Do you consistently use referrals to grow your business? Too many of us don’t and miss out on this opportunity for meeting new prospects. It’s an easy remedy to put the power of referrals into place in your selling process.

If you want to easily access more prospective buyers, use the power of reciprocity when asking for referrals from existing relationships and give your cheerleaders the opportunity to help you as you have helped them.

Reciprocity is defined as a “mutual exchange” – the give and take of life. In a slow economy it can be YOUR lifeline. In a good economy it is just smart selling! When we focus on what we give as well as get with referrals, we keep it from being one-sided and are more successful.

Of course it begins by giving great value to your customers as they will become your best referral sources.

Identify your current loyal customers. These are the customers who value what you do for them and trust you. They stick by you in hard times because they know you will do the right thing for them. They will also willingly tell others about you, if they have the chance.

3 Strategies: Give, Take, and Give

give-takeStrategy 1: Give your loyal customers the opportunity to share referrals with you. If they don’t know you are open to referrals or are able to take on more, they may not proactively offer. Just ask.

Adapt your approach to who you are asking and determine what they need from you to willingly provide referrals. For example:

I provided great sales results through our sales process and training to a loyal customer; and they valued these results and relationship, but this appreciation never led to referrals. In considering this person’s needs, I realized they might be concerned that by giving me a referral I would be less available to them!

To help ease this concern, I approached asking for the referral differently. First, I assured them how important their relationship was to me. Second, I shared that I had positioned my company for more growth with additional consultants and was now looking to secure work for those consultants. Finally, I asked who she might know that would benefit from the work we do in strengthening customer loyalties with training and process mapping.

She had two referral names for me within a week!

Strategy 2: Take time to help them help you! Answer two questions to make taking referrals easy:

  1. What type of person/company makes a good referral for you? Help your contact identify opportunities that will be good business for you. What companies are you best positioned to serve with your product/service?
  2. What is the value you provide? Explain the value in a sentence or less so your referrer can articulate it for you.

When the economy slowed a few years ago, I contacted our loyal customers to review updates and talk about how we might best serve them in the future. Only then did I ask, “As we look to the future of our business, we are positioned to help more people like you. Who else is in a position such as yours that might benefit from increasing sales 5-25% next year?”

Notice I didn’t give them the, “Who can you introduce me to?” Or, “I’d like the names of everyone in your address book.” I specified the value we could provide to make it easier for them to refer specific people/companies.

Over 80% of these loyal customers provided at least one referral.

Strategy 3: Give updates and reciprocate.

Close the communication and referral loop with updates. When someone provides you a referral, provide status updates. A quick message telling them you have initiated contact or you have a meeting closes that loop. A side benefit is that they might help you make the direct connection.

I couldn’t get in touch with a referral for months. When I followed up with the referrer, he said, “Hang on, I’ll conference us all together and get this done.” Wow, in a minute’s time I was on a call “meeting” this referral and scheduling an appointment!

Reciprocate their generosity. Give value back to the referrer. The value can be a referral, a note, information to help them with something, or a heartfelt THANK YOU.

That’s it. true success for seeking referrals is realized by consistently asking for referrals and then doing a great job with the ones you receive.

Relationships have always been the foundation to long-term successful business. Focusing on the give and take of asking for referrals shows you value your most loyal relationships, and gives you opportunities to build new ones.

Your Turn! How do you easily secure referrals?  Share your comments a and you’ll be entered in the drawing for a signed copy of Conversations That Sell.  Congratulations to Shah Rivzi – send me your address and I’ll send you the book for you contribution to the last newsletter discussion!