When it comes to your helping your business grow, it all boils down to who you know. And all that could be standing between your business succeeding or failing is your personal network. We’re talking about your professional network and the referrals which are the backbone of any productive small business sales force. Think of referrals as a chain between you and making a sale. The immediate referral might not be buying but that doesn’t mean it can’t lead to a referral that is in the market for what you’re selling. To increase sales you’ll need to increase referrals. Here’s how to accomplish that goal:
Ask and You Can Receive
Every satisfied customer you create is a new referral. Now you’ve got to “activate” that referral. Let that happy customer know you would appreciate their help with getting the word out about your business. Don’t assume everyone is talking about your company. Give them a little nudge and you might just be surprised with the results. You can take it a step further by asking directly for a contact of a friend or family member of that customer who would benefit from what you’re offering. The only shame would be in not asking.
Give and Take
You can get new referrals for your small business by sharing your referrals. This works best in a B2B market but it really amounts to you being proactive about expanding your customer base. If you have a supplier who is selling you a particular product for your business then you can spread the word of his company while he spreads the word of yours. Quid pro quo.
Two magic words that get everybody’s attention: finder’s fee. This is a very common practice all across the business world. When someone gives you a referral that buys from you, your referrer is rewarded in some fashion. Local cable and telephone companies use this practice. Sign up a friend and you’ll get a discount. How can you apply that to your business?
Offer Your Referrals First
Somebody has to “break the ice.” That could be you when you offer a referral to a customer or business associate for an item outside of your own company. This could get the ball rolling for a referral exchange.
Spread Your Name
If you have a storefront business then you should make sure every customer walks out with something that has your business name on it. Whether that’s a shopping bag, pen, coaster or magnet you’re spreading the name of your company. How can you do the same thing for an online business? If you post a fun video or photo make sure your web address is embedded on the image. Where ever that graphic goes is where your company name will go. You could hold a contest for the cutest puppy photo. It might have nothing to do with your business but those photos will be shared everywhere. Think outside of the box.