The company That Grows Without Advertising
Have you ever noticed the company that never advertises, yet continues to grow? Some companies accomplish so much without spending a dime on advertising. But how do they do it? What’s the trick?
The answer to growing your business without a large advertising budget is referrals. Some businesses build their client base completely through referrals. We have compiled a list of some of most useful tricks for growing your business through referrals and we start with LinkedIn because it is the most successful place on the Internet with which to grow a referral base.
LinkedIn: Professional Referral Powerhouse
The powerhouse of professional networking is LinkedIn. There is no ad in a magazine that can replace the power of connections obtained through LinkedIn. Profiles on many social networking sites are useful, but LinkedIn provides interval success by serving as a platform in sustaining and building business relationships. By building a robust profile in LinkedIn, you build authenticity. By completing your LinkedIn profile, you provide an authoritative resource on your career. It helps you to control your identity online, even in Google. You can control the top results that people see in Google when searching by your name. In most cases, your LinkedIn profile will appear at the top of these search results. So, for this reason alone, you should have a 100% complete profile in LinkedIn.
A 100% complete profile in LinkedIn includes:
- an executive summary and skill set
- a photo
- education history
- three recent positions
- three recommendations from your connections
To get started, click “Edit Profile” from within LinkedIn.
Be more referable.
Sounds simple enough, but not everyone does this. And remember, nobody wants to refer their clients to a company that is non-responsive. It looks bad. So go to work on the customer experience and the transaction that your company provides. Always be extremely responsive to your clients, even if you do not have the answer or solution, respond to the client with “We’re on it” or “We are researching this issue and will keep you informed of our progress towards a resolution”. A quick response to a customer’s question makes a bold statement that your company is eager to please. Customers appreciate that and will tell their friends or family about the pleasant experience that they had with your business.
Make it an expectation.
Make it an expectation that every single one of your customers is going to be a referral source. Start talking about it in the lead conversion process, when you are selling to potential clients. Introduce the idea that “Within 90 days”, for example, “you’re going to be so happy that we are going to ask you to refer three people who need the same positive results from our company.” It;s a great marketing message that “You are going to be thrilled”.
Make it a practice to participate in LinkedIn groups and discussions.
When you join a LinkedIn group, be sure to specify that you want to receive emails from the group. Then, daily, scan those emails and if one of the current discussions is relevant to your skill set, chime in. Keep your comments short and professional. When composing your comments, make it a habit to regularly think in terms of gaining more referrals. Set goals for yourself each week and keep track of the number of referrals that you get.
Be specific when asking for a referral.
Be specific when asking for a referral. And always-remember to ask for referrals. Don’t be shy about it. A good example is, “Our best referral is a small business owner who… ” and ask your customers for three referrals “… so that we can make them a happy client.”
Be consistent when asking for referrals.
Make every client meeting an opportunity to collect referrals, but don’t bee too pushy or obvious.
Offer commissions or referral fees.
Have you ever seen companies that have a page on their site, in a very visible position, that says “Refer a friend and get $100”? Well, it works! Educate clients about your service and how you can help other businesses. And don’t forget to mention that by referring clients to your company, they are paid a referral fee. It’s a win-win for both parties. Reward your referral sources. Keep them informed of the progress and the satisfaction of the person to whom they referred to you.
Happy customers are the best referrals.
Ideal referrals come from happy customers. So make it a habit to over-deliver and your referral base will grow.
Follow up after a sale.
Follow up immediately after meeting a new referral. Ask that referral to personally meet for coffee or write a letter of introduction to begin the relationship.
Most sales people stop at the end of the sales process. They go through the same cycle of prospect, present, close, follow-up. That sales strategy has worked in the past, but to build your company, you need to build relationships and become known as an expert in your field. You need to be known as a person of value. If your customers value the knowledge and expertise you offer to them, then the easier it is going to be for you to maintain a relationship after the sale has been completed.
By making yourself available, you never know when someone will become ready to send you referrals. Remember, a referral is an engagement. It is a partnership and if you keep your customers happy, your referral base will grow. It costs ten times as much to get a new client than it does to get clients from existing customers. So capitalize on the asset of your client base and grow your business.
Don’t forget a thank-you note.
Always thank someone that sends you a referral. A “thank you” note received in a timely manner goes a long way. If someone sends you a referral on Monday, be sure they have the “thank you” note on their desk by Friday. Don’t wait too long or the thank you note will lose its effectiveness.