Bob Janet
Bob Janet

What is the worst bad business assumption? Assuming word-of-mouth advertising is the best form of marketing.

Answer this question. Have you purchased an item or service in the past week or month that you were perfectly satisfied with? Perfectly satisfied with the product and/or the business you made the purchase from? Sure you have.

Now answer this question. How many of your friends, family, and associates have you referred the businesses to that you have been satisfied with? Most of us will answer “None.” Or “Not many.” And that does not make us bad people. We do not have the time to go around referring businesses to our friends, family, and associates. And we do not think about doing it. That is the same thing that is happening to your business every day. Your very satisfied customers are not referring you to others.

The best form of marketing is referral marketing. But you have to be aggressive to make it work.

And by aggressive I mean… To gain a referral all you have to do is ask for it!

I simply ask my satisfied customer, “Mr. Customer, you know I gain most of my customers from my satisfied customers like you referring me to their family, friends, and colleagues. Who do you know that I can also help with my products and services?”

To make my request more effective I use the choice technique:

“Mr. Customer, you know I gain most of my customers from my satisfied customers like you referring me to their family, friends, and colleagues. Who do you know that I can also help with my products and services? Do you want to give me two or three referrals now or would you rather I telephone you tomorrow for them?”

When you give people choices your success increases because people feel in control and people will do what you want when they feel in control.

I also offer my satisfied customers gifts for giving me referrals and introducing me to new prospects.

There are three types of referral introductions:

Type A - Personal Introduction Referral. This is the very best. Go for a direct, face-to-face introduction as often as possible. This is where your customer personally introduces you to the prospect. This might be done over lunch or at a social gathering, or better yet, in a business atmosphere.

You may have to buy a few lunches, but it is well worth it. The prospect’s office is best because it gives the prospect the feeling of control, and people are much more receptive when they feel they are in control. This type of referral works best because the prospect gains much more respect for you since the person giving the referral is spending time, going out of their way to introduce you.

To gain this type of introduction all you have to do is ask for it. Don’t be bashful. Come right out and say something like this, “Jim, it would be great if you would have time for me to buy you and Mr. _______ lunch this week or next week. Which day will work best for you?” Then ask your customer if he feels it would be best for him to telephone Mr. ________ and set up the lunch or if you should do it.

Type B - Telephone Referral. Not as great as a personal face-to-face introduction, but still mighty powerful. Again, the same system works. Ask your satisfied customer to telephone the prospects he is referring you to. If you have a great relationship with him and have provided him with great products and services that helped him solve his problems, or fulfilled his needs and wants, then be bold, just ask him. “Jim, thanks for these three referrals. Would you be able to telephone them today, while I am here, or would tomorrow work better for you?”

Type C - Written Referral. The Type C Referral is when your customer or contact writes a personal letter of introduction and endorsement for you to the prospect. Type C rates a notch lower than the Type B referral, but it’s still an outstanding way to be referred. After all, if someone is going to take the time to write a letter about you, they must feel that you and your product or service has performed admirably.

Don’t let the referral run out of gas.

You can use the referral over and over again with the same prospect. Most of the time you will not get an appointment or get the prospect to come to meet you the first time. When you contact the prospect a second, third, and fourth time, always mention the referring satisfied customer, and how they are continuing to benefit from doing business with you.

Don’t forget to thank the referring satisfied customer.

If they gave you referrals once, they will give you referrals again. But only if you continue your relationship with them. Of course you have already sent them a thank you note. (Make it a true thank you note. Just thank them. Never use it as a solicitation.) Stay at the forefront of their mind by continuing to provide them with information and items that will help them in their business or personal life.

Don’t assume your customers will refer you to others. They won’t without you aggressively asking.

Publication date: 10/10/2011