How to Ask for (and Receive) Referrals
Mastering customer retention is key to the health of your business, but new customer acquisition is a big piece of that puzzle, too. Your colleagues in sales are hard at work prospecting to generate new business, but you have an opportunity to do that too -- by asking for customer referrals.
According to the Wharton School of Business, a referred customer costs a lot less to acquire and has a higher potential for retention and loyalty. In fact, a referred customer has a 16% higher lifetime value than a non-referred customer. What's more, these customers are free to acquire for your business -- a win-win.
But how do you go about breaking the ice with your customers to ask them for help? How do you encourage them to mine their network to help you without being pushy or awkward? Fear not -- in this blog post, you'll learn how to identify potential referral opportunities by asking for customer feedback, and how to ask for those referrals once you've identified good candidates.
How to Use Customer Feedback to Identify Referral Opportunities
1. Identify your advocates
Identifying potential customer advocates can seem like a huge challenge, but using a simple Net Promoter Score® (NPS) survey can help make the process a little easier. Using an NPS survey can help you pinpoint potential advocates and turn this customer feedback channel into a referral growth engine.
NPS is a customer loyalty metric utilized across multiple industries to measure how happy a customer is with your product or service. NPS is determined by sending out a single-question survey to your customers that asks: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?
Respondents are asked to score their answer based on a 1-10 scale. Responses of 7 or 8 are labeled as "Passive", and scores of 0 to 6 are considered "Detractors." If a customer responds with a score of 9-10, they're labeled "Promoters" of your business. This group is most likely to provide referrals.
2. Follow up with your promoters
Just sending out an NPS survey isn't enough. You need to follow up with potential advocates and keep the positive momentum rolling along. What's the use of seeing a set of data with people who selected 9 or 10 if you're not going to use it to your advantage?
You have to mobilize your promoters by engaging with them -- and your promoters are your advocates. They are the people who took the time to select an NPS response and raise their hands, saying, "I am willing to recommend you to my friends."
Once you have identified your promoters, you should formulate a plan to follow up and make it easy for them to refer your company or product to their professional network.
If you have an employee at your company who handles new business development or customer marketing, you can have them reach out personally and see if your promoter would be interested in referring you. The key here is to make it easy for your promoters to refer your services to their professional network. Referrals and recommendations from real customers will outperform any share button or social media campaign over the long-term.
3. Use promoter feedback for referrals and testimonials
People are more likely to trust your brand early on if they have social proof of your expertise, and testimonials and case studies are one of your most powerful assets. A great way to get testimonials for your company is simply by asking for customer feedback and turning that exact same feedback that you receive into a testimonial on your website.
There are two ways you can approach this: One is by analyzing all the comments you get from the NPS survey, and then personally emailing each respondent to ask for permission to use their comment as a testimonial. The second way would be to send out a short survey soliciting feedback from promoters.
Once you've identified these happy customers and they've indicated a willingness to speak on your company's behalf, it's time to actually ask them for a customer referral.
Medicare Advantage / AEP Updates:
14 Ways To Generate Medicare Leads
Lead Generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has shown interest in your product or service.
For starters, exceptional lead generation comes from a relentless willingness to experiment with several different tactics, and to combine these tactics across multiple channels.
It’s unlikely that you will find just one technique that will pave a path of success to your business. You will likely need to take advantage of multiple channels concurrently.
Broadly speaking, there are 2 categories of lead generation: Inbound and Outbound. We will review the differences between the 2 before discussing some lead generation techniques that may be right for you.
Read the full article that includes the Infographic below:
Section Links Include:
Medicare Advantage / AEP Updates:
Build a Customer Referral Program With These 5 Tips
This is a great summary from a recent Hubspot article on how to create an effective customer referral program. 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a recommendation, and customers who were referred by loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate. (Deloitte)
Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, especially when considering a first time buy or something relatively expensive. (McKinsey)
But what does all of this mean for you? Well, although purchasing decisions for your product or service are as complex as ever, a leading factor in your prospect's decision-making process is advocacy from their trusted sources. The question is, are you harnessing the power of your brand advocates to get these quality referrals?
There are a few quick steps you can take to building a customer referral program so you can start reaping the benefits of referral leads that, on average, are 4-10x more valuable than regular leads, resulting in shorter sales cycles, increased win rates, and larger order sizes (Influitive).
1. Find Your Advocates
Advocates, by definition, are consumers and business buyers who frequently recommend brands and products without being paid to do so (Zuberance). Those advocates should be highly trusted by your brand and/or have a substantial amount of influence over the market that you're selling to. But where do you actually get them?
2. Set a Goal
It's important to set goals for your program, even if it's brand new and you have no historical data to base it off of. A useful factor to consider could be the amount of referrals your business is getting organically. You might figure out this number by reviewing sales notes or talking to your marketing team to see how often someone mentions a referral or that they've been referred. Referrals might even be happening outside of the business all together, such as customers talking to prospects over coffee or through social media messages. If this number is non-existent or too difficult to figure out, set a relatively reasonable goal based on how many advocates you're planning to engage in the program and a conversion rate around 10% (Friendbuy).
3. Choose the Right Incentive(s)
It's common knowledge that trying to buy your brand advocates is bad news for your business. Paying advocates to promote your brand can get pricey and extremely inefficient in the long run. On top of the price tag and it's inefficiency, there's minimal trust in a paid to perform relationship where trust should really be a key factor. Instead, consider rewarding your advocates for their organic promotion of your brand.
4. Find Your Promotional Mediums
Now that you've got your advocates, your goals and your incentives all set up, it's time to decide where and how you're going to promote your program. Just like advocates are found in many different locations, so should your customer referral program. An email campaign is a great start but unless you're constantly reminding your customers (in a way that doesn't annoy them enough to stop opening your emails), then you're going to have to find a few more places to stay top of mind. Get creative and find out where your customers spend the most time or even pages they frequent for short periods of time.
5. Keep Your Tech in Check
The tech behind your program is easily overlooked or taken for granted, but it's going to make or break how you approach and manage referrals. Some key information and metrics that you should easily be able to keep track of include:
Building a customer referral program can be time consuming but if done well, the benefits are likely to far outweigh the costs. Just don't be afraid to try something new. Take charge and harness the power of your advocate community, today.
8 Simple Ways to Get More (and Better) Client Referrals
I know some people who hate asking for referrals from their clients for fear of disturbing them or asking for “too much.” I understand the mentality, but I believe it is wrong.
When you get your clients to promote your agency in a simple and uncompromising way, it’s doing them a favor. Why? Referrals are what we might call social currency. We all like to recommend companies and quality products because it is a way to help each other.
Unfortunately, many insurance agents never properly prepare and train on how to request referrals in an effective and convenient way for both parties. This can lead to interactions like the following:
Agent: “If you are satisfied, could you maybe give me the names of three people who could also benefit from my excellent service?”
Customer: [uncomfortable pause] “Oh ... um ... well ... I guess you could call my ... I really don’t have phone numbers with me now ...”
Agent: “Sorry, but can you think a little harder about a few people before we end our meeting?”
I do not want your clients to lose the opportunity to make referrals, but at the same time, you shouldn’t have awkward conversations.
Here are eight ideas for generating great referrals:
“I am helping my clients increase their social status by facilitating the recommendation of an agency that is easy to work with, cares about clients and can save money for their friends.”
If you do not convince yourself of this, your problem may be more complex than simply needing referrals.
» It will be easy to explain and replicate for your clients.
» You are less likely to have an unwanted referral.
» You can develop promotional material for your products (brochures, etc.).
» Your clients will have an extra motivation to refer you and will be more willing to do so.
Explain to your client the benefits of having their family members know your contact information in case of an emergency. This can even be done as early as the first sale.
To the client, it will appear that you will be available to them at all times. For example, if you sell a policy to the mother of the family and she experiences an emergency, it’s important for other family members to have your contact info.
In the blank space, write the name of your client and give it to them to pass to their contacts.
Eliminate that risk by explaining the types of clients you serve and what you can offer them.
Be careful about describing your clients with a profile different from theirs, as it will make them doubt if they are with the right agency.
Here are two exercises that illustrate my point.
Exercise 1 — Ask your client: Excluding your co-workers or family, think of someone you know who would be happy to make sure their loved ones are protected, or to have a financial plan for their retirement. Take time until you have thought of someone.
Exercise 2 — Now think of a neighbor who would be happy to have those same services. The first question is more difficult to answer because the client will not know whom to refer.
The second question has fewer options, and I bet you yourself imagined your neighbor thanking you for helping them.
The point is, when you ask for referrals from your clients, ask them to think about a specific group of people from which it is easier to choose.
This block of text is a good place to request referrals, because your client will be reading the email and can forward the information to their contacts.
Use “Fwd my contact information” as your action message to remind the reader how to recommend you and above all, invite them to do so.
This accomplishes many things. It shows how much you appreciate their confidence in you. This will increase your chances of getting more contacts, and your social media followers will be able to see this.
It also reinforces to your existing clients that other people are so happy with your services that they are inviting their friends to get to know you. This social test will improve customer perception and retention.
This means that you can send a casual message to the person you’re connected by to request to be introduced.
Obviously, a lot depends on your relationship with that third person, but you never know what you can achieve by trying. Now it is my turn …
If any of the ideas presented in this article are useful and you know someone who might appreciate it, please share it.
You will be helping two people with a minimum of effort. Happy hunting.
Not every prospect is ready to jump in and do business with us right away. That’s why it’s so important for salespeople to remain professionally persistent with new prospects. Sales deals require multiple touches to close, so reps who give up after just one or two communications won’t see success.
But salespeople must be careful to balance their perseverance with good judgment, especially when referrals are involved. Here are seven critical things to remember when selling to referrals.
7 Strategies to Make Referral Prospecting Incredibly Effective
1) Always be respectful.
Remember – These prospects have been referred or, better yet, introduced to you, so you must treat them like royalty. It’s not just your reputation on the line. Your referral source’s relationship with this prospect might also suffer if you act unprofessionally, and that’s a poor way to repay somebody who’s helped you out.
2) Leverage your relationship.
Use the information you learned about this prospect from your referral source to present and maintain a more compelling reason for them to move forward with you. When you tie your prospecting efforts to what’s most important to them at the time, you’re more likely to spark and maintain their interest.
3) Present yourself as an extra set of hands.
When approaching new prospects, present yourself as an “additional resource.” Avoid the appearance that you’re trying to replace any current relationships and your prospects will be more receptive to you. Even if they’re not happy with their current vendor, they may be stuck in inertia and not receptive to change. Coming in as an additional resource will be easier for them to consider.
4) Keep your referral source in the loop.
Your referral source can assist you in determining how persistent you should be with their friend or colleague. If you have trouble reaching your prospect or they seem unresponsive, let your referral source know. They will advise you how to proceed without hurting any relationships and will appreciate you considering their perspective.
5) Formulate an outreach plan.
Have at least five to seven touch points pre-planned for your prospecting efforts. You need to be flexible to be successful in sales, but it’s better to start with a plan than to make it up as you go.
Most salespeople give up after two or three attempts, even though study after study demonstrates that it usually takes five to seven contacts to bring your prospect to a decision. The best way to ensure your outreach sequence follows a logical progression is to plan it first.
6) Provide value in every touch.
In each touch point, provide some additional value. Compile a series of articles, videos, or links to other related resources that build on each other in a logical progression. You can include one of these resources each time you reach out to your prospect. By including information from sources other than yourself, you demonstrate that the value of knowing you goes beyond just your own expertise.
7) Go for the “no.”
If your prospect keeps putting you off after repeated (appropriately-timed, so you don't appear aggressive or needy) attempts to connect, it could be time to go for the no. Here’s an example of how I might approach a referral who wasn’t responsive:
Bob – I appreciate your willingness to continue to explore how I might become an additional resource for you. I get the feeling that perhaps you don’t see the fit and you’re too nice a guy to just say ‘no’ to me. Would you prefer that I stop contacting you at this time?
You should adjust this wording to fit your style, but you get the idea.
When you go for the no, one of two things usually happens.
You learn more information that allows you to adjust your approach and keep the courtship alive.
You are able to release this prospect and spend your time and energy with other clients and prospects.
Don’t wing it when it comes to being appropriately persistent with qualified prospects. And don’t give up too early. Have a plan, work the plan, and be flexible as you learn more information about the prospect along the way.
It’s no secret that as a business you need to stay top-of-mind with your clients so that they can give you that sweet repeat business and even sweeter referral business — truly the gift that keeps on giving. Being excellent at what you do helps you attract new clients, but there’s a lot that you can and should be doing to set yourself up for referrals. Getting the ask or the timing wrong can mean losing your chance, so having a plan is essential.
Most business owners realize that referrals are critical to their bottom line. Adweek.com shared a survey that found that for B2B brands, referrals converted two times better than websites or social media. A Nielsen study found that 92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising — an increase of 18 percent since 2007.
It’s no wonder experts say that referrals can be more beneficial to your success than advertising. Easier said than done, you say? We get it. We’ve all been there. You ask a client for referrals only to get an empty promise to follow up, or even a straight-up no. But know this: you are in control of the process and results of your referral ask.
Before you can ask for referrals, you must realize how important referrals are to your business, then commit to prioritizing them. Put the work in so that you can maximize your results; you’ll be glad you did.
Referrals don’t just happen.
Asking customers for referrals must become part of your routine. It must be a consistent business practice that becomes a natural part of your daily work. But before you make your first referral ask, you need to develop a strategy.
Author, trainer and former financial adviser Frank Maselli says many people use archaic techniques or just awkwardly ask clients for names. Instead, Maselli recommends changing the conversation and reframing your ask so you don’t sound like you’re requesting a favor. David Finkel, author of “Scale: 7 Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back,” says when most businesses talk about referrals, they are referring to word-of-mouth referrals, or what he calls “passive referrals.” Instead, Finkel recommends an active referral strategy.
Before you get started, take a look at a few of the popular resources we’ve created for what to do (and not do) when asking for referrals:
The first step in developing your strategy is to decide which type of referrals are best for your business by assessing what has and hasn’t worked for you and similar businesses in the past. There are three types of referrals:
Keep in mind that word-of-mouth referrals are great, but for many industries, the power of an online referral can be more visual and permanent. Remember that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
You will, of course, need to customize your strategy to your business’ specific requirements, but it’s helpful to begin with some best business practices in mind. Joanne Black, author of “Pick Up the Damn Phone,” offers the following advice:
Timing is key.
There are no absolutes when it comes to timing except this one thing: your customer must be completely satisfied with your services or product. There are no referrals without happy customers. Asking an unhappy customer for a referral isn’t just a waste of time — it could further damage your reputation with them and their networks.
Getting the timing right can be tricky. Asking too early can make a bad impression, and asking too late can mean your request gets ignored. Experts say that the right time to ask for referrals varies by industry. The Small Business Administration advises business owners to: “Ask for referrals at a time when the customer is in a mood to give them.” While that’s true, it varies a bit from customer to customer. You want to be sure your customer is in a good mood, so catch them at a point when they’re satisfied with your service and are not in the throes of buyer’s remorse.
Ray Sliverstein calls referrals “the number-one tool in your tool kit. “Get in the habit of reaching for it often–say, as often as you might glance at your watch.” Silverstein advises businesses to follow up after the transaction with a thank you and a question: “Do you know anyone else who can benefit from my services?” Silverstein also recommends that when you begin working with a new customer, bring up referrals early. You could mention that you have a profile on Yelp, for example, or give the customer a few extra business cards to give to friends who might need your help.
In his Inc.com article, Finkel suggests creating referral systems, including a script that requests referrals at the point of purchase; as soon as the customer makes the purchase, thank them for their business and ask for the names of two people who would also benefit from their service. Another of his ideas is a “gift for your friend” campaign that uses gift certificates for the customer’s friends after the transaction is complete.
Referral strategies vary, but an analysis of the advice experts give shows that the best time to ask for referrals is immediately after your successful transaction with them is complete.
For a real estate agent, this could mean getting permission from your client for a Facebook post of a congratulatory photo of you at closing on your new dream home. This way, all of the client’s friends and their friends see your success, and those who need your service can easily find you.
For more transactional businesses, like HVAC repair, plumbers, salons, spas, etc., offering a small discount for a quick Yelp or Google review before a customer pays would be an easy way to get the word out to people who are searching for your service — and reputation — online.
Obtain a referral in 3 easy steps.
Here is how the experts say you get it done, step-by-step:
Step 1: Do your homework. Determine what has worked for your business and others like yours. You could ask your client for referrals before or after you complete your work. You could send an email immediately after your transaction including an easy way to post a review on a social media site or other website.
Step 2: Deliver exceptional service, ensuring that your customer is happy — so happy that they will share their love for you with their friends.
Step 3: The moment a customer compliments you, accept the compliment and thank them, then make your referral ask. Be polite and direct. Make it easy for them, and thank them for their business — and referrals.
Bringing it all together, it’s important to remember a few things about referrals. First, you are the driving force behind your own success. Do good work and be specific about what you want from your clients. Second, time your ask appropriately. Make sure that your job really is done. And lastly, make it a habit. The more you do it, the more natural this process will be in the future.
Every successful advisor has one thing in common that continue to keep their business growing. They ensure to keep a healthy stream of leads flowing into their pipeline. How do they do keep the influx of leads coming in? Is it a “secret” they keep safely guarded? Below are great lead generation tips successful advisors use to stay on top of their game.
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Question: What steps have you taken to build your sales lead? How has it changed your business?
Every business loves to get referrals. Whether they are by word of mouth, email campaigns, an online request form or simply a call, many businesses are unable to convert those referrals to clients despite having an effective marketing plan.
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How does your business referral process fare? Are there areas that may need improvements?