Refining your referral process is something you should be doing on a pretty frequent basis as a small business owner, however, its likely its also quick to fall to the bottom of the To-Do list…
Building out a realistic referral process can create longevity and stability, and reduce the need for constant reevaluation.
Even in 2019, “85 percent of small businesses say word-of-mouth referrals are the number one way that new prospects find out about their businesses. Influitive, an advocate marketing firm, found that referrals have a higher conversion, close faster, and have a higher lifetime value.” (Outboundengine.com)
Most business owners would also agree that the initial fear of the ask is the biggest roadblock in the referral building process- the advice? Get over yourself.
You have to ask, but the way you ask is definitely an area for improvement. Make sure you display tact and taste, and that your ask reflects your personality and that of your business.
Think about encouraging referrals instead of asking for them. Sometimes simply the language associated with the referral process generates the most discomfort.
Referrals should be built on in a network fashion- they should piggyback on one another, each helping the next get further in the process. Always be prepared to offer back what you have asked for.
When you’re ready to craft a referral strategy consider including the following:
2. Quality incentives
3. Easy sharing mechanisms
4. Maintenance schedule to refine and promote
Assigning referrals to a person or team is also a good idea. It makes the most sense to keep this within your customer service team, though instead of assuming everyone is doing a small amount, consider assigning the referral management to one employee.
Remember that both formal and informal referral systems naturally exist. Formal systems include companies with relatable businesses, vendors/buyers, other professionals that naturally relate back to your businesses services and products. Informal would be people you meet at events, conferences, personal contacts- anyone you hand a business card to. Don’t forget to nurture both!