[IMGCAP(1)] When was the last time you got a referral from an existing client? Last week, last month, last quarter or last year? Most partners that I work with get a handful of these kinds of referrals a year. These kinds of referrals are usually among the best kind of referrals you can receive because there is pre-established trust, no competition, no proposal, and its a quick and painless sales process. So, if these are the best kind of referrals to get, what are you doing to get more of them?
Some would say that the referrals will come when they come do great work and your clients will refer you when they have an opportunity. But what if you could implement a process that would increase the flow of these types of high-quality referrals from clients? Heres a great process that should put you on track to get more of those highly coveted client referrals.
Your Process for Success
Step 1: Do truly excellent work, worthy of a referral. It takes more than just good work to get a referral. Provide excellent value in your services, understand and exceed client expectations, be proactive with ideas, be highly responsive to inquiries, build a strong relationship, and communicate effectively. If you dont succeed at this step, there is no sense in going any further. For more on how to do truly excellent work, worthy of a referral read The Ultimate Question, by Fred Reichheld.
Step 2: Educate your client on the types of referrals and introductions you seek. How many crappy referrals do you get every year from clients who thought they were doing you a favor by referring you a $200 1040? The fact is, if you get those kinds of referrals it is your fault you have not effectively educated your clients on what types of referrals you desire. So, heres an example of a specific and effective phrase that will educate your clients on precisely how they can help you:
Im looking to grow my practice and have a passion for and expertise in working with business owners of $5 to 20 million closely held distribution companies do you know anyone who I should meet, or can you introduce me to a contact of yours who runs in these circles?
Step 3: Ask for referrals after delivery of a successful engagement, particularly any engagement where you delivered value in excess of your fee. This is the key, right here. This is the BEST time to ask for a referral. If youve done great work, first of all remind the client that youve done great work. Then, ask for a favor or their help. Most people want to help others, especially a client for whom youve just delivered great results. Try this:
Can you help me out? I hope youve felt like you have received excellent value and great results out of the cost segregation project I just completed for you. To that end, I would truly welcome an introduction to someone else I might be able to help in a similar way. Do you know of any other specialty manufacturers or distributors who have recently done a significant renovation, retrofitting of an existing building, or construction of a new facility?
Step 4: Treat the referral like a golden egg and find a way to reciprocate. Dont let this referral fall through the cracks or you may never get another referral from that client again. Make sure to over-thank your client. If appropriate, let them know how it is going with the person they referred you to. And finally, if appropriate, make sure to reciprocate. If you dont have a potential client for them, make introductions to possible good referral sources for them who are within your network, or send them tickets to a sporting event, or a nice dinner out with their spouse.
Step 5: Repeat. If you make a habit of asking your clients for referrals after delivery of every successful project, you will get more referrals.And, dont be afraid to circle back with those who havent produced a referral and ask them if they could introduce you to anybody that could help you build your network. Trust me, no matter how great your client is, they dont wake up in the morning wondering what they can do to help you you have to initiate this conversation.
I remember the first time I got a referral from an existing client who was highly satisfied with a project I did for them. It felt like a freebee. It was as if the pizza delivery man from Calo Restaurant showed up at my door with a free pie with my favorite ingredients (cheese, sausage, pepperoni, and onions). So what I do now? I dazzle my clients to the best of my ability deliver excellent results - and then I ask for their help.
Art Kuesel is a director of consulting services for PDI Global, Inc. and works exclusively with CPA, law, and financial services firms across the country meeting their most significant marketing and business development challenges. He currently works one-on one with more than 30 CPA firm partners in a coaching capacity helping them build, sustain, and enhance their personal marketing efforts. He also enjoys gourmet cooking and travel with his wife, Colleen. Art can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-245-1745.