I love referrals. They are a boon to my business. The problem with referrals is that many people don’t understand them.
Is It Really a Referral?
When someone hands me a business card or a note with a name and number, that’s a lead. It’s not a referral. A referral is, essentially, an introduction.
When someone tells their friend via call, text, social media, or conversation that they should contact me, and then let me know they’ve done that (along with that friend’s contact info), that’s a referral. When someone sends their friend a link to my website or FB Page, that’s a referral. If someone suggests that I meet up with them and their friend, that’s a fantastic referral!
Once I have a true referral, it’s up to me to follow up. And, it’s my job to continue to follow up until the other person clearly breaks off the contact or moves from contact to customer. (The follow-up doesn’t stop there, it just changes in tone.)
It’s also my job to keep the person who gave me that referral in the loop. Whether that’s “I’m trying to connect with [referred name]” or “Thanks so much for the great referral; [referred name] is meeting with me on Tuesday.” Keeping the person who referred someone to you informed has two purposes. First, if you’re having trouble connecting with the person they referred, they might give you an alternate, better way of contacting that person. Second, it makes them more likely to refer others to you. And, don’t we all want more referrals?
Finally, consider rewarding those whose referrals lead to business for you. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel appreciated.
A Final Note
I think the biggest reason business people don’t get referrals is that they don’t ask for them. Ask your satisfied customers to introduce you to people who might also enjoy your services or products. After all, you rarely get what you don’t ask for.