Most professional service firms rely heavily on referrals to grow their business. Having a systematic process for requesting, giving, and following up on referrals is essential if you want to consistently receive quality referrals. When designed and used properly, your sales and marketing database can be your secret weapon for giving and receiving referrals. Here are five ways you can use your database to get more referrals:
- Achieve top of mind status – Have you ever had a coffee or lunch meeting with someone who you thought would be a good referral partner but the relationship never developed? When developing new referral relationships, it generally takes more contacts or “touches” early in the relationship to help you establish top of mind status. Use your database to record things you learned about your contact in your meeting (their needs, likes, contact preferences, etc.) and set up a reminder system to contact them 3 or 4 times in the first 30 days. Rather than calling to “check in”, use the information you recorded to provide them with helpful resources and connections.
- Stay top of mind – by having your system remind you to touch base with your contacts on a regular basis. The more relevant your stay in touch messages are, the more effective they will be, so use the information you have captured about their likes, interests, and preferences to deliver relevant and effective messages.
- Quickly identify people by expertise and relationship – One of the keys to building your business through referrals is to give referrals to others. Having a database that allows you to quickly identify and connect people in your network who will benefit from meeting one another will help you become the “go to” person people turn to when they are looking for help.
- Provide feedback on referrals you have received – if you want to improve the quality of the referrals you receive, it’s important to provide feedback to your referral sources. Set up your database to remind you to always provide feedback to your referral sources. Let them know why someone was a good referral and how you were able to help them. If they referred someone who was not a good fit, take responsibility for that by explaining that you haven’t done a good job of educating them about how to spot your ideal customer. Thank them for the referral and explain who it is you are best suited to help.
- Know and nurture your best referral sources – do you know where your most profitable customers come from? Many of us can name our top referral source, but may struggle to name the 4th or 5th best source. Focusing attention on those who already refer us is often more productive than looking for new sources.
photo credit: Nicola Corboy on Flickr