Often when selling we avoid asking for referrals because it may feel awkward. Sometimes we just don’t know how to ask. It is widely known that referrals provide the greatest sales leads as they are usually invited by an already happy customer, therefore it is worth overcoming your your phobia of this to start encouraging satisfied customers for accelerated sales growth.
Here are some tips to get you started:
When to Ask:
Obviously, you should never ask for a referral before you have completed your service well for your customer. Look for “ideal opportunities” when you can sense your customer is most pleased with the service they have received, for example immediately after a customer has thanked you for your work. At this moment, your enquiry about their satisfaction is both natural and appropriate. The other prime opportunity is anytime a customer pays you a compliment. When the referral wording has already been delivered, you just need to ask him or her to share that insight for the benefit of others who may also benefit from your services.
How to Ask:
All sales people will need to be doing this regularly with all their customers. To progress this further you could recruit leaders in your own team and company structure to reach out and to customers to ensure they are always happy and feel they are being dealt with appropriately. This professionalism can then lead on to you requesting that your customers provide recommendations on online platforms for instance LinkedIn. This should be made an integral part of your normal post-delivery sales cycle and integrate it into your overall sales strategy.
When you request the recommendation try your best to make it a “matter-of-fact” manner. There is no need to feel awkward or embarrassed. Most customers will understand that you want your business to grow and will often be happy to help. If you are asking at the ideal time it will make the request feel more like a natural consequence and part of the overall process.
Who to Ask:
Build a short list of your most satisfied and longest standing customers in your pipeline and start there. Launching your referral acquisition effort with customers who are loyal to you, your company and your product will make the effort much easier, and will build your confidence to move outward and request the same from other customers.
Within the customer organization, it is usually best practice and appropriate to ask directly the individual with whom you worked most closely throughout the implementation of your product or service. However, should there also be someone within the company who you also have good rapport with who is a higher level or even from another department you can also grasp the moment to ask him or her to share their opinion.
Remember that while outstanding products, services or customer service build strong ground for receiving referrals, they are by no means a guarantee you will receive them. The only certain way to get your customers to actively refer future business to you is to ask them to!