I spoke to a client the other day who was asking for some advice on a new marketing campaign his team was getting ready to launch. Before I dug into the campaign, I asked him if they had gone to their existing clients as a source of referrals.
He said most of his clients viewed them and their work as a bit of a “best kept secret,” therefore, they were reluctant to offer referrals. So I asked him when was the last time he had heard someone say they were a “best kept secret,” and of course, he couldn’t tell me. He acknowledged this was nothing more than a bit of an assumption after pushing back a bit more.
For most companies, regardless of industry or type of business, referrals can be their lifeblood, but all too often, mistakes are made when it comes to gathering.
Here are just a few of the biggest mistakes I see when it comes to referrals and how to avoid them:
Forgetting/Neglecting to Ask for Referrals
All too often, companies believe that if they do good work, then clients will give referrals.
That’s false. People don’t typically go out of their way to give referrals unless we ask for them. There’s also fear or reluctance to ask for referrals because it can often feel “icky.”
This is a myth. Unless you’re employing the “I’m not leaving your office until you give me three names” approach, happy clients often love to spread the word and share referrals.
There are both elegant and classy ways to ask for referrals in literally ANY type of business. If you want some ideas, reach out.
Not Having a Referral Process
Regardless of business type, you need a process in place.
Just like you MUST have a sales process, you need a referral process. You need a systematic approach to asking for referrals (or knowing when they aren’t asked for!)
Thinking Great Service is Enough
Related to the first point above, too many organizations leave referrals to chance.
“If we deliver great service, then surely our clients will tell others about us.”
I know so many of you deliver such great value and service that if it were enough, you could get rid of your sales teams this afternoon and thrive off a perpetual flood of referral business, but it’s usually not the case.
So look, here’s the thing.
In my world, process is everything. As I’ve said many times, I define process as a “shared set of expectations.” These are expectations from management of what is supposed to happen and your team’s expectations as to what needs to get done.
At a bare minimum, you need the following:
- A defined, thought-out referral process.
- A clearly-defined sales process.
- You need defined customer service processes for dealing with the most common and frequent client challenges and requests.
- You need a post-purchase retention process.
- You need a decision-making process.
This means that your people know what to do, they have the tools to do it, and there’s a process or adherence to that process when the time comes.
Some companies know what to do and have taken the time to think about the process, but they don’t have the tools to support their efforts.
We see this all the time with sales organizations, some doing over a billion dollars in revenue, without a clearly-defined sales process. These companies have people running around with their hands tied.
Other companies have tools and processes, with people who don’t really know what to do all the time. These companies have their people doing things without any clear direction.
Your challenge for this week is simple: Look at your referral generation processes and be honest, has your team given enough thoughts to referrals? Would you say you have fully-developed referral process?
If not, have the discussion. If you want my help, feel free to reach out.
No Replies to "The Last Thing You Want to Be is a Best Kept Secret"