the participants of the survey just skipped this question!  Maybe after realizing so much business comes from referrals and acknowledging they have no system that thinking about why was just too much must for those in the survey to handle?

For years I have heard and seen similar numbers like this.  Business owners and top sales professionals say things like the live for referrals yet if I ask the simple question of what do you do when you receive a referral I more often than not get a blank stare.

Receiving more referrals is pretty simple and there are many ways to do this.

  • Simply asking your customers for referrals or people they know who can also use your product or service is a great place to start.
  • Making sure you acknowledge and reward the referral senders will naturally grow the amount of referrals you receive.  People will enjoy helping you and when you acknowledge and appreciate them and will in turn help you more.
  • Staying top of mind with your customers, prospects, and referral sources will generate more business and referrals for you.  You can do this by calling, emailing, sending greeting cards, and newsletters.  Staying top of mind is customers and prospects is about creating a relationship.

The best referral and follow up system I have seen and used for years is SendOutCards.  When used correctly you can create an explosion of referrals with very little effort.  The reason for this is SendOutCards is a great system and once set up can go on autopilot.  You can learn more about SendOutCards and how it might work for you by visiting this site.  Fill out the contact information and I will call and talk to you about it personally.

Whether you use index cards, Excel, Outlook, SendOutCards, Act!, Goldmine, Saleceforce.com, or any of the many other CRM tools on the market the important thing is you use one.  Commit to a system, spend the time to get it set up to work for your business, and then use it no matter what!  The benefits of using your referral and follow up system will outweigh any time or pain you might feel getting it started!

So tell me, what system do you have?  What are you doing to increase your referrals and follow up with your clients and prospects?