steps to follow to generate referrals

5 Steps to Generate Referrals

If you could grow your business with less stress and pressure… what would be easy? What would “work” without a constant and daily focus by you?

What stressors could you eliminate?

If bringing in new clients is your answer, then this article was written just for you.

The golden egg of business development or sales is generating new clients by referrals.

Referrals are so valuable because the prospective new client who is referred knows he or she has a problem or need that needs to be solved. They trust you to be the one to solve their issue – even before you meeting you – because they trust the person who connected them to you,  and because they trust you they are less price sensitive.

You may have been taught or come to believe that referrals just happen, are sporadic, and not consistent. Or you may have been told to generate referrals you have to ask for them constantly or use a referral gimmick* to generate referrals.

(*A referral gimmick is typically something you create, like a book or guide, that you give to others to hand out to their clients so when they pass along your book they are effectively recommending you.)

But those myths, those lies, just aren’t true. Based on the results of hundreds of my students and my own success, the truth is you just need to know the 5 steps to follow to generate referrals without asking. Before we dive into the unpacking the 5 steps, let’s first get clear about creating a referral experience and the right foundation for your referral sources. Without the right foundation and referral experience, the 5 steps I will teach in this article won’t matter.

Section 1: Establish the Right Foundation
Section 2: Creating a Referral Experience
Section 3: Five Steps to Generate Referrals
Section 4: Applying the 3 Referral Platinum Principles™
Section 5: Referral Success Case Study

 

SECTION 1: ESTABLISH THE RIGHT FOUNDATION

Everyone deserves referrals, but you are not owed them. Meaning you need to earn them. Earning referrals starts with how you take care of your clients, the reputation you build for serving them well, the results you provide, how your clients feel about their decision to hire you. To earn referrals you need to deliver a strong client experience; what I call a “sticky” client experience (CX).

Now this article is about generating referrals but you first have to establish the right foundation so referrals can happen.  But don’t confuse the client experience (CX) with the referral experience (RX), coming up in section 2. While the CX and RX are similar in some ways, they are different.  The CX is delivered to each client while the RX is layered on top for clients who are referral sources.  And of course non-clients can be referral sources too so the RX is designed for them too.

But let’s first look at the foundation you need in your business so you have the confidence of your clients to refer you.

A client experience that is sticky does these 3 things really well.

1. Delivers Great Work

No one refers crappy or even average work. It is important to put processes in place to deliver “work” consistently with quality and minimal errors. The easiest way to deliver quality work is to take the mystery out of your work. What I mean is to tell your client what to expect, provide a timeline and the issues that could slow down the delivery. Setting expectations upfront is crucial to the client experience along with ongoing communication.

2. Develops Relationships with Your Clients

We naturally want to help those that care about us. It is important we connect with our clients more than just delivering the work. You don’t need to turn your clients into weekly happy hour buddies, but you do need to foster a relationship. It is important that they know they matter more than just being a dollar sign or a number on your client list.

The best way to do this is to implement relationship-focused touchpoints throughout the client experience. Show your personal side. Show you care. Show you’re human.

3. Execute Consistently

Delivering great work and developing relationships with your clients make up the client experience you build. The goal is to execute on it for each and every client, which means you need to “process-itize” it within your business so you can execute on it. Consistency is king and key to a sticky client experience.

To learn more about the client experience and how to implement your own, check out this article on the Four Steps to a Sticky Client Experience.

 

SECTION 2: CREATING A REFERRAL EXPERIENCE 

If you are going to generate referrals without asking for them you are going to have to create a referral experience for your referral sources. Your referral sources are the people who send you referrals or those you want to send you referrals. They are typically clients or centers of influence (COIs). COIs are a subset of your network who know what you do, don’t do what you do (no competitive overlap), and come in contact with your ideal client.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess what you do now to maintain a referral-generating relationship with your referral sources or potential referral sources isn’t experience worthy. Meaning, just dropping in or calling to say “hi” every few weeks isn’t going to cut it.

Neither is your automated eNewsletter or those generic cards you send that you didn’t even sign.

You are going to have to do better.

Much better.

You are going to have to create an experience; a referral experience.

A referral experience is created through connections you use to build and strengthen a relationship, specifically with your referral sources.  Because referrals only come from relationships, it is critical that you have solid relationships that you nurture with your referral sources.  The best relationships with referral sources have an experience factor because they make the referral source feel a certain way – appreciated, valued and important.

Experience Deprivation  

We are experience deprived in our society today.  We will rave online or to friends about a wonderful experience we just had in a restaurant because the food was good, the service was good and we were greeted when we arrived.

But isn’t that what is supposed to happen when you go to a restaurant?  Why is that so “shareable?”

Because we lack experiences with the brands we interact with, the people we do business with, and the products and services we use.

We are so experienced deprived that we over-dramatized what should be considered normal.

Think about the last handwritten thank you note you received.  Did it get your attention?  Were you excited to find it amidst all of your bills and junk mail.  Did you place the card on your kitchen counter or desk at work or pin it to a board on your wall?  And then when it was time to take it down from the wall or desk – did you by chance slip it into a box with other notes and keepsakes so you could keep it?

It was a card for Pete’s sake.  But it mattered because of what it represented…someone took a moment out of their day to sit and think about you, and then put those thoughts into writing.

While a thank you card isn’t free like an email, it is close to free (stamps are still less than a $.60) and a thank you card has 10x the impact on the receiver. Because it impacts their feelings.

You should never underestimate the power of impacting someone’s feelings, in this case, in a very positive way.

Maya Angelou’s said it best when she said,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When people ask me how my referral generating process is different from others, I always point to the referral experience.  The referral experience is a planned approach to connect with our referral sources in an ongoing way to show gratitude for their trust in sending people to us who need our help.  The referral experience is focused on evoking emotion and feelings because my – and your – referral sources are the most important part of our business.

Most other referral trainings focus on the basic outreach to stay top of mind but when you create a referral experience you go further than just basic outreach like daily calls, cards sent, drop ins at their office.  A referral experience goes deeper, with greater impact and it a lot more fun to execute on (yes, I said fun!).  There are four parts to a referral experience you need to understand.

  1. Focus
  2. Connection
  3. Touchpoints
  4. Genuine

The referral experience is always focused on the referral source and makes a connection between your gratitude and what they did for you (sent a referral).  That connection and gratitude is shown through touchpoints which are designed to be memorable and meaningful.  And above all else, everything is intentional and genuine.

Let’s break these parts down for you and explain them in greater detail.  You will also want to download the Referral Experience Touchpoint Checklist to reference as you are creating your touchpoints that will make up the overall experience.

You will notice each of the four parts of the referral experience are the keys within the 5 steps to generate referrals, which come up again in section 3.

 Focus

The focus of the referral experience is always on the referral source.  Whatever you do in creating the experience you do it with only one person’s needs in mind…the referral source.  They are the hero and should be treated as such.

What is important to remember in creating your referral experience is that your focus is always on the referral source.  But keep in mind you should be comfortable with the touchpoint or it won’t be genuine. For example – no matter how much my referral source likes golf, I would be miserable for a day of 18-holes, even just 9-holes, so I would not invite my referral source to play golf with me.  But I might send him to enjoy a round of golf with a buddy on me.  You don’t have to be in attendance for the impact to be felt by your referral source.

Connection

A referral experience connects in two ways.  First, it connects what you are doing – like the round of golf example above – with why you are doing it – as a thank you for the referrals received and the support given by the referral source. You’ll notice within the Referral Experience Checklist that part 3 focuses on making sure your referral source understands why you are reaching out with a card, round of golf, or lunch.  The language you use will make the connection clear to the referral source and should never directly ask for any future referrals.

Second, it connects you with your referral source in an ongoing way.   A referral experience is not built on a one-hit wonder.  Now some of your outreach or touchpoints (will be explained next) won’t always hit the mark but a referral experience is the ongoing way you take care of your referral sources.  Some might be big gestures or touchpoints. Most will be small, but mighty.

Touchpoints

Touchpoints are the outreach you do to create the experience with – impact the feelings of – your referral sources.  Touchpoints communicate your appreciation by using the right language, are meaningful and memorable, and are consistent because an experience builds over time.

Connecting the right language to the reason behind a touchpoint is critical to make the right impact.

Touchpoints must be memorable and meaningful because you want what you did to be remembered.  Your touchpoint will be remembered if it was impactful to the referral source – did it make them laugh, smile, appreciate your thoughtfulness, or surprise them?  Being memorable and meaningful extends the impact of the connection and deepens the relationship with your referral sources.

Notice also that the word touchpoints is plural – meaning more than one.  You can’t do one touchpoint and then consider your work done.  Remember no one-hit wonders allowed.  It is important to build out a plan for the overall experience you want to create so you can execute on it throughout the year – extending the ongoing connection and impact.

[To make sure each touch point hits on the criteria to be successful, download the Referral Experience TP Checklist.]

Genuine

This is perhaps the easiest to explain but when violated can make your referral experience fall apart the fastest.  A referral experience isn’t a manipulative process.  It is genuine and works because you genuinely want to show ongoing appreciation to your referral sources.  You don’t start a referral experience thinking “I will do these couple of things because it will make referrals happen.”  You think “I will take good care of the people who send me referrals and the acts of appreciation will help them remember me when they come across others needing the help I can provide.”  See the difference?

A referral experience is a planned approach to connect with our referral sources in an ongoing way to show gratitude for their trust in sending people to us who need our help.  It has to be set up correctly following the four parts of focus, connection, touchpoints, and being genuine.  It has to be maintained in an on-going way.  And it will then become the most important plan you execute on each and every year.

Now you understand a referral experience, let’s make sure you have established the right foundation from which to build a referral experience plan.

 

SECTION 3: FIVE STEPS TO FOLLOW TO GENERATE REFERRALS

Creating a referral generating plan shouldn’t be complicated or complex.  There is some work involved to create and execute on a referral plan but following a referral plan beats cold calling, incessant networking or stalking on LinkedIn everyday of the week.

There are five basic steps you need to follow to create a business that is sustained by referrals.  But these five steps are built with the understanding that you have a sticky client experience and are worthy of referrals (foundation). Then, the five steps move you up from the foundation to generating consistent referrals that sustain your business growth.

To help you with the 5 steps I created an easy to follow blueprint that you can download for free now.

Here are the 5 steps to creating a referral generating plan:

  1. Identify who refers you (or should be referring you)
  2. Follow an immediate thank you process
  3. Create a one-year plan (following the 3 Platinum Principles™)
  4. Weave in critical language to plant referral seeds
  5. Automate the plan and measure results

Step 1: Identify Who Refers You (or should be referring you)

Knowing who refers you is the most important step in generating referrals.  The easiest place to start is by looking at where your current or past clients came from…how did they find out about you.  There are two ways to do this.

First, if you use a CRM (client relationship management tool) then you should be able to generate a report that lists out your clients and the source.  The source is how they heard about you.  There are many different types of sources including attending a networking event, meeting you at a trade show, finding you in an online search, seeing your sponsorship of an event or charity, an advertisement, direct mail received, a cold call or cold email and by far the best source – a referral from someone.  Now you will only be able to pull the client list with the source if you entered that information.  Almost all CRMs have a “source” field but you still have to use it for the information to be there.

If you don’t have a CRM or don’t have this information captured somewhere else (like in a document) then you can follow the second way to generate the list of those who refer you.  You will need to create a list of your clients, sit down with that list and try to remember how they first heard about you.  Sometimes you can use your memory to remember where your clients came from and other times you may be able to look in files, notes you took during your first prospect meeting with them, in your email, in your calendar, etc.

An additional step you can take that will make this data much richer is to also pull from the CRM or list out the prospects you received via referral – even if that prospect didn’t become a client.

The second way definitely takes longer but trust me – whichever way you have to use to generate the list – will be totally worth it.

A question I receive all the time is “how far back do I have to go, meaning how many years?”  I always suggest two years at least but would prefer more if possible.  This step takes the most work of all the steps and if you do it right, will be beneficial to you in many ways.

Once you have your list, you are just going to focus on those clients or prospects who came through referral sources.  Essentially just create one list of referral sources – meaning the names of people who referred you.  The other data is important because it will show you what is also working or not working in your business and I encourage you to consider ramping up other new client generation methods that are working and eliminating those that are not.

For my online and VIP students, I provide them a “Client Look Back” document that helps makes process #2 more manageable by giving them a step-by-step guide to list out their clients and capture – as best they can – their referral sources.

Having this list of our referral sources is excellent date for your business and provides us with a starting point.  We will know a few important key points after we complete step one.  You will know:

  • Who has actually referred you (this may surprise you)
  • How many times they have referred you (the further you go back in years the better)
  • The type of prospective new client they refer to you (important later if you want to change the type of referrals you receive)

Typically, two concerns are raised after completing this exercise.  The first concern is what if you don’t have two years or more of clients to look back through to pull the sources?

The second concern is what if you pull the date for the last five years (or more) and the smallest source of all your sources is referral sources?  Meaning most of your new clients or prospects have come through other means and were not referred to you?

It is okay – don’t stress.  At least 50% of those I work with start in this place.  I call it starting from scratch.  When you go through your clients and prospects to pull out the sources you will either have a list of at least 5 to 10 referral sources identified or we will need to first focus on growing your base of referral sources.  It works the same way if you are new in business or just don’t have many clients yet, meaning you don’t have many sources, including referral sources.

It is important at this point to identify who should be referring you.  Referrals will typically come from two main places – clients and centers of influence.  Most people want a combination of both clients and centers of influences but some people only have one type.  There is not a right or wrong – it is more about what will work within your business.

If you are interested in generating more referrals sources because you are starting from scratch I encourage you to read this article – What to Do When You Need More Referral Sources and then follow the exercise included within the article.  It is a great place to start to identify your ideal referral sources so you can create a plant to cultivate the ideal referral sources.

Step 2: Follow an Immediate Thank You Process

To have an immediate thank you process you need two things.  A way to track all of your referrals received and plenty of thank you cards.

Tackle the Tracker

When it comes to tracking your referrals received…you just need a few data points to collect.  When we try to track too much data it starts to overwhelm us and we are more likely to abandon it.  Tracking referrals should be easy – one of the easiest processes you have in your business.

You need to have one document where you capture some basic information – the date or year the referral was received, the name of the referral source is and the name of the prospective new client they referred to you.  You can also track outcome – if they become a client or not.

If it helps you, you can download my referral tracker for free. (link to tracker lead box)

Once you have the tracker, you need a “keeper” of the tracker.   If you are a solopreneur and it is just you in your business – then you are the keeper.  I was for many years.  But if you have an assistant – virtual or local – part-time or full-time – you can delegate the job of “keeper” to them.  It doesn’t matter to me who the keeper is – it is just important to have someone responsible for the list.

Here is how my assistant and I follow the referral capture process.

When someone refers me to another person – a prospective client – I simply send the information to my virtual assistant and she inputs the data in the tracker.  She loads the info in and can send me the most up-to-date version of the tracker when I ask for it.

Almost 100% of my referrals come through email because that is how I position myself to receive them.

Following this process, I can feel confident that I will have a record of each referral received. There are many reasons to keep the tracker current…you know how many referrals received, you know who to thank, you know how to categorize your referral sources to leverage more referrals, and you know who you should be following up with to become new clients.

Now The Thank You Card

I believe you should invest in note cards and stamps.  Use those note cards to write a thank you note for past referrals, acknowledge what your referral source means to your business, or just say hi and thinking about you.  You can buy some inexpensive note cards from a local store or spend less than $100 to have cards printed with your logo. You may not have to pay a designer if you design the cards online but you’ll always have to pay for printing.

If you want to go a little further with your thank you cards, I encourage you to create ones that are memorable or funny.  When you can catch someone’s attention they remember it.  I designed a few different thank you cards for my business and people appreciate receiving them.  One of my favorite cards is my Keep Calm and Referral On thank you card.

I’d love for you to download my card and use it if it makes your life easier.  You can download my Referral On thank you card design for free.

Just click on the link above to download the design file and upload it direct to your favorite online printer or email the file to your favorite local printer.  Once you download the file I will also send you steps on how to upload it to one of the online printers I use, which is Vistaprint.

To have a fully functioning referral plan you need to be sending out thank you cards as soon as possible once a referral has been received.  I believe 24 to 48 hours is a great time frame to aim for but make sure you have the thank you note in the mail before a week has gone by.  To nail step two, you need to track your referrals and then send the appropriate thank you note within a reasonable time frame, the sooner the better.

Step 3: Create a one-year plan 

What makes a referral generating plan so simple yet so crucial for your business is that it is a plan.  One that you have to follow for it to work, of course, but you plan it out in advance.  For my online and VIP students, we build their referral generating plans on a 12-month cycle.  This way we can see what we are going to do to build and strengthen our relationships with our referral sources and can assess the cost.

The 12-month referral generating plan is the series of touch points.  No, you don’t need 12 touch points and yes, you can have a few touch points within one month if it makes sense.

But don’t get overwhelmed thinking a referral generating plan needs a big budget – in fact you can build your plan on shoestring budget which makes a referral generating plan possible for any size business.

But how long you build your plan for and the budget considerations are just logistics – it is the what you are going to do that makes this plan work.

And the what you are going to do is so important it warrants its own section in this article, Applying the 3 Referral Platinum Principles (section 4, below the final two steps).

Step 4: Weave in the critical language to plant referral seeds

A fundamental principle is to never ask for referrals.  It is what makes my system, my plan for you different from others.  The secret ingredient to making that happen is to weave in language that plants referral seeds.  With the right kind of referral seeds you never need to ask for a referral.

Within the referral generating plan there are key moments to use the right language.  For example:

  • what you say in a thank you card
  • the message you include with one of our touch points
  • how you invite referral sources to an event not just for referral sources
  • what you say when you forgot to thank someone
  • how to turn a warm lead into a referral
  • how to turn an introduction into a referral
  • what you say during your first meeting with the person who was referred to you and considering hiring you.

These are all moments to weave in the right language, to plant referral seeds.  It is with this language that we show our gratitude and authenticity to our referral sources.  This language is never manipulative or takes advantage of the referral source.

Within my Growth By Referrals program I provide more than 20 “script” or language for many different scenarios and then provide feedback to individuals on specific touch point ideas.  I feel it is my obligation to support my students in this way so they can show up the right way to their referral sources.  It is a bit of an art form which can certainly be learned once you understand the key pieces to every message.

Step 5: Automate the plan and measure results

If step #3 – the one-year plan – is the what you do, then this step is how you make it happen. Your referral sources need an experience but you – as a small business owner who is pressed for time –you need a process. A process you can follow and execute on. It is the execution of the plan and of course tracking and measuring what is working and what is not working.  The automation portion of this plan is really based on the scheduling of the touch points.  Unfortunately, you cannot automate or outsource all of the pieces.  You will have some work to do.  For example, you will need to write your thank you notes.  I don’t care how bad you claim your handwriting to be…you must show up authentically for this to work.

And then comes tracking and measuring our results.  If we don’t track a few key metrics then we won’t know what is working and what is not working.

Here are the few key metrics to track:

  • Number of referrals received by year (and you can break down by month as well to track trends over time)
  • Number of referrals received from each referral source (someone who sent you 10 referrals in a year needs an upgraded referral experience than someone who sent your 1 or 2 a year)
  • Increase in number of referrals received from individual referral sources year over year (meaning are they sending you more referrals now that you are following the plan)
  • Breakdown of referrals by sources, which are typically client or centers of influence
  • Your close rate for each referral source (meaning the average number or percent you close from individual sources – this helps you understand who is setting you up correctly and who is not)

 

SECTION 4: APPLYING THE 3 REFERRAL PLATINUM PRINCIPLES 

Remember the what you are going to do is the outreach to your referral sources – the touch points built with 12 months in mind. But most important to remember is that your referral sources are on the receiving end of our plan.

If you followed me for any length of time you know my referral philosophy…

Referrals only come from relationships.

        Relationships come from connecting.

        And connections are built through ongoing touch points. 

Within this 12 month plan you are going to build the focus is on the touchpoints or outreach to your referral sources, with the goal to keep you top of mind by being memorable and meaningful.  Our goal is to create an ongoing experience for our referral sources that encourages them to send more referrals.

I teach my VIP and online students to follow a simple mantra known as the 3 Platinum Principles™ of generating referrals.

3 Platinum Principles™

  1. Must be all about them
  2. Must be authentic to you
  3. Must keep you top of mind

Referrals come from relationships so you must look at each of the three principles from that perspective.  To receive more referrals, we need to be focused on developing deeper relationships with those who do refer us or could refer us.  And by deeper relationship I don’t mean “let’s grab a beer every night after work.”  What I mean is taking time to know your referral sources, understand what matters to them, what they need, and why they refer you.

You use the Platinum Principles to guide the decisions you make to help you create the experiences, the moments, the touch points you create for your referral sources.

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Platinum Principle #1: Must be all about them

You cannot confuse marketing, branding or promotion with referrals.  While marketing, branding and promotion have their place within your business they should not impact how you structure your referral plan.

When you think about your referral sources first consider: What can you do that makes it all about them?  What do they need?  And specifically, what do they need from you?  There are five ways to deliver on this Platinum Principle but it starts with making sure you thank your referral sources and whatever you deliver, make sure it is memorable and meaningful.

Platinum Principle #2: Must be authentic to you

When considering and applying Platinum Principle #1, you must balance what they need against what feels authentic to you.  Meaning don’t make things you don’t want to do a part of our referral experience.  This is probably best explained with an example or two.

I worked with a financial advisor on his referral plan and when we started talking about what his referral sources needed (clients and Centers of Influence) he was pretty clear on principle #1.  He was extremely appreciative of his referrals sources but there was a fundamental principle of who he is that he had to honor.  To him it was more important to be a part of his kids’ lives by throwing the ball in the front yard, coaching their sport teams and being home for dinner so he wasn’t interested in having to spend time a lot of time with his referral sources after work hours like grabbing a beer, attending dinner charity events or networking dinners. It wasn’t that his referral sources weren’t important, it was just that being a dad was more important.  So, I would never create a plan for him that violated who he was as a person because he wouldn’t have enjoyed it and it wouldn’t have been authentic to him.

So, as you build your plan, consider what is most authentic to you.

Platinum Principle #3: Must keep you top of mind

The final piece of platinum principles is to create touch points, experiences and moments that keep you top of mind. A one-and-done touch point won’t work or be effective and your touch points  need to move you from top-of-mind, which is several levels above just keeping-in-touch.   The opportunity to create experiences – moments – touch points – is endless.  You just have to take some time to consider what your referral sources need and what you are willing to do.

Focus on the touch points being memorable and meaningful – I call it minding your M&Ms.  Because we are interested in staying in touch…we want to be top of mind because that is how you build the habit in your referral sources to refer more prospective new clients to you.

Let’s unpack one referral success case study to see how this works in reality.

 

SECTION 5: REFERRAL SUCCESS CASE STUDY

2,730 referrals since 2003.

That’s 210 referrals per year.

Every year for the past 13 years.

And that is just what he has tracked in a spreadsheet (since 2003).   Prior to switching over to tracking in excel he kept a list of all referrals and referral sources in the back of his yearly paper calendars since 1977, the year he started his own law practice.

Just amazing.

And 100% possible.

From time to time I have people tell me their business is built by 100% referrals.  As you can imagine my ears perk up and I want to know more.  So I always ask to interview those who have a business built 100% by referrals (or close to it) to see what else I can learn.  I feel it is my obligation so I can continue to provide the best solutions and advice to my students and members of my Growth By Referrals program and community.

But what I have found is that while people say their business is built completely by referrals… when I peel back the data… that is not the case.

Like the realtor recently interviewed who said he attributes his business growth to referrals but when asked to share his top new client generation tool, the realtor talked about the leads he buys from an expired database.

Complete disconnect.

Or like a life coach who does have a business built off of referrals but it is a part-time business so getting a handful of referrals every so often works because she is not trying to grow or scale a business.  Please understand there is nothing wrong with this model, it works for a lot of people and I commend them for their ability to build a business by design.  But it is harder to extrapolate lessons learned in this situation.

I’ve learned to discern (and inquire) what someone means when they talk about building a business solely or even mostly from referrals.

Which is why my time with David Erdman, the attorney who has received on average 210 referrals a year and truly has a business built on referrals was so exciting, refreshing and validating.

He allowed me in to peel back the layers of how he made it happen.

And it was like looking in a mirror.

When David talked about what he has done over the years it completely aligned with what I teach my clients and members of my Growth By Referrals online community.  And that was rewarding and validating.

Why validating?

I know what I teach my students works.  My results are very real – 100+ referrals every year for multiple years in a row.  And my students’ results speak volumes to including attorneys, CPAs, financial advisors, business and life coaches, investment bankers, realtors, home builders, commercial printers and more.

But there is something really cool about meeting a business owner who over time has figured out how to generate referrals because he uncovered how and why referrals really work.

Understanding the human dynamic and psychology of why referrals happen and what doesn’t work when generating referrals is important to having referral success… especially like the incredible referral success David has enjoyed. What David shared with me that he has done to grow a business based 100% on referrals mirrors what I do and teach others to do.

Implement a “Sticky” Client Experience

When we first sat down, David walked me through his process as if I was a new client…it was incredible.

He set clear expectations up front and in writing which include fee arrangements, processes and limitations. He wasn’t going to risk an unhappy client later because they didn’t know what to expect.

He listened well and focused on determining if he could help, the prospective client, instead of selling them.

He also put into place processes and templates to deliver superior work but also allows him to streamline his work and save him time.

He also focused on building relationships with his clients – sharing a family Christmas card and family update letter.

Remember the client experience is the foundation to build from to receive referrals from clients.  But the reputation and buzz you receive for how you treat and work with clients will impact growing your non-client potential referral sources too.

Focus on Building Relationships with Referral Sources

As I have said, referrals come from relationships.  One way to build and strengthen relationships with our referral sources is to show the non-work side of yourself, the personal side.

While David sends a yearly family Christmas card to his clients…he includes referral sources. I’ll be honest, this made me almost burst with happiness.  David’s been sending out a personal Christmas card for decades as a way to connect and build relationships.  It kills me that I sometimes have to arm twist my clients into putting a family photo on the card. Because remember, people don’t do business with a company and don’t refer a company…we do business with a person and we refer to a person.

You should be looking for ways to connect on a personal level with your referral sources because we do business with and refer people to those we know, like and trust.

Always Thank the Referral Source

Never miss an opportunity to thank a referral source…handwritten thank you notes are a must! Which means that super fast email you just typed and sent out thanking for that referral just won’t cut it. Your referral sources value your thanks more then they can tell you spent time on thanking them. While a handwritten thank you note doesn’t cost a lot and only takes a few minutes to complete – the impact our referral source feels is far greater because they recognize that you took time to think about them as you wrote the note. The impact is so great because writing thank you notes is a dying art form…so we appreciate it more.

But you also need to extend the thank you to a 12 month referral experience complete with ongoing touch points which are meaningful and memorable..

Which means building a business supported 30%, 50%, 70% or even 100% from referrals is possible.

David Erdman has been doing it for more than 30 years without asking for referrals, or using manipulation tactics or paying a commission for referrals received.

 

It is possible.

Yes, even for you.

Even if your referrals are inconsistent.  Or sporadic. Or non-existent.

Even if you don’t receive the majority of your new clients through referrals.

Even if you don’t have a system in place to nurture current referral sources.

This. Is. Possible.

How do I know?  Because their is a process to follow and results speak.

My results.  My students’ results. And hopefully, one day, your results.

To get started take the free 7 Day Referral Growth Challenge to learn how, in 7 days, to increase you referrals.

 

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