We all know that the very best lead you can get into your business is a referral. When someone is referred to your business by someone that they know and respect, they are already open to your offering.

So how can you ensure that your business has a steady stream of referrals to supplement all you parallel lead generation activities?

While there are many systems that exist to automatically generate referrals, there is no doubt that the very best way is to ask your satisfied customers.

But what is the best way to ask to avoid getting the brush off? Indeed you may find customers will promise the world, yet they never seem to actually deliver.

Most referrals are luck! Most in fact come about due to the following 2 reasons.

A satisfied customer may be talking about the great benefits he just received from a business to a friend who just happens to be looking for a similar solution.

Someone looking for a solution calls around a number of friends and looks for a recommendation.

So how can you convince your customer to help you?

By showing them what they stand to gain from giving you the referral.

I would suggest that you have a conversation with your customer, when you have just confirmed that they are happy with your offering, along the following lines.

  • What specifically did you like about our offering?
  • Why did you choose us in the end?
  • What did our solution enable your business to really achieve?
  • How do you believe you would put a value on that?
  • And what precisely would that value be?
  • How long did it take you to get that value?

At this point you feed back to the customer the value that they obtained. Here is an example of a specific client situation of mine.

“Peter’s intervention at Aquatech was very timely. We were a successful heating and supplies company, turning over more than €3million. Peter identified a few areas for immediate improvement, specifically in relation to marketing, organisational structure and sales process. 6 Months on, I am delighted to say that our revenues our up 40% year on Year.”Brian McCarthy, Aquatech Ireland, www.aquatech.ie

Now that you have your testimonial in the bag from a delighted customer you now continue with your questions.

Are you friends or know anybody well who runs a similar business to your own?

How do you believe they would be able to benefit from the same type of offerings that you just benefited from?

If they were to get those benefits, how do you see yourself benefiting?

Now repeat back to the customer how they stand to benefit from passing on your details to their close associates as a referral. But don’t let them off the hook here.

  • Ask them how they believe the best way to make contact with these people is.
  • Find out when they intend to make contact.
  • Ask for the names of the people that they intend to make contact with, so that you can ensure you really look after them.

When you get back to your office, you need to confirm 2 things.

  • The testimonial that your customer has given you is OK to use
  • The names of the people of businesses that they promised to contact. As a reminder you may even suggest that they use the testimonial that they have given you as a way of introducing you!

Some people still feel uneasy about asking their customers for both testimonials and referrals. As part of our workshops, such as the Customer Value Proposition Workshop, we bring our customers through the process.

Once we work with you to identify how your lead generation activities can be turned into qualified leads, you might be interested in ensuring that you have the right sales processes and methodologies in place. Once you have the team singing off the same hymn sheet we can ensure consistency of performance with our coaching and mentoring for both the executive team and the sales team, to ensure you continue to achieve superior results.

This article was written by Peter Lawless, founder of 3R Sales and Marketing – www.3r.ie. To make sure you never miss future articles, you should visit the website and subscribe to our Success Newsletter and you will get a copy of the latest articles as soon as they are written.