Companies that ask for referrals from their customers (and promptly thank them for those referrals) receive more than ten times the referrals of companies that do not ask for them. Warm referrals are statistically much more likely to close on a project than a cold lead so it is a no brainer to commit your team to asking for referrals.
When is the best time to “make the ask?” Let’s talk about it.
When to Ask
There are several points during your relationship with a current or former client when it is appropriate to request a referrals. During the project, particularly at a point when your client is happy with progress, you can provide them with an opportunity to refer their friends, ideal clients only please, to your company. How you do this is a personal choice, but our clients has a great way to show his clients’ projects off.
At the midway point of a project, he asks his customers if they want to invite some friends over to see the construction. He explains to the customers why they and their project are ideal for him, what kind of clients he likes to work for and suggests that they invite anyone looking to do a similar project over for a question and answer type get together.
He shows the clients’ friends and family what his company is doing, explains the process and sends them off with information on his company and the request to connect with him on social media. No sales pitch, no nonsense.
After that, he follows up and keeps in touch. It is a simple, informal way to meet more potential clients without taking a lot of time out to host an event of your own. I particularly like that my client offers this type of event only to ideal clients and only those whom he feels that will bring in ideal future prospects.
Another time to make a request of your customer is when you are complete and they are happy with the result. When you are certain that they are pleased with the work you have done, let them know why you enjoyed working for them and how you can help their friends, family and social circle with similar projects or other projects on your ideal services list. Whether you do this through a phone call, an email or a letter, take the time to leverage a happy customer at the point when they are most pleased with the project.
In an effort to stay top of mind with your clients, you can ask for referrals on an ongoing basis at specific times of year. One of our clients elected to use the “direct ask” method for the first time last year. He chose to contact certain segments of his client list at different times of year based on the type of projects that his company has completed for them.
He made eight different “asks” to his client list in 2013. In the spring, he sent an email out to half of the customers for whom he had replaced a roof asking if they knew of anyone who might be interested in getting their roof replaced after the long winter. He sent a similar email to the other half in the early fall asking if they knew anyone who might be interested in having their roof replaced before the winter. He segmented his list similarly for additions, bathrooms and kitchens and sent out timely referral requests to each list.
In one year, my client’s business has grown by over 250%. He has hired twenty new employees and moved his office out of his home. He has since begun a similar direct ask via social media that is growing his business even more.
For more on creating a referral program Download our “7 Steps to Creating a Referral System” one sheet for an easy start guide.