This is part 9 of our Pandemic Protection Plan series to help you survive, stabilise and strengthen during the Coronavirus crisis.

And we’re very much in the Strengthen stage now and looking at what marketing you can do now to help your business make sales today and also build an income stream for the future.

You can watch our video on referrals here.

One of the best ways of getting new customers is by getting referrals from your current customers or your contacts. But how do you go about that?

How can I get referrals?

Getting referrals is actually one of the oldest ways of marketing, but it’s still such an important way of marketing.

One of the best books I actually read actually on this is a book called The Referral Engine by a guy called John Jantsch, and I absolutely recommend you read that book.

But how do you go about getting referrals? Too many people just wait for them…..but if you want to get more of them, you need to take action and make it happen.

You want to put together a system or process that you can follow to make sure you get a steady stream of referrals, instead of just feeling lucky or grateful when one turns up!

The first thing of this system is to actually make yourself referable!

What do I mean by this? Well, you need to demonstrate that you do a good job and that you’re a leader in your field so that people are confident in referring, or recommending, you to their contacts.

It goes back to my video from a few days ago about thought leadership, but also giving excellent service to your current customers and clients. If you do that, you at least put yourself in a position where they will be happy to refer you.

For contacts who aren’t current customers, thought leadership shows you’re at the front of your field. Also, getting testimonials from current clients so you can demonstrate to contacts that you’re doing a good job.

Now, once you’ve made yourself referable, you can think about how to get referrals.

And the first step is to know who you want to be referred to. It’s much easier to get a referral if you’re crystal clear on who your ideal customers are.

Think about it – if someone’s nipping to the shops and ask if you want anything, saying “get me something for my lunch” is putting the hard work on to them. They need to think about what to get, and then there’s a risk you end up with something you don’t want. Telling them precisely what sandwich to but makes it easier for them, and gets you the lunch you want.

It’s the same with referrals – you don’t want someone making a real effort to find you a customer….and it’s a type you don’t want.

So be specific. Think about the sector, location, and the product or service you’d like them to buy from you. You might even have specific names of your dream customers.

Only once you’ve done this can you then start to really get good referrals on a consistent basis.

So, how do you then get those referrals?

You need to ask!

One of the simplest ways is to just ask. The thing is that a lot of people feel embarrassed about asking people to refer someone to them. But you have to remember that people genuinely do like to help. Often, if you ask somebody, they’ll be willing to help….and very happy to help both you and the person they’re referring.

People do like to make introductions.

So one of the things you can do is add it to the agenda for every meeting you have. It stops you forgetting and, towards the end of the meeting, you just make it clear that you have a business, it grows by referrals, and therefore it’d be really helpful if the person you’re speaking to could perhaps refer somebody who needs your business.

Someone I know actually has a printed list of their “Most Wanted” referrals and hands that over for people to take away!

Give and Get!

Another way of getting referrals is by providing a referral to someone else. Because it’s like everything in this life where, if you do someone a favour, they want to do you a favour back.

There’s actually a big marketing membership organisation called BNI – Business Network International – and its whole ethos is that Givers Gain.

If you help someone, they’re likely to help you. So, if you give a referral to somebody you know, they’re likely to give you a referral back.

When I add Referrals to my agendas, I also ask the person I’m meeting whether there is anyone they’d like a referral to as well. It’s only polite and fair!

Develop your own referral programme

Something a lot of people do is actually to create some kind of referral programme where, if somebody refers a customer to you, you reward them.

That might be in cash or with a gift. Often, a good way of doing this is actually giving a gift to both the referrer and the new customer.

So, for example, Sky TV for years and years and years have had a programme where, if you refer a new customer into Sky TV, they’ll give you an amount – it’s £50 at the moment – but they also give that to the new customer, so everyone is happy.

Share information

A good way to generate referrals is by providing some valuable content that your contacts and customers share with their network.

So, this could be by writing blogs and videos or it could be by arranging an event – for example a seminar or a lunch – and asking your customers to invite along their contacts as well.

This is sometimes an easier task for your contacts – they’re not “selling” you. Instead, they’re inviting people along to a useful event. Or sharing some useful information.

It’s then on you to show their contacts that you’re good and worth buying from.

Reviews and testimonials

Another good way to promote referrals is just ask your current customers for testimonials or reviews. If they’re talking about you and are happy with you, it’s a good time to ask them for a referral to somebody else.

So, if you know you’ve done a good job, or if your customer has thanked you, step one is ask them if they’ll do a testimonial. Step two is to ask them if they know anybody else you can help.

Say Thank You

I think another big one is actually just about thanking people. If somebody gives you a referral, make sure you thank them for it, because this makes them want to do it again.

We don’t have a referral programme ourselves at the moment, but we do make a point of thanking people and sending an unexpected gift.

To wrap up, the key is to make sure you have a process to generate referrals consistently because it’s such a great way of growing your business.

We hope that this series has been helpful so far. Keep checking out our latest blogs and YouTube channel to stay updated.

See you soon.

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Any questions?

If you’d like a meeting or a Skype call to discuss this, please get in touch with your favourite Liverpool accountant