Where do you start to build your referral marketing system? The easy and obvious answer is with people who know and like you. That starts (usually) with friends and family. It is surprising how many practitioners have not asked anyone even these close relationship people for referrals.
Another group to ask for referrals is current and prior clients. They have something no one else may have; they have first-hand experience working with you. The greatest number of referrals will come from this group. Reason: You have already provided them with excellent service, etc. (If not, fix this problem first!)
Ask for referrals in person and follow-up in writing. When? At your first meeting when excitement is high and positive energy abounds. May be the one of the few times you meet face to face. Shaking hands and looking someone in the eye has tremendous impact. Follow-up with a letter expressing your appreciation for their business and asking if there is anything else you may do for them. Include a request for a testimonial and to be remembered when they see an opportunity to refer you.
Some clients will make multiple referrals. Reward them with something that keeps your name in front of them. You could send them or drop off to them a desk clock with engraved plate or a fine pen set engraved with your firm logo.
Don’t assume that some clients will not or cannot refer, sometimes the clients you least expect end up being the best referral source. Encouraging them with a reward ups you odds for more referrals.
Most professionals are terrible at getting referrals; they seem to have a mental block. There are many reasons why they don’t ask:
- Erroneously believe it is unprofessional, or
- Assume they are so good they don’t need to, or
- Too proud to ask for help, or
- Fear rejection.
Remember: most referral techniques cost little to nothing. Clients already know your ability and like you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Have you ever sent a letter requesting referrals?
- Have you ever asked an old client for a referral?
- Do you have any kind of referral system at present?
- How many referrals have you received in the last 30 days?
- Might clients with tax problems might know others with tax problems?
A man who worked as a steamfitter on a large power project came to me because he had been advised several years earlier to “go exempt” on his earnings from the power project. It turned out that he and several of his follow steamfitters had been convinced that they didn’t have to pay tax on earnings from a government project. They each paid the ”advisor” a fee to file the non-existent paperwork. Now the IRS was after him for a huge sum. After securing his Offer in Compromise, I asked if he knew any of the others who had followed this advice. He called them and referred us resulting in several new cases. Cost of the new business: zero.