Recommendations are crucial for your Business

The business world is moving quickly and taking a quantum leap. Business models that worked in the past are less effective today. Previously we invested lots of money in multiple channels to reach the customer, which delivered fairly good results. Today these channels are becoming more expensive and we need to spend more if we would like to reap the same results as in the past.

Marketing budgets are not always increasing so we need to find new ways or revamp old ways to connect with our customers and prospects. One of the ways that is getting a lot of attention is existing customers referring people who may be interested in our services or giving a recommendation.

Many sales people are not at ease with asking a customer for a referral. Certainly not when they just bought a product or a service. What stands in the way is limiting convictions such as "The customer just made a purchase so I cannot ask him for a referral, it is not decent." Or "I am not used to asking for recommendations; it's just not something I would do." Or "You can only ask for referrals after the customer knows he is super happy with our products or service."

So the first thing to work on is eliminating limiting beliefs. That's not easy. Our behaviour stems from our convictions, values, education, etc. You can attend fifty training sessions on obtaining referrals, but not much will happen if these convictions remain. But how do you get rid of them?

One pathway is to ask yourself what the impact will be on your business if you do not ask for a recommendation. In others words, if you do not change your behaviour where will it bring you in the end?

I urge you all to perform this exercise also for the other parts of your life that you would like to change. In the case of referrals, the answer is easy. Your business will decline and get stuck like a boat in a river without water. This decline will most often be silent and go unnoticed until the day it really strikes you.

Doing this exercise, we develop a sense of urgency that is needed to move forward. Once you take accountability for this matter, you need to figure out the how: how to get referrals.

Personally, I believe that we need to prime the mind of our customers by stating that a big part of our business is brought to us by our satisfied customers. As I am a big believer in trust, you can only use this technique if it really is the way that you get referrals. Telling fake stories will not work because your customer will quickly realise it. You need to be authentic..

How do we ask for a referral?

Once you have closed the deal, ask your customer if you may ask him some marketing survey questions to help your company achieve its mission, delivering outstanding quality on all fronts. Making this request will be much easier if you have delivered a top sales visit, so you need to walk the talk. In other words, you need to reflect a high standard of quality to be credible.

People are much more willing to answer survey questions. Questions such as "What are your suggestions for optimising what we are doing today?”, “What is your feedback, we would love to hear it?", "Is everything crystal clear now?” or “Can I help you with something else?"

Ask your customer the following question: "Dear Mr. or Mrs., would you be willing to help me out?" Most of them will say yes because it is human nature to help people, it makes us feel good. Then explain what you are doing in your territory (starting up, growing, expanding, etc.) and what exactly you are looking for so that the customer does not need to dream up what you really want as a referral.

The clearer the picture is, the easier it will be for your customers to refer friends that are confronted with the problem and are looking for the solutions that you can offer in a state of the art manner.

Once you have asked the question, leave some time for your customer to reflect. Use the famous silence technique. In other words, shut up and listen. This is very difficult for most sales people.

Sometimes it is highly recommended to show what you are looking for. Show pictures, videos or other materials that reflect exactly what you want as a referral. The mind is highly visual and we need to put mental post-its in the minds of our customers. When you are showing the pictures of a situation please tell a story about that customer. What was his situation, what were the problems, how did this impact his life and state the solution to his problems and the way he felt about it afterwards. Create positive vibes for your solution.

Tell your customers that the referrals they provide will receive a free demo, free advice, free situational analysis that has some serious value to them, without any obligations. Doing this will make them even more motivated to give you names.

The fact that you state "without any obligation" will also help you to get more referrals, because some people are going to be afraid that you will push to make a sale, which could impact their good relationship with their family or friends. So again, if you demonstrate a highly professional approach, you will pave the way for more referrals. You will reap what you sow, so sow in a state of the art manner from the beginning till the end. Set yourself aside from the pack. Demonstrate top level attention and care.

Another way to get a referral is to knock on the neighbours’ doors and explain to them what you are going to do in the coming weeks so that they are not surprised one day to hear a lot of drilling or other noises. Doing this shows respect for people, which everybody likes. Meanwhile, leave flyers, etc. about who you are and what you do. This will get their attention and make them remember –and recommend- you.

If you have other suggestions, please feel free to email me or call me on 0475 48 81 26.

Wishing you all great success,

Alexander Nijs TC3

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