Are you unhappy that your customers and clients are not giving you the referrals and word of mouth recommendations that you would like?
Instead of blaming them, it is time to take action and come up with a few strategies to create referral opportunities.
If you sit back idly and hope that your customers are going to refer you so that you get new clients the easy way then I have bad news.
Some will you refer you but only when they are hit over the head with such a blatant opportunity.
"Do you know a good accountant?" say Michael
"Yes mine seems to be OK. You could try John at Smith, Jones & Co" replies Peter
It should create a lead although it is not the ringing endorsement you would want to make it easy to convert the referred lead.
Another potential conversation might not go as well.
"I'm not sure that my current accountant is up to the job. I keep on having to chase him and the tax advise seems very vague" says Michael.
"Yes it is difficult to know what they do isn't it when you only understand two out of every three words and the clock is always running so you know that every sentence is probably costing you a pound?" replies Peter.
The referral opportunity is lost.
John the accountant at Smith, Jones & Co hasn't trained his client Peter but there is a chance that the opportunity can be revived if some time soon, John asks Peter:
"I'm just calling to check on your accounting service? How are you finding it? Is everything coming through on time and are my staff polite and efficient?"
Peter replies "It's going well thanks. I am very pleased and the extra information and guidance your team are providing is giving me much more confidence that I'm managing my business for profit."
John replies "That's excellent to hear. I bet you know plenty of other small businesses don't you?"
Peter "Yes of course"
John "Do you think of any of them could benefit in the same way that you do? We are always looking for new quality clients and it is especially nice when happy clients refer them."
Peter "I can think of three people immediately who mentioned that they are not happy with their accountants. I can give you their details and put in a good word for you. Now that I think about it, I should have done before but it didn't occur to me."
John "That would be great Peter. I'd really appreciate it."
A few days later John rings Peter.
"Hi Peter, I am calling to say thank you. The five people you thought were unhappy with their accountant have all agreed to come to see me and two of them, Bob and Rose have already signed up as clients.
As a thank you, I'd love to treat you to lunch next week and it'll give you a chance to pick my brains about your new business expansion without the clock ticking."
Peter "That would be great. I'm free on Wednesday and Thursday for lunch. I've thought of a couple more people you might want to contact as well"
Final Thoughts On Referrals
Referrals and word of mouth recommendations are a huge opportunity for what I call hidden profits - the potential is already in your business but you are not tapping into it as effectively as you could do.
The important issues to remember are:
- Train your customers and clients to give you referrals. Be clear that you love to get referrals. Help them spot opportunities and know what to say.
- Deliver a great product and service - your clients need to be happy to give you positive word of mouth.
- Look for and create opportunities for your clients to express their satisfaction with how well your service is working. Even if you get to hear a complaint, it gives you the chance to fix the problem and to save the relationship.