The company that grows without advertising
Have you ever noticed the company that never advertises, but continues to grow? Some companies achieve 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 huge advertising budget is referrals. Some companies build their customer base completely through referrals. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most helpful tricks to grow your business through referrals and we’re starting with LinkedIn because it’s the most successful place on the internet to grow a referral base.
LinkedIn: Professional Referral Source
The nerve center of professional networking is LinkedIn. There is no magazine ad that can replace the power of connections gained through LinkedIn. Profiles on many social networking sites are helpful, but LinkedIn provides intermittent success by serving as a platform for maintaining and building business relationships. By building a strong profile on LinkedIn, you build authenticity. By completing your LinkedIn profile, you provide an authoritative resource on your career. It helps you control your identity online, even on Google. You can control the top results that people see on Google when they search for 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 on LinkedIn.
That is how…
A 100% complete LinkedIn profile includes:
- an executive summary and skill set
- has a photo
- educational history
- three recent positions
- three recommendations from your contacts
To get started, click “Edit Profile” from LinkedIn.
Be more referable.
It sounds simple enough, but not everyone does this. And remember, no one wants to refer their customers to a company that is unresponsive. looks bad. So get to work on the customer experience and the transaction that your company offers. Always be extremely responsive to your customers, even if you don’t have the answer or solution, reply to the customer with “We’re on it” or “We’re looking into this issue and will keep you updated on our progress towards a resolution.” . A quick response to a customer’s question is a bold statement that your company is eager to please. Customers appreciate that and will tell their friends or family about the great experience they had with your business.
Let it be an expectation.
Make it an expectation that each of your customers is a source of referral. Start talking about it in the lead conversion process, when you’re selling to leads. Introduce the idea that “90 days from now,” for example, “You’ll be so happy we’ll ask you to refer three people who need the same positive results from our company.” It’s a great marketing message that “You’re going to be excited.”
Get in the habit of participating 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, every day, scan those emails, and if one of the current discussions is relevant to your skill set, get involved. Keep your comments short and professional. As you write your reviews, get in the habit of regularly thinking in terms of getting more referrals. Set goals for yourself each week and track how many referrals you get.
Be specific when asking for a reference.
Be specific when asking for a reference. And always remember to ask for references. Don’t be shy about it. A good example is: “Our best reference is a small business owner who…” and ask your customers for three references “…so we can turn them into happy customers.”
Be consistent when asking for references.
Make every meeting with a client an opportunity to collect references, but don’t be too pushy or too obvious.
Offer commissions or referral fees.
Have you ever seen companies that have a page on their site, in a highly visible position, that says “Refer a friend and get $100”? Well it works! Educate customers about your service and how you can help other businesses. And don’t forget to mention that when you refer customers to your company, they get paid a referral fee. It is a win-win for both parties. Reward your referral sources. Keep them informed of the progress and satisfaction of the person they referred.
Happy clients are the best references.
Ideal referrals come from satisfied customers. So get in the habit of over-delivering and your referral base will grow.
Follow up after a sale.
Follow up immediately after meeting a new referral. Ask that reference to meet you in person for coffee or write a cover letter to start the relationship.
Most salespeople 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 business, 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 experience you offer them, then it will be easier for you to maintain a relationship after the sale is complete.
By being available, you never know when someone will be ready to send you referrals. Remember, a referral is a commitment. It’s a partnership and if you keep your customers happy, your referral base will grow. It costs ten times more to get a new customer than it does to get customers from existing customers. So leverage the assets of your customer base and grow your business.
Don’t forget a thank you note.
Always thank someone who 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, make sure you have the “thank you” note on your desk by Friday. Don’t wait too long or the thank you note will lose its effectiveness.