The power of happy customers
Referrals from satisfied customers are an exceptionally effective approach to acquiring more sales opportunities.
Getting a professional introduction from a satisfied customer to a colleague that knows and respects the person introducing you reduces sales cycle times and greatly increases the chances of gaining new business.
The referral could be to someone in another department, a different division, or even an entirely different company. Even when you are referred to someone your contact may not know personally, the odds of securing a meeting are much greater than a cold call. A warm introduction beats a cold one...every time!
Of course, asking a good client to help you needs to be done professionally and tactfully.
Don't fear the referral
When you ask satisfied customers if they wouldn't mind introducing you to a few of their colleagues, you may be pleasantly surprised by their positive reactions. They are generally very eager to help. They like you and appreciate the good work and value you and your company provided.
It's human nature to help someone you like, particularly when asked. Who doesn’t get some satisfaction and good feelings by helping someone else? If you truly believe you have done an excellent job providing superior service and solving their challenges, you’ve earned the right to ask for referrals.
A simple referral framework
Whatever process and tools you use, here is a good general 4-step framework.
- 1Make a list of every customer at existing accounts that you have personally done done a great job for and earned the right to ask for references.
- 2Determine which other divisions, departments, and people at those accounts might have an interest in your products and services.
- 3Make it easy, professional, and fast for your happy customer to introduce you to your targeted contacts.
- 4Follow up with each new contact to develop a professional and mutually beneficial relationship.
If you do these 4 steps, it should lead to new sales in the future. To help you get started, Innovo developed a Sales Referral Toolkit that includes a Sales Account Growth Map, effective word tracks for requesting referrals, and email templates for outreach and follow up.
What if they agree to refer you, but haven't yet?
The approach we outlined will work. However, be prepared to manage a few obstacles.
You may not immediately see emails to the referrals that your happy customer said they would send. Don’t worry, everyone is busy and they may not have gotten to it yet.
If it’s been more than a week since your happy customer received your email with the copy and paste template, though, call or email them, and simply ask them if they received the information.
They might say they have been too busy, or are planning on sending them this week. Of course, you will want to reply to this. When replying by email, include the information from the original email. They may have misplaced it or can’t easily find it in their email box.
Your happy customer wants to help you, but they also don’t want to work too hard to do it!
The key is to make it easy and convenient, follow up provisionally, and you will see results over time.
FREE Sales Referral Toolkit
Innovo created a set of easy-to-use tools to help guide you through the referral process
- Sales Account Growth Map
- An effective word track that is used to request and receive a thumbs up from your existing happy customer to refer you to a few peers.
- An email template that you send your happy customer to copy, paste, and send to the referrals.