When customers have quality experiences with a business, they’re usually happy to share. And this word-of-mouth marketing can be crucial to winning future business. According to Nielsen, people are 4 times more likely to buy a product or service when referred by a friend, and 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. Here are a few key takeaways for businesses looking to receive more happy customer referrals.
1. Take “no” for an answer
Want to get more sales referrals? Get used to taking “no” for an answer. Not all of your customers should be considered as a good referral source. Whether they have lingering issues, or your sales reps simply haven’t had the time to develop a strong, long-term relationship, there’s probably a reason why they won’t be willing to refer your business. Be prepared for negative feedback, but minimize rejections by seeking out the clients most willing to act as brand ambassadors for your brand.
2. Leverage a CRM system
You probably won’t get many quality referrals if you’re not actively trying to build relationships with your customers. Utilizing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution helps out in this arena. With a CRM solution in place, your sales reps (and even your customer service staff) will have the tools they need to consistently and effectively stay in touch with your most valued customers.
3. Utilize LinkedIn
I like to think of LinkedIn as a social networking site designed to make referrals a simplified process. Instead of asking for referrals without doing the background research, LinkedIn has an advanced search feature which enables you to seek out connections you’d like to be introduced to. If you have a name or company name already in mind, you’re ready to utilize LinkedIn’s impressive searching tools to find second-degree connections to connect with within your industry or niche.
4. Ask only the best clients
It sounds like common sense, but it’s important to get the point across. Not every client is going to be the right fit for a referral. If you haven’t built the relationship with your customer yet, you’re just going to be wasting your time.
In general, it’s important to consider only candidates who possess the following criteria:
- Seasoned relationship with customer
- Frequent communication between both parties
- High level of product or service satisfaction
- Strong willingness to share
- Trust has been built
- No lingering issues with support/services
5. Create a referral template
Your customers are probably busy—the last thing on their mind is acting as a referral for your prospects and future customers. So why not make it easy for them? Creating a referral template is a simple and easy way for your existing customers to share a positive review and experience with your prospects. The easier you make it, the better. Here are a few template ideas to get you started.
6. Take feedback into account
Yes, referrals can be a great, inexpensive sales tool. But that’s not all they should be used for. Whether the answer to your referral inquiry was “yes” or “no,” you need to act on that feedback. If a customer declined to provide a referral, don’t panic! Instead, try to find out why.
Is there a lingering issue with their product, or is there a support ticket still out without resolution?
A client not willing to act as a referral might have negative, but also constructive, feedback to share. Take advantage! If one customer is having an issue, there’s a chance others are dealing with the same challenge as well.
Referrals shouldn’t be the only way your sales reps are getting feedback from existing customers. Consider utilizing an online survey software solution to distribute client satisfaction surveys. These will help you keep tabs on what you’re doing right, what needs work, and which clients might need extra attention.
Ryan Sweeney is a content strategist at WorkWise, the provider of OnContact CRM software.