Referral opportunities are often missed, usually because they’re abandoned for ‘more important’ tasks. Understandably, remembering to ask for referrals isn’t top of your priority list and working referral calls to action (CTAs) into your regular communication is often overlooked. That’s why I created this blog: How to get referrals.
Because referrals are extremely powerful.
84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral (Source: Influitive) .
However, many IT firms are missing a trick. A small percentage of a firm’s audience, clients, and prospective clients will offer referrals, however, when asked, 83% are happy to give them when they have a positive experience (Source: Nielsen).
What’s stopping you? Adopting the ‘How to get referrals’ action points below could as much as double the number of referrals you’re already getting.
How to get referrals: The two types of referrals
There are two types of referrals your company should be aiming to get:
1. Sales referrals: These are referrals about your paid-for services e.g a client saying…
“We work with ABC IT because they take care of all our IT service needs, you should check them out too.”
2. Lead referrals: These are referrals about non-paid for products or services e.g someone signing up to your newsletter and saying…
“You should check out ABC IT’s weekly market update, it’s really useful, we reference it a lot in our Monday morning meetings. You can sign up here, to get it…”
This week, I’ll cover sales referrals, next time, I’ll go further into lead referrals.
How to get referrals: 4 campaigns for boosting sales referrals
1. Hold a customer-appreciation event
There are a number of ways to leverage these events to win new business referrals. For example, you can invite your clients to bring friends or industry colleagues for free. By asking your clients to invite their peers, you’re starting a conversion about your firm and you’re able to put your services in front of them whilst they’re there.
e.g. Host an exclusive roundtable breakfast event with a coveted guest speaker and get your clients to attend with colleagues.
You don’t have to limit yourself to in-person events, consider holding a customer appreciation event online (such as a webinar), offering something valuable to attendees and their invitees for free. Online events work especially well for businesses with clients who aren’t local and who would otherwise be unable to attend.
2. Team up with complementary businesses
By teaming up with a complimentary (but not competing) business, to create a multi-subscribe offer, you can attract new customers. Offering a bundled service works as a two-way referral process because all the promotion your partner company is doing for your bundled offer will be promoting your services and brand too.
This type of campaign is extremely effective for earning “right fit” referrals because the businesses you partner with will be targeting similar customers to you.
e.g. An IT services company targeting the education sector could partner with a staff training company and offer a IT training course to parents of the school.
3. Run a seminar for related companies
Use the resources and expertise that you already have in-house to run a training seminar for 2-3 complementary companies who have clients that you want to reach. Extend the invitation to their clients and you get referrals, while demonstrating your industry authority and expertise.
The incentive for the other companies to participate in an event like this is that they’ll also get to promote themselves to each other’s clients.
e.g. An IT services firm could offer Cloud for Mac training to advertising agencies, if its target audience was the media and entertainment sector. The IT firm could then invite the advertising agencies to bring their clients to the training seminar.
4. Offer a discount for group sign-ups
This approach is a quick win for IT firms looking to generate ideal new sales leads.
By offering your audience (not current clients) a discount on your services for signing up as a group, you incentivise them to do the selling for you. So, you’re able to effectively reach and sign up new customers who will benefit from your offering by having other people find them for you.
e.g. IT firms with a regular communications mailing list could offer a discounted retainer rate to their list, if they find another company that wants to sign up to a 6 month retainer agreement at the same time.
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New business enquiries vs. Referrals?
There’s no need to choose between the two, in fact, the most successful marketers will know when and how to effectively harness the power of both.
At Propero, we specialise in using integrated marketing methods to win clients (referral and new business) for our clients.
If your marketing team isn’t getting the balance quite right and would benefit from a refresher on new business enquiries, referral generation, or how to integrate the two, we offer onsite marketing training across the UK. You can find more details on what that looks like on our Onsite Training page.
Alternatively, if you don’t have anyone running your marketing or referrals programme but you’d like to get started, email firstname.lastname@example.org.