In business,  your customers and extended network are arguably the most important and effective sales tools you have at your disposal. They talk – their friends and colleagues listen!

You can spend your entire marketing budget on precisely targeted Facebook ads, compelling email campaigns, and you’d still never see the same results as you get when a loyal customer—a brand advocate—convinces a colleague or family member that your products are worth buying.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. You can have a fantastic team, a great range of products / services and an amazing business plan, but none of it matters if you can’t keep your customers and network happy, engaged, and willing to tell their friends about you. Your best source of new business is referrals from happy customers or your extended business network. You cannot receive a better lead than one that has been sent your way with a strong referral.

Personal referrals can be extremely valuable to your business. Consider recent statistics which state:

  • 92% trust referrals from people they know.
  • 84 % of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral.
  • 87% of sales reps, 82% of sales leaders, and 78% of marketers surveyed agree that referrals are the best leads your business can get.

With these numbers in mind, the question is, what can you as a business owner do to drive more customers and your network to spread the word about you?  

The challenge is: How do you get your satisfied customers to actively promote you to their social and professional networks?

The answer: You have to train them to do it, remind them constantly, and make it easy.

Here are the five basic steps to getting better referrals which all businesspeople should embrace.

  1. Constantly ask for referrals

Too many businesspeople forget to ask. The best time to do so? In the midst of delivering excellent service. It’s also important to ask regularly afterwards too. Always assume your clients would be happy to refer you. Let them tell you if they are uncomfortable doing so.

  1. Teach your customers how to refer you

This is the biggest improvement you can make in your referral campaigning. Many clients would be happy to refer you, but don’t know how to present you and your service to others. Ensure that you inform them

  • “What you do?”
  • “How you can help?”
  • “Why choose you?”
  1. Remind them to refer you

Talk to all current and past customers regularly, and always include a request for referrals. Referrals are the lifeblood to any business. This is a real motivator to your network as most people genuinely want to help you.

  1. Make it really easy

Help them figure out how to describe their experience. Many people struggle with potentially not saying the right things while talking to their peers.

Send them other customer reviews as examples.

Add links to your website pages for all the review sites on which you appear.

Put links to review sites in all your communications

  1. Say “thank you,” and do it often

Reward the referrer with continual gestures of thanks and recognition. In many businesses, this is limited to a verbal “thank you” and a handshake, where personal gifts may not be allowed.

Remember, most referrers are motivated to help you because you helped them, and in any case, they don’t seek a lot of reward for themselves. The best reward would be a referral back to them.

The reason BforB business networking works so successively is simple, all members are educated on each other’s businesses, and we remind ourselves regularly to be aware of generating potential referrals for other members. This embeds the “referral mindset” effectively.

 Generating referrals is not rocket science. It takes a bit of work, but it should be cemented as a personal mindset into every touchpoint that you have with your customer base and network. Asking for referrals must be second nature, just like breathing.

Make some positive changes in your referral marketing routine and watch the results!