When push comes to shove at growing your revenue, there is one source of new business that simply can’t be overlooked – referrals. Marketing is important, but nothing beats a positive recommendation from a trusted client or friend. Once you have your existing clients singing your praises to the world, business is practically guaranteed to start pouring in.
With that said, referrals don’t usually just happen on their own. Teaching your clients to refer others to you is an important part of your role as a business owner – and will help build a referral network that will last a long time.
Why Are Referrals Important?
Let’s do some hypothetical math – say you finish your first year in business with twenty clients, each of whom has paid you an average of $5000. That’s $100,000 in revenue for the year. If you ask for a referral from each of your clients and only five of them respond by introducing you to 1-2 new prospects, that’s 5-10 possible clients for the upcoming year.
Depending on your sales ability, let’s say you only close two deals from those new clients. That’s an extra $10,000 in revenue – 10% growth from the year prior. And you didn’t spend a penny to get it! That’s the power of referral marketing.
When Should I Ask For A Referral?
There are plenty of occasions where the opportunity arises to ask your client for a referral – and different schools of thought on the best ones. For example:
- Before you start their project. Some business owners suggest that you should ask a client up front, before even starting your project, for a referral. Saying something along the lines of “If you like working with me over the course of your project, the best compliment you can pay is a referral to a friend or colleague,” can go a long way toward establishing your desire for quality referrals.
- After you complete their project. Along similar lines, assuming your client is happy with your work, it’s always a good idea to let them know that you enjoyed working with them and would appreciate a referral (in addition to prompt payment!) if they know of someone that could benefit from your services.
- Throughout the year. If you’ve ever worked with a Realtor® or a mortgage broker, you’ve seen this type of marketing before, even if you don’t know it. Holiday cards, three- and six-month check-ins, and any other follow-up communication almost always has an ask for a referral buried in the “thank you” and “our pleasure” text.
How Should I Ask For A Referral?
The best way to ask for a referral is… to ask. When you’re meeting with your client, don’t be gun-shy – just bring up the fact that you would appreciate it if they would recommend your services to someone they know and trust.
In addition to an in-person request, following up with an automated email or postcard every 3-6 months after you complete their project isn’t a bad idea. Even if they don’t read the whole thing, keeping your name top of mind will benefit you if something pops up and they need to make a recommendation.