Congratulations! Way to Go!

You’ve made it to the home stretch of the PhD in Follow-up course.

If you’ve followed the instructions in Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and Lesson 3, you’ve learned how to network like a pro to generate leads, and how to use effective follow-up to convert those leads into revenue. Hopefully you have received your free sample card from SendOutCards and taken advantage of the free demo to see what a simple, efficient and cost-effective tool sending cards can be for your business and how it’s a fun and easy way to keep in touch with everyone you care about in your personal life too.

 

By now you’ve certainly received your tour of the Shuffle Digital Business Card System. Maybe you’re already experiencing how this success tool helps you stay organized and makes follow-up a snap (or a tap, as the case may be).

So, now, we want to talk about how to use these tools for success to generate referrals from your existing customers and everyone they know.

 


 

Lesson 4: Generating Referrals

Referrals are the most effective form of advertising.
4.1 Referral Sources

When we think of referrals, we often go directly to existing customers – people who have already used our services or purchased our goods – but, referrals can come from many sources.

4.1.1 Friends and family 

This might seem like an obvious option for a referral source but, it’s surprising how many people overlook or underutilize this valuable source. Sometimes it’s simply because they don’t want to make their friends and family feel obligated to purchase directly or pressure them into referring someone. This is a valid concern because when a referral is made under duress, it can end up being a non-productive referral which leads to the probability of you being unsatisfied by the referral or the person who was referred being disappointed by the products or services that were provided because they didn’t meet their expectations; this can lead to animosity toward the friend or family member from you and/or the person they referred. So, it’s great to let everyone know that you have products or services available but it’s recommended that you consider who, in your personal network, has the best exposure to your ideal clients and approach them in a relaxed, no-pressure way to see if they would consider giving you referrals.

Generating referrals from friends or family can be a delicate balance but, if you are clear about who your ideal customer is, friends and family can be great ambassadors for your brand.

4.1.2 Existing Customers

This is an easy-to-use referral source in that your customers are already consuming your goods; they know and like what you offer; they have an understanding of who would benefit from working with you, or who is looking for the products or services you offer right now.

Target your most influential customers

Seek referrals first from your most influential customers, especially if your resources are limited. These might not actually be your best customers, but they are the people whose opinions would carry the most weight with others in your industry, community, or customer base. By targeting these customers, you have a highly focused effort with a better chance of generating the highest quality referrals.

Be prepared to ask for the referral

Some customers will automatically become raving fans for you and your business. You don’t have to ask or offer them anything for this to happen because they want you to succeed. However, this will only occur with a few of your customers and, when it does, make sure you acknowledge and encourage it. With the other 90% of your customers, you will have to ask for the referral. To get things started make sure you have a conversation with your customers about referrals and let them know that most of your business comes from customers, like them, referring you to others.

The best time to ask for a referral is right after someone has complimented your work or spoke highly of their experience with you and your business. Thank them for their praise and mention that you are always looking for new business and that you would appreciate them passing your contact info (your Shuffle Digital Business Card) on to anyone who might be a great fit or who may benefit from the same results they have experienced.

Remember that there are many types of referrals; if your customers are not responsive to offering a referral, ask them to contribute in another way like, writing a review, serving as a case study, or submitting a testimonial.

4.1.3 Other Businesses

Essentially, whenever you have a good experience with a business, you remember them and are happy to tell anyone who might be looking for a similar experience, to check them out. We know that people are more comfortable buying from someone who was recommended to them than they are dealing with a stranger so, when you refer someone to another business, you accomplish two things: You increase the other business’s revenue while solidifying your own credibility by being a knowledgeable source of information.

Some other simple ways to create referral sources from other businesses include:

Create or join a referral network

A referral network is a group of professional colleagues who send you customers, market your skills and engage in helping you to grow your business. These might include small businesses or large corporations and everything in between. Anyone who serves the same target market or ideal client that you do, but offers a different service, product, or program.

Examples of referral network partners

Chiropractors referring ↔ General Practitioners, Massage Therapists, Physio Therapists, Acupuncturists


Home Builders referring ↔ Architects, Interior Designers, Landscapers, Furniture Companies


Real Estate Firms referring ↔ Mortgage Brokers, Insurance Companies, Movers, Renovation Contractors


Website Designers referring ↔ Social Media Managers, Digital Marketing Firms, Advertising Firms


Accountants referring ↔ Bookkeepers, Financial Planners, Attorneys


Car Dealerships referring ↔ Mechanics, Autobody Repair Shops, Automotive Supply Stores, Insurance Companies

Give referrals

The key to getting more referrals is giving…the more you give, the more you receive! 
Offering your referral source a referral they might find useful is a wonderful way to build both relationships. By helping build your source’s business, you create a debt of gratitude that will encourage them to respond in kind and the person you are referring has been relieved of the stress of deciding where to spend their money. 

The most obvious reason for giving referrals is the value it provides to your customers. If you can’t help a customer with a problem by selling them the solution, at least you’re able to give a quality referral. Another simple reason to give referrals is the status it creates for you – people expect you to know your industry and other services in your industry – if you don’t know where they can get something that they expected you to provide, you don’t appear professional. However, if you know exactly where they can get what they need, you look like a true expert.

Offer discount coupons from other businesses in your network.

This is a great option when you haven’t actually used the other business’s products or services. Your referral will be glad to get a discount for something, which makes you more valuable to them, and the other business will get more leads but, if something goes wrong, you were simply the purveyor of a coupon.

Use products from other businesses and encourage them to use yours.

There’s no better advertising than seeing products and services in action. When a Real Estate agent uses a staging company to help sell an empty home, and the staging company uses furniture and decor from a rental company, artwork from a local gallery…Everyone who views the property (not just potential buyers but other realtors, brokers, investors, etc.), is a potential customer for all four businesses.

Word of caution: Your relationships with your current customers are at stake whenever you refer them elsewhere. Make sure you’re sending them to a company as great as yours or they may end up blaming you for their misfortune.


4.1.4 Online

Your digital marketing platforms are excellent sources for referrals.
Think about it; every time someone shares something from your social media page they are putting you and your business in front of every one of their contacts. If their contacts share with everyone on their list…you get the picture! It’s an expanding web of potential customers.

The average social media account has at least 200 followers or contacts. This is why it is vitally important to make sure that what you share on ALL of your online platforms is valuable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your products or services, it just needs to be interesting, entertaining, important, or valuable to others. People love games and competitions, set up a competition that grants the winner a free product or subscription (don’t be stingy, make it substantial) for the most referrals. A request for your contacts to like and share your page works well also; simple and effective as long as your page has valuable information and a clear call to action.

Referral traffic

With Web traffic, a ‘referral’ is like a recommendation from one website to another. Referral traffic can be a strong indicator of which external sources are most valuable in helping your business achieve its goals.

As mentioned previously, social media sharing of your posts and other people sharing your blog or newsletter on their profiles are also forms of referrals. They are exposing your brand to a new audience and advertising their connection to you, your products, or the information you are sharing. Make sharing easy by adding “share this on” links to your blog posts or newsletters so that readers can easily pass it on to their networks. And, always have a link back to your website when you post on your own platforms.


4.1.5 Community

Create a networking club

Make a list of those people in your area who you know to be well-connected and great networkers, then invite them all to come together with one catch – they have to bring someone that they think the rest of the group should meet. It’s likely this person will be a great networker, too. When great networkers get together in the same room, the energy is unmistakable, and they share leads like there’s no tomorrow. Plus, because everyone in the room will be of the same caliber, there will be an even higher propensity to share, because everyone will feel like the giving and receiving is balanced.

The Shuffle App is every networker’s dream. It’s a way to keep track of every person you connect with and organize them into appropriate referral networks based on any number of variables or criterium. You can create a digital card for the different referral network groups to let them know about the relevant products and services you are offering. Change the information as often as you want and automatically send the edited card out to everyone in the group.

Volunteer organizations

Here we go again! When you help others, you help yourself! Volunteering your time and talents to a not-for-profit organization does more than give you a warm feeling in your heart; whenever someone benefits from your contribution, they become an avid referral source. Give your best and follow up with great service and you’ve opened up an entirely new avenue for quality referrals.

4.2 Follow-up

Become so good at follow-up that you explode the number of referrals you receive and loyalty goes through the roof!

You’ve done a great job with generating new prospects and converting those prospects to customers and you’ve set up your follow-up systems so that no one feels left out or neglected but, there’s more to be done if you want to continue to grow your business. If you want to be complacent and content with about 20% of your existing customers, family and friends adding to you customer base then, that’s fine, carry on. Remember, though, a new customer can cost 5 to 7 times more than cultivating referrals from an existing one. And, an existing referral source will often provide your business with more than just one referral. So, just implementing a few simple steps to follow-up with everyone who is already on your radar, can add to your customer base exponentially and keep it on a growth track as new referrals become loyal customers who, in turn, refer more potential customers. This is how the PhD in Follow-up sales cycle works.

Turn your referrals into prospects, prospects into customers and customers into raving fans!

4.2.1 Customer Service

One vital step in maintaining customer satisfaction and generating more referrals is providing outstanding customer service.

Customer Service Tips

When someone contacts you with a question, concern, or complaint, don’t just listen and nod. Make the extra effort to understand and empathize then ensure them that you will do your best to help. Understanding your customers’ needs and wants is what customer service is all about.

We’ve all heard the saying, “the customer is always right” and, while this may not be fact, it’s important to portray the message that we understand why they think they are right; then, respectfully, guide them to the truth.

Nothing leaves a bad taste in a customer’s mouth like unfulfilled promises! We’ve all been there; you find a great deal on a product or service you’ve been coveting and you lay your money down only to find out that that was just an initial payment or that there are hidden costs and fees! Provide what you promise!

While we can’t please all of the people all of the time, we must do everything in our power to ensure the customer experience is handled in such a way that they leave with a positive opinion. Kindness, empathy and respect should be the basis here, even in the face of animosity and rudeness.

This can be as simple as providing an unexpected discount coupon for their next purchase or sending out a card and/or gift to say “thank you and welcome” when they sign a service contract.

When we help others, we help ourselves — Enough said!

Although providing excellent service can involve extra resources, when you get it right, it will enable you to stand out from your competition, maintain a positive reputation among future customers, and encourage existing customers to purchase from your business again. Remember, it is substantially more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer!


4.2.2 Follow-up After the Sale

The period immediately following a sale is what is often called “the honeymoon phase,” there’s a certain level of excitement on both sides. The client has just fulfilled a need or solved a problem and your company has closed a deal.

Many companies drop the ball here, thinking that the sale is made, the customer is happy, on to the next one. However, this is the perfect time to exhibit that outstanding customer service. A high-quality thank-you card delivered to their mailbox will tell the customer that your company goes the extra mile to show appreciation for their customers. This unexpected extra will put you in a perfect position to ask for that referral.

Offer complementary or supporting products

If your customer has purchased a product from you that requires supporting products, include a special offer code for this product in your ‘thank-you for your purchase’ email. For example: A new printer will need ink, offer 3 for the price of 1; the owner of a new outdoor grill might need a set of quality BBQ utensils; offer free maintenance service for the first year after the purchase of a new lawnmower. These simple offerings can have a big impact on a customer’s opinion of your business. At the very least, they’re going to remember you when they are, or someone they know is, looking for products or services you provide.

Provide useful information  

When you contact customers to thank them for their purchase, be sure to include contact information for your customer service department. If that’s you, even better, as this gives it a more personal touch. Just be sure the customer knows you’re there if they have any problems or inquiries.  You can also include links to information that is relevant to their purchase, such as: how-to videos for using their new skill saw; recipes for all the things they can make in their new slow cooker; an article about the best trails in their area where they can ride their new mountain bike.  Again, little things that make a big impact.

Keep customers updated

Use every opportunity to tell your customers about sales, promotions and services you provide but try not to make it sound like a sales pitch; help customers feel that they are receiving preferential treatment and inside information from you; offer loyalty bonuses or discounts on related products that provide them with different or additional benefits; keep them up to date on available upgrades or add-ons for the product they purchased from you; remind them that you’re there if they need you.

The Shuffle App provides you with an excellent tool for keeping customers in the know. You can track which customers have purchased certain products and add them to the group of customers you will send updates to so that everyone has the important information.

4.2.3 Follow-up After the Referral

Send a thank-you card for every referral, and a gift for every referral that turns into business. SendOutCards has you covered with an excellent selection of appreciation cards or you can craft your own. They also have a variety of gifts to choose from for showing that extra level of appreciation.

Use your Shuffle App to keep in contact with your referral partners from other businesses; exchange product and service updates; ask them to provide any promotional material they have, especially discount coupons or vouchers for free stuff!

Let the person who made the referral know the outcome. Knowing this will help them understand the clients that best fit your product or service and make them feel involved in your success. Send out a card to thank them and let them know how successful you have been because they referred business to you. People crave appreciation and praise. Think about the last time you received a heartfelt thank you. Now imagine that sentiment portrayed through a high-quality, personalized, beautifully crafted greeting card that is addressed to you and delivered to your mailbox. Inside is a touching note saying, “I had to send you a great big THANK YOU for helping me surpass my goal of 20K customers! I appreciate everything you do to help my business and, if I can ever reciprocate your generosity, please don’t hesitate to contact me!” Whether it’s a long-term, repeat customer, a member of your referral network, a friend or family member, or a new customer, this little touch will keep them on your advocates list and you top of mind for future referrals.


4.2.4 Follow-up on Social Media

Rapid Response

With social media, the key to successful follow-up is a prompt response. Monitor your pages and activate notifications so you know when interactions are made and then respond immediately. Highlight positive feedback posted about you and respond with gratitude. Give immediate attention to any negative feedback or reviews and be sure to respond publicly to any criticism with understanding and respect. Offer viable solutions and express a sincere desire to resolve the writer’s issues.

Celebrate milestones

Connect with your customers and referral sources on social media and pay attention to what’s happening in their world. Congratulate referral partners on their milestones (number of years in business, awards received, new product launch, etc.). For customers, celebrate the anniversary of their patronage (especially beneficial for major purchases or long-term contracts like buying a home or joining a fitness club). Offering bonuses or free upgrades with your congratulations will help nurture loyalty and promote advocacy. Make these posts on your own profile and tag the referral source. This way, you will draw more traffic to your own page where you will re-direct that traffic to your website and increase your exposure, leads, sales, AND referrals.

For the extra special milestones or to accentuate your sentiment, SendOutCards offers an excellent, tangible way to congratulate your referral sources, that is so easy to use and will put you top of mind every time they come across someone who wants what you have to offer.


4.2.5 Keep track of Referrals

The best way to ensure that loyalty stays strong and the referrals keep rolling in is to stay on top of your referral sources and track the who, what, where, why and how of each referral. When a referral is made, add the information to your CRM or database that explains who made the referral; what product or service they have promoted; where the referral is coming from (relationship to the source and/or geographical location of prospect); why the referral was made (Another business reciprocating your referral. Were incentives involved?); how to contact the new prospect. Add the new referral to your lead list with any information you have about them and be certain to flag them as a referral in order to customize your follow-up to reflect their special status.


GRATITUDE FOR ALL!

A common theme for establishing and maintaining a successful business, and life, is to be grateful. Showing sincere gratitude to your customers, family, friends, referral partners, and the referrals themselves, will let them know that they are appreciated and that you care about them.

Today’s consumers are accustomed to receiving the canned responses or scripted sales pitches. When they connect digitally, they disconnect from sincerity and compassion. Everyone craves appreciation and recognition so make a little effort to display some of both to every interaction and you will not only put a smile on their faces, you will create an emotional connection and build relationships that last.

Gratitude is a tool we can all use to improve our day-to-day existence…The more we focus on what’s right in our lives, the happier we become.

Tools for Success

These proven systems are not only simple, efficient and cost-effective ways to grow your business,
they both offer excellent business opportunities through their outstanding income generating programs.

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