Have you considered asking your clients for referrals, but never got round to actioning it? You might think that you don’t need a referrals scheme at all… Think again. Without a structured programme in place to actively win more business through client referrals, you are potentially missing out on the holy grail of sales: high-quality, pre-qualified and easy to convert leads that come to you. Research by Nielsen showed that 92% of customers are more likely to believe recommendations that they get from family and friends over any other type of advertising.
Why should you be asking your clients for referrals?
Here are six clear indicators that you need to get on it, fast:
1. Your Competitors are Jumping Into Your Space
Noticed that your competitors are starting to snatch business out from under your nose? The chances are they have already implemented a referral programme and are working hard to embed it in their sales strategy. If this is the case, they are incentivising their sales staff and reaping the rewards. As a result, you could find yourself getting left behind unless you actively get out there and start engaging with your customers now.
2. Your Clients Aren’t Sharing Good Feedback More Widely
If your clients are telling you that they love your service, but are failing to share the message more broadly, then you need to give them the tools, information and resources that they need to talk about your brand with their friends and family. Carefully considered incentives can encourage them to take the next step towards recommending you to people who trust their opinion. An online community for referrers is a popular choice for many businesses today.
3. You Aren’t Entirely Sure What Referral Marketing Is
Don’t worry if this is the case, you’re not alone. Different studies have suggested that only around half of businesses are using any kind of ‘refer a friend’ programme. This leaves enormous scope to get referrals right, and to benefit from them. Referral marketing needn’t be overly complex and there are plenty of simple, low cost and easy to administer approaches to begin with. They will rapidly start to prove themselves and give you the appetite to ramp up referral activity.
4. Your Brand Isn’t as Embedded as it Could Be
If research suggests that your brand isn’t as visible or engaging as you expected it to be and you’re not getting many inbound leads, alarm bells should be ringing. Again, this could be time to consider a referral scheme. Many businesses see a jump in new client acquisitions by 10 – 30% when they begin to successfully funnel in referrals from existing happy customers.
Remember, those clients will need tools and information to share your brand credentials and to turn them into word of mouth referrals. Equally, you don’t have to give away big discounts or costly incentives in order to encourage those referrals. Different people will find different things meaningful. Very often simply being part of the conversation and in a position to influence your brand’s development is incentive enough.
5. You Already Have an Affiliate Scheme
Affiliate schemes can be powerful in the drive to build a client base. However, those existing clients who have a connection with your brand are likely to be more powerful in terms of results. Affiliates are driven by monetary reward as a rule. Referrers are your happy customers who are sufficiently convinced to share your name with their network. This can be far ‘stickier’ in terms of impact, and the resulting referred customers are often more valuable to your bottom line, becoming active in referring themselves over their lifetime. It makes sense to consider both an affiliate and a referral marketing scheme. These should be developed in partnership with the sales and marketing teams to ensure that your business reaps maximum benefits.
6. You’re Looking to Improve Your Sales Channel ROI
Referral marketing is one channel that actually needn’t be expensive, especially when compared to most sales and marketing activities. Even more importantly, the trust level is higher, which leads to greater conversion rates. This means that referral marketing can rapidly outperform your other, more expensive channels, such as print, out of house, events, paid search and advertising.
Ultimately, the question isn’t whether you can afford to do referral marketing, it’s whether your business can afford not to. Hopefully this has convinced you that you should be asking your clients for referrals.
For more on asking your clients for referrals, check out the Sales Director’s Guide to Winning Referrals and start generating new business from client referrals!