This week we revisit "How are you building your referral tree?"
Do you receive and welcome referrals? Many have shared they struggle to ask for referrals or do not get many referrals. Others have shared they built their business on referrals.
Here are some things to try that may help increase referrals. I would encourage you to comment and share your experiences that work for you or did not work so we can all learn from it.
Simply asking a non-intrusive question is a good way to practice asking for referrals, however, the relationship should be established before you do so. An example of this can be "Is there anyone you know that could use our services?" If they answer yes, then the next question is "Can you introduce them to me?" With e-mail introductions or LinkedIn introductions this becomes a simple task.
If the person says they do not know anyone just accept it. If the person provides you a name ask if you can use their name. Please do not call on someone and say so-and-so gave me your name if you do not have permission. Read that last sentence again as it is critical in relationship building with your referral tree.
When you attend a networking event, ask people you know if they can introduce you to others they know in the room. Remember, no active selling or promoting your products/services. There is a time and place for that. Be genuine with the introduction, ask for their story and ask if they are interested in your story. Exchange business cards.
A golden rule for building your referral tree: always, always say thank you to the person who sent you the referral or made the introduction. Send them a note to say thank you, either e-mail or actually mail a thank you note. It is not necessary to send a gift card. Yes there are some circumstances where this applies.
Another good golden rule is to update the referral person. Even if the opportunity does not pan out or if you lose the opportunity to a competitor, remember to update the referral person and to say thank you. No sour grapes.
There are no bad referrals. At the very least, you made a new connection, introduced yourself, told your story and introduced your company. Sometimes they will surprise you and even refer you! Sometimes they will call you in the future and consider your services again.
Water and nurture your referral tree and watch it grow. What inspired this week to look at this topic again, is a company we refer a lot of business decided to stop watering us. Bad decision was made by this individual and I decided to give them a second chance. You guessed it - they threw out the watering can. One day in the near future they will ask why we stopped referring them. They will never know or understand the reason which I already shared with them twice. I guess their competitors will reap the rewards from our referrals!
Referrals is about building relationships and keeping the communication open and positive, working out the gaps and differences. Relationships take time, trust and work. When you have this in place, you can watch your referral tree bloom bigger and better each and every day.
How are you watering your referral tree?