“Why you’re not getting more referrals and what you need to do about it”

Getting referrals or getting new customers from word of mouth is perhaps one of the oldest and most trusted means of acquiring new clients.  While every good business will get some spontaneous word of mouth referrals, using the right strategy and tactics significantly increase the number and quality of referrals your business will get.

Firstly let’s start by talking about why people don’t give referrals. It’s important to understand what it is that makes you referable, or why would somebody else tell another person about your business? If you stop to think about it, it’s a huge challenge to overcome.  The simple truth is, most don’t refer, and the reason they don’t refer is that they don’t care about you or your business. What they do care about is their problem and … how you solve it.

If you’re looking to get referrals from business networking then remember that nearly everyone in the room is thinking about themselves and their business, they have their own business to grow. It’s not that they’re cold and bleak, they’re indifferent. They don’t refer because it’s not in their self-interest to do so. And guess what, it’s not their fault, it’s ours. We haven’t created the business processes in a way that makes it a benefit for our client’s and others to refer or introduce us to others who have a need for our products or services.

So what does it take to get referrals, well you need just four things to exist:-

1. You must have a point of differentiation.

If you want referrals, you’ve got to start out by being different. There’s no reason for anyone to talk about your business if you’re just like all the rest if you fail the ‘scratch it out test’. The “scratch it out test” is where you take a piece of your marketing and if you scratch out your name and add your nearest competitor in and it would still be valid then you’re no different. When you’re different there’s something to talk about, there’s something noteworthy, so find that point of difference.

2. You’re Valuable.

To be referable, you’ve got to be valuable. Valuable to your clients and customers because you solve an important problem for them. Valuable to people who you want to refer others to you because you make them look good. And valuable to your potential clients before the sale because you give them knowledge and hope for a solution to a bleeding neck problem that they have.

3. You’re Likeable.

It’s quite simple really if they don’t like you, they’re not referring you. It really helps to be ‘nice’ and if you’re running a sales force it helps if they’re nice too. After all, you may be likable but if your main sales guy is a jerk then you’re not getting referred.

4. You’re Trustworthy.

Whether you like it or not, all referrals are a matter of trust because they are essentially a transfer of trust. I refer X because in the past X has done a great job for me, so when I refer X to Y, who I know and X doesn’t, I’m trusting that X will do the same great job for Y that they did for me. If they don’t then Y will ask me why I referred them to X in the first place. This is what we mean by a transfer of trust.

So how do you create the processes that makes referring you easy.?In general, the most common way of getting more referrals is to: a) ask more often and b) develop a closer relationship with your clients and customers, but here’s the kicker. Although these are the most common ways of increasing the number of referrals you receive, most business owners are reluctant to implement them. The reason is quite simple, people don’t like asking for referrals. They say it doesn’t feel right asking for people to give them business, they’d rather wait until it happens without them having to ask. That’s fine but in the vast majority of cases the referrals never come, people forget the wonderful service you gave them or the fantastic product they bought from you, and the vast majority of businesses don’t have a post sale follow up procedure to remind people.

So what’s the answer. Well the surest way of getting people to refer you is to provide them with something that’s easy for them to pass on to their friends, family or colleagues that tells them about you and your service and how it could help them too.  This is what I like to call a referral kit. It could be in the form of a book or a free download or a DVD, anything that will entice your prospective referee to pass it along to people they know that would benefit from using you or your service or product.  Books are a great referral kit for a few reasons, here are a few of them:-

  1. Being an Author puts you in a different league to others in your field who haven’t written a book. Book Authors are elevated in their field, after all they wrote the book on it.
  2. We’ve been trained since early on to seek knowledge from books.
  3. Books are portable and easy to pass around. People lend them to their family, friends and acquaintances.

Finally it’s a lot easier to produce a book now, with the advances in self publishing and with the many tools available most people can write a book in a few weeks (it doesn’t have to be war and peace after all).

If producing a book is daunting then a 20 page PDF could be as effective if it gets straight to the heart of the matter and gives people the information that they need to start their journey to solving their problem.

The important take away here and one that most business owners are not using, is that to get referrals, you need to make yourself referable and the referral kit is the easiest way to do this.

An excellent resource to find out more about this is Steve Gordon’s book; “Unstoppable referrals” you can grab a copy from Amazon here. 

If you’re interested I’ve a few events coming up soon where I’ll be speaking:-

6th JULY 4-7PM “BE BOLD, BE BRAVE” At the Hull Royal Station Hotel. How to get your next 10 clients..Click Here to book on.

7th July 12-2pm. Natwest 1 Humber Quays, Wellington Street West, Hull HU1 2BN. How to use influence in your marketing.

For further details of both events drop me an email to info@johnolivant.co.uk