Harness the Power of Referrals

If you’re a small business owner, you’re no stranger to hard work, learning curves, and passion. However, most owners don’t capitalize on their most powerful asset: referrals, and a solid system. These are the people that can make or break your business.

Referrals are your networking system. It’s a group of friends, happy customers, and allies that are willing to vet you to clients. Other than that, it’s a recommendation display that shows a customer you’re worth investing their time and money into.

It seems simple enough, but most companies don’t implement this properly. Skip to the front of the line with our tips.

referral system shown as a light bulb with thought bubbles
It all begins with you. Take your company to the next level with an expanded network.

1. Make a Promise

Referrals mean nothing if you can’t deliver. The first and most basic step is to prove your worth. This means being amazing at your job.

Every business will be different, so make sure you’re delivering your best every day. Stay on top of market trends, communicate effectively, and be honest. With these tenets, you will build a reputation of integrity, and that in itself will speak volumes.

Bottom line: promise your referrals excellence.

2. Tailor Your Referrals

Doing good work is essential, but having the right people in your network can channel your reputation to the right audiences. You don’t want to be fishing in the wrong pond, so to speak. You will not reel in any prospects.

Use our incredible modern technology to build your network. Before you reach out, check their profiles and confirm you want these people in your network This includes coworkers, family, and academic colleagues.

After finding them, hand them exactly what you want to be referred. This means taking snapshots, documents, and other representations of your work, refining it to look the best, and then giving it to your referrers. If they know what to say to best highlight your product or service, then you can rest assured the delivery to prospective clients will go smoothly.

game pieces of every color making up a referral system
Combining all these steps together will not only grow your business, but it’ll also grow your friendships.

Important note: make sure to add why you are unique in the business. Your profile’s personal spin is the easiest way to connect with people.

For example, if you mention you’re a foodie in your Twitter profile, perhaps you can make a connection with a work prospect through your shared interest. A recipe exchange can be what stands out because you not only make a sale, you make a friend.

3. Be Part of the Process

Like anything, marketing is all about the give and take. If you want people to refer you, be willing to refer them back.

This way, you are building a trusted network, an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” system. It’s not just about making as many sales as possible but creating a series of trusting relationships (or building friendships) so that everyone’s needs are met. This involves being picky with whom you share your business with, where you ask for referrals, and then keeping your network up to date.

Make sure to show gratitude when you get successful work from your referral system. Follow-up with people that give you a hand by sending thank-you notes or thoughtful gifts.

One last note is to set your referral system in a measurable document. Either keep a notebook or use an app to track which referrals are giving value. If something isn’t working out as well as you hoped, don’t be afraid to trim your network down. After all, these techniques won’t work as well if you aren’t doing your part to maintain.

How to Follow-Up the Right Way

We live in a time of information overload. Let’s face it–your email may just be glanced over if not sent directly to the spam bin. If you want to convert your spam to sale, you have to write follow-up emails that work.

Repetitive language and email templates aren’t going to get you any closer to success, especially if you’re using phrases like “just seeing how you’re doing.” Language like this is overused like the words “very” or “good.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with these words; but there’s a time and place. Starting an email with “I’m very excited. Have you seen this very good discount?” is going to send anyone into snoresville.

Enough about the wrong ways, let’s go over how you can send a follow-up the right way. Just keep these ideas in mind: Define, Clarify, and Time.

Define

Like starting a road trip, you won’t get far if you just hop in the car with no destination in mind. If you’re writing a follow-up email, you have to understand what your purpose is. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make.

man sending a follow-up email at his desk
Defining your email is the best place to start. Make sure you know why you’re sending the message in the first place.

The point of defining your follow-up is like setting your GPS. These are the most common types:

  • Reminder- Prompting someone to respond to an earlier email.
  • Thank You- Showing appreciation for a sale or otherwise.
  • Request- Asking for more information or another sales push

Knowing which one you’re writing is going to give you the parameters for your call-to-action. A reminder follow-up has a completely different tone than a thank-you.

Define clearly what your objective is for your email. We’ll take the reminder as an example. You’ve spoken with a client, and the conversation went well. It’s been longer than necessary for a callback, so you decide to reach out and send a follow-up email.

Your needs are not to congratulate them or request anything; you simply need to remind them about your earlier conversation. Your call-to-action is similar to what you’ve spoken about before. Now that you understand this, it’s time to clarify.

Clarify

The immediate message your client takes from your email shouldn’t be “hey, you forgot about me trying to sell you this.” It has to be something human. It’s difficult, but you have to catch their eye with something emotional, something that makes them want to read more.

Your opening line can be the same as your subject line. It has to hook the reader, make them feel something about your connection (or make them regret not connecting earlier). This can involve some homework.

Involve information from the last time you spoke. You can open with “Remember [topic] we spoke about last week?” or “Congrats on [achievement].” Remember to keep these openers professional. While humor is a good way to connect with people, maintaining a professional air during written correspondence is always in style.

After the opening paragraph (and their hook for caring), you must deliver a clear purpose. Be as straightforward as possible without coming off as rude. For example, instead of stating “I’d like to call you sometime this week,” write “I’d love to chat with you about [topic] we covered last time. How does Wednesday afternoon sound?”

The more concrete you sound, the better. People respond well to clear, concise phrasing, especially if it concerns their finances. No one wants to be confused when it comes to their money.

sending a follow-up email with a cell phone
Bonus tip: if you’re sending emails with your phone, make sure they’re still formatted correctly!

Time

So, now that you’ve defined what your follow-up is for, including the call-to-action, and you’ve drafted an email with a clear purpose, there is one last thing to consider. Before you hit the send button, make sure you have the email timed correctly.

This means to be mindful of the situation you’re responding to. For example, if your purpose is to prompt another conversation, like an interview, you’d likely wait a week or so. Nothing irritates a prospective employer more than constant proddings.

However, if it’s a thank-you note or something similar, that is perfectly acceptable within a 24-hour period. The point is to make sure the email’s purpose aligns with how much time it takes up. If someone just needs to read it quickly and can continue with their day, then a shorter time frame is fine. If your email has more of a time commitment attached (like a new meeting or more tasks), then wait longer to send.

Follow-up emails have major power for your business. If you’re looking to drive up conversion rates, nothing works faster than proper communication. People will not only respect you as a reliable source, but they’ll also trust you with their business, valuing your relationship.

2 Simple Tactics to Build a Solid Customer Relationship

As a freelancer, I have learned over time that the customer connection is your strongest selling point. Therefore, a great relationship can take your career to the next level. For agents, your needs are the same as my own: you want strong, solid customer relationships that bring you sales time after time.

But that’s the issue. It’s hard to cultivate these relationships if you’re coming from the wrong standpoint. Throw away outdated sales tactics like “not taking no for an answer.” From here on out, engagement is your cornerstone.

Engagement Tactic: Communication

Take a solid partnership for instance. You won’t have a successful marriage if you don’t communicate with one another (or at least make it happily). Like any relationship, the one with your customer needs to come from a place of genuine connection.

You can build this connection through email outreach, phone calls, and even texting. Studies show that people connect faster online than ever. So, utilize the technology available to reach out to a wider audience.

a customer relationship built with a woman holding a credit card
It’s easy to convert someone to a sale! Just remember that they’re buying with their heart, not their head.

This emotional attachment will keep your connection strong from typing to talking. When you chat with someone, you don’t just want to go on and on about your business. That’s boring. Engage the customer on their level by listening to them, and responding to their needs.

For example, if you’re building a customer relationship, obviously your sales pitch is going to be a topic at some point. The first point in communication is listening to them, show them you’re human too. This can be as simple as talking about a shared hobby sport, or even volunteer work.

Once you get a customer laughing or sharing a story, you collect on the most precious coin of all: emotion. Engaging in the emotional pull will almost guarantee you a sale.

Engagement Tactic: Reaction

Why do people like playing difficult games? Why did you get into sales in the first place? You wanted a reaction.

People like to be in competition because they get something back. It’s why we play sports, video games, and enter contests. The same tactic can be used in your relationships.

Don’t force your connections into one-sided conversations. You need to ask questions that require more than yes or no answers, then listen (take notes if you have to) and react. People want feedback to their own problems, just make sure your feedback is positive.

Remember, they’re answering the phone, or coming to you with a problem. You have their solution, but it can’t be dressed as a sales pitch. That’s one of the quickest way to lose someone, a fatal mistake. It doesn’t say “hello, I want to help you.” It says, “Give me your money. You’re a number to me.”

That’s the last thing anyone wants, including you.

building a customer relationship through a phone call
Use what you’ve learned! Take the time on your phone calls to connect with someone, even mentioning small human things (like a holiday) can help.

So, to wrap up, engagement is what you’re going for. Connect to someone on a personal level, and find out exactly what problems they’re having. You already have their solution; you just need to show them that you care.

Then, react to them. Ask for feedback on how you handled their case. Show gratitude. Give them a bonus gift. Really, anything can be done here to reinforce the fact that you’re offering a service, not a price tag.

Use these simple tactics for a customer relationship, and watch your sales shoot through the ceiling.

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