If you are frustrated about generating small amounts of new business the chances are you should devote more time to obtaining references from existing satisfied customers.
Generating referrals can start at the very first meeting with a new client. Inform the new client about yourself and your business and tell them that you acquire many of your new customers through referrals and client recommendations. If you change the subject then try to remind the new customer of this again later in the conversation, the customer will not be surprised when you refer back.
Sales people, who don’t ask, don’t get and are often ignored. Clients will never give referrals of their own back. So try to get into the habit of always asking for referrals, what harm can it do. The right time to ask for a referral is when you feel the customer is completely satisfied with your services. If your order fell through for whatever reason but you felt you helped the customer with advise or guidance, contact them and ask for the referral still, if it was on their part the order did not materialise then the customer will more than likely fell some guilt and be happy to offer a referral.
Another way of generating great referrals within the same client group can be to ask if they have any friends or relatives or close working relationships with other companies. Everyone usually has good friends in other workplaces. Try to ask for at least three contacts form one client, this number has been proven to be a realistic but not an excessive amount of information to ask any one for. Be wary of exceeding this amount as you do not want to upset or irritate the one customer you already have.
If you feel that the direct approach is not working for you, try asking the customer if they will be prepared to do this for you. Once again if you have helped the client out for free, they will more than likely accept this request as a favour. Once again be wary of excessive use of calling in favours as this can work against you in the long run.
Using a referral form is a trick to use when asking for references where customers can write down client names. By simply handing over this form, your sending a two non verbal messages over, please complete this form and this is normal practice. Always get the full details you require such as a full name, contact number and email address. How annoying do you get when you receive a mail shot with your name spelt incorrectly.
When you make contact with perspective clients from your list, try to mention who gave you their name and number and always try to compliment the client on their products or services. If you become complimentary about the person you are talking to then this information can be documented and used as a good opener of you ever meet that person.
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