Every business has two networks that can be sources of referrals: a customer network, and a network of strategic partners. To maximize your referrals, it’s essential to create procedures and messages to consistently engage both, and to train yourself and your staff to consistently use them. First, let’s look at motivation, then follow-through, then follow-up.
Your customers will be motivated to refer others to you when you wow them with your service. Be remarkable, and they will remark to others about you.
For businesses who also engage your target audience, the motivation comes when your partnership with them adds “value to the relationships they already have with their customers,” according to John Jantsch in The Referral Engine. Figure out a way to do that, and you’ve created a situation where both businesses and the customer all win.
Be sure to tailor referral opportunities to suit the motivations of each customer or partner business. The more you’ve developed relationships with them, paid attention, and recorded what you’ve learned in your CRM system, the better picture you’ll have of those motivations. Without this, your chances of referrals won’t be much better than—well, chance.
If you want referrals from customers, you really need to actually ask for them. The best time to do that is when they have just realized what a great experience it’s been to deal with you.
Jantsch suggests doing regular satisfaction surveys and reviews, with the suggestion to use your referral programs built right into them. You’ll also find out where customers are less than thrilled, so you can make improvements.
If your CRM system shakes hands with a survey tool – which Sage SalesLogix CRM or Sage ACT! 2011 does – you can easily design customized surveys to send at just the right time. Also the use of your CRM system can help to make sure you follow-up with your commitments with those all-important referrals. Don't forget to record their primary interests - just so you never forget!
With strategic partners, a package deal is often an effective referral draw. Less obvious is teaming up to make it easy for your joint customers to get relevant information. If you’re blogging, trade guest posts containing complementary information. Jantsch offers the example of a florist, baker, and DJ writing about weddings. Other businesses might be well-suited to co-brand a white paper or co-produce a webinar.
Measure, analyze, adjust, and repeat. What indicators will tell you whether your referral-generating efforts are working? Set up your system to capture this information. Do more of what is working, and fix the weak spots. Run a report from your CRM system that shows the number of new prospects and clients you have gained from each referral source.
If you are familiar with BNI - Business Networking International there is the VCP process:
Visibility then Creditability then Profitability phases for building a strong referral, trusted network.
Add these fields to your CRM system and start the referral process with progressive improvement steps of your committments.
What are you best using your CRM system to enhance the development of referrals?