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Handle Business Referrals like a Boss

How do you grow your business?  Surely sales and marketing comes to mind but this week, our team at Alphagraphics STL wanted to explore business referrals and its effects on area businesses. St. Louis is sometimes called a “networking town” because many businesses rely heavily on referral sales, and business owners use their connections to grow. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a standard process in place that effectively responds to and encourages business referrals. Here are some tips about generating referrals, responding effectively, and passing referrals to others. 


Ask and you shall receive:
Encourage business referrals from your current happy customers. It is ok to ask and remind your clients to share your information with folks they know who may need similar services. A non-salesy way to do this is to add a line as part of your email signature.
Another way to encourage referrals is to reward your customers with a small discount or gift when a referral they make results in a sale for you.
Be who you are:
An ideal situation is for your customers to love your service or product so much that they naturally tell others about you. This is best achieved when customers are very clear on what you do and why you do it. When you clearly communicate who you are, customers become raving fans, not just clients.
[caption id="attachment_470" align="aligncenter" width="775"] Grow your business network.[/caption] RESPONDING TO BUSINESS REFERRALS: Do you have a process for responding effectively to business referrals? Knowing exactly how you want to respond makes it easier to respond well when you do receive a referral. Here are a few ideas.
Send your thanks:
By having a predetermined way to thank the new client for their business, you can easily and quickly show your gratitude. This can be as simple as having printed cards to send out after each new sale.
Don’t ignore the hand that feeds you:
When someone trusts you enough to give your name to a family member, coworker, client or friend, make sure you thank them as well! Informing them that their referral turned into business for you reassures them about their decision to share your information. A personal email, handwritten thank you or even a small gift would be a wonderful way to communicate your appreciation.
Follow up:
Now that you have received a new client, make sure you add them to your marketing list to periodically reach out via your established marketing channels. This is important to continue nurturing the new relationship you have with that person.
You can pass the potatoes, or pass a football, but can you pass a referral? [caption id="attachment_467" align="alignleft" width="300"] Generate referrals for business associates.[/caption] The saying “what goes around, comes around” is a great principle for referral business. Ivan Misner, the Founder of Business Network International, has a great podcast in which he describes a method he used to generate referrals for his business associates. These people, in turn, would also send business referrals to him. Every 6 months or so, Dr. Misner says he would send out a mailed letter (although email could work equally as well) to all of his clients and business contacts. In this letter, he would explain the importance he places on developing a business community and passing business referrals. Next, he would list industries or services he had good connections in and could make a quality referral. Then he would close by encouraging the reader to reach out should they ever have a need for a service listed. If he received such a phone call, he would gladly connect that person to the service provider requested. Dr. Misner reports that this practice put him in the center of his own strong network, offered value to his connections and kept him top-of-mind in his network.
Benefits of doing this run deep, though they may not be obvious at first glance.
[caption id="attachment_473" align="alignright" width="775"] Add value to your customers.[/caption]
Adding value to your customers:
A local mortgage broker helps his new clients every time he closes a new mortgage. When the clients are signing all the final paperwork, the mortgage broker includes a sheet of referrals for people who can assist them with the new house. Everything from lawn care to renovation services are included and this is of great value to his clients who may be new to the area or run into a problem with their home down the line that they need help with. It is the perfect opportunity to serve both the clients and his business associates.
Become the “go-to” for your customers and business associates:
There is very well-networked business man in St. Louis, who seems to know everyone. If there is any one you want to meet, or any type of service you need, chances are this guy can help you out. He has created a solid network of people who know he can help with whatever they need. Such a network is great for his business as well, because people frequently think of him and remember to ask him for help. Most importantly, they frequently send his business referrals.
What goes around, comes around:
Being top-of-mind help cement your relationships with customers and other people in business. When people remember you often, and remember how you’ve helped them, they are more likely to either patronize your business themselves or refer someone they know to you.  

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