Do you have a sales strategy to capture all your referral business?
With a follow up system in place, you’ll know exactly when and how to ask your clients for referrals and actually get them. Because if you’re only asking clients for a review once after your sale and never again, you’re not tapping into this massive sales and growth engine. And unfortunately, it’s costing you serious revenue.
Why Most Salespeople Fail At Referral Marketing
Stats show 91% of customers want to give a referral, but only 11% of salespeople ask for them. That’s because most salespeople are too worried about closing the deal to also ask for a referral on top of that. And even if you do manage to ask for one, you probably feel awkward about asking for one again if your clients fail to deliver the first time. But salespeople who actively seek out referrals earn four to five times more than those who don’t explore this market. And nearly 50% of top sales performers ask for referrals consistently — with only 26% of non-top performers taking on this task. Businesses using referrals bump their conversion rate up to 70% and have a 66% faster close time because referrals build immediate trust with customers.
This concept of “borrowed trust” means:
- 92% of buyers trust referrals from people they know
- 84% of consumers believe recommendations over other forms of marketing
- 9 in 10 buying decisions are made using peer recommendations
- 28% of millennials admit they won’t try a product if their friends don’t give it a thumbs up first
Since this warm lead costs almost nothing to acquire, every sales strategy needs a successful inbound referral plan to grow — no matter which industry, location, or market you’re selling in.
The Follow Up Sales Strategy To Flood Referrals Your Way
When you have a list of contacts to ask for referrals, you’ll follow a simple blueprint:
- Ask for a referral at the right time.
- Anticipate your contact stalling.
- Keep asking and following up for that referral.
- Thank your contact when the referral turns into a sale.
- Tweak, perfect, and repeat.
Sure, that seems easy enough in theory. Now here’s how you’ll get that plan to work in the real world:
1. Commit to Asking For One Referral Every Day
You’re already prospecting every day so asking for just one referral shouldn’t be overwhelming. After today you’ll have a follow up sales strategy to bring in referrals like an automated machine so this process will take half the time it currently does. If you snag one new client every week, that’s 52 warm leads in one year. Grab one each day for a year and that’s over 250! But which contacts you reach out to all depend on timing.
2. Time Your Ask Right and Create A Follow Up Schedule
Referrals, just like sales, need to be primed and timed correctly. And it also takes a ton of confidence and persistence. Here’s how a typical referral ask timeline should go:
- Make first contact during the honeymoon phase, or the time your client is most happy with your product or service. This could be right after a sale, experience, or new product promotion. These times work well because your contacts are still thinking about you and they’re happy with the way you solved their problem. So send a thank you message to your clients and ask for your first referral no more than three days after this positive interaction.
- Check in one week later to see how everything is going with your product/service and answer any questions. Ask again for your referral if you haven’t received one or thank them for the one they did send over.
- Keep communicating to deepen the relationships with your contacts. Reach out at least every other month to stay top of mind.
Ask your clients if they’d like to be included in your email marketing to receive all your newsletters and regular content, which will also position you as an authority figure easily worth referring. Now, the term “referral” can encompass a wide scope of word-of-mouth type marketing. But many of your customers will be confused when you ask them for a referral so it’s important to spell out exactly what you’re expecting.
3. Get Specific About What You Want
Referrals come in many different forms but should all contain one vital piece of information: to personally vouch for your ability to solve a problem as you promised. Types of referrals you can ask for include a/an:
- Introduction or reference to someone in your client’s network who may be in need of your product or service.
- Online review or testimonial to show future customers you can be trusted to deliver what you say.
- Case study, which demonstrates exactly how you helped your client solve a specific, measurable problem.
- Social media post, which is an easy way to share info about your work with a wider audience.
In each case, you’ll want to give your clients all the details you need so they can fill in the blanks instead of being too overwhelmed by the task.
4. Give Your Clients A Cheatsheet
To give your clients an idea of what you’re looking for, drop a link with a preview for an example you want them to follow. If you want an actual introduction, let them know exactly the type of prospects you’re looking for (job titles, industry, problems, etc.) so they can match them up with the people they know. And if you want a formal review, a template works really well for everyone short on time. Simply create an email for your contact to send to their referral with blanks they can type in.
5. Take Advantage Of Email Templates
There’s no reason to waste brainpower on these repetitive emails or copy and paste your ready-to-go responses. Create templates for each stage of your referral follow up program just like you would with your normal sales funnel. Set up an automated drip email campaign in your CRM to trigger a series of messages for the clients you’re seeking referrals from. Remember to always ask a few questions as emails with one to three questions have a 50% higher chance of being replied to than those without.
Here are a few you may want to close your email with:
- How happy are you with our product/service? Are you happy you chose it/us?
- Do you have any questions?
- Who else do you know who may benefit from the solution we provided?
- Which of your network connections is in a similar position and could use my help?
Of course, none of this will be possible without a robust CRM in your corner.
6. Upgrade Your CRM
Your CRM will help you maintain a consistent follow up schedule with your contacts. A crummy CRM will only slow you down and ruin all your epic sales efficiency skills.
So look for a CRM that:
- Both emails and texts your clients
- Shows you which leads have been inactive by marking your last contact date
- Alerts you when recipients open your emails or click any of the links
- Allows you to segment your lists of contacts and track their referrals
Another way to stay on top of your referrals is by using lead tracking.
7. Practice Lead Tracking
Each of your contacts knows one good referral for your business. Consider this a warm lead. Now you’ll want to monitor your follow up efforts to make sure your lead nurturing is going according to schedule. Lead tracking saves you time and money by showing you key performance indicators of your referral marketing strategy. So when you learn how to track your leads like a pro, you’ll be able to organize your referrals based on their:
- Referral source
- Referral quality
- Lifecycle stage
- Number of touches
Monitoring these stats will improve your outreach efforts and guarantees you nurture leads the right way. It will also help you follow up after that referral turns into a sale.
8. Show Your Appreciation
Though people refer more out of wanting to help both you and their contact, you can offer a small token of appreciation for their effort — especially if their referral turns into a sale for you. Anytime one of your contacts follows through with a referral, send them a handwritten note to thank them. If their referral becomes a client, a gesture of appreciation in addition to that thank you note may include:
- A piece of free, exclusive content they’d enjoy
- An invitation to coffee, lunch, or happy hour on you
- A free product or discounted fee/subscription for your service
You may also consider creating a referral incentive program for your contacts, which may offer them the chance to enter a drawing for larger prizes like gift cards for local business, vacations, or event tickets (sports, music, etc.) if they continue to refer business your way. Touch base with these active referral contacts at least once every other month. And don’t forget to leave reviews and refer clients to your contacts too! This mutually beneficial relationship will help you earn referrals now and throughout your career – – especially if your leads become customers for your clients.
You’ll Never Lose Sale For Asking For A Referral; But You Can Lose Business If You Don’t Ask for One
Since referrals are so awesome for your business, you need a post-sales strategy to follow up and ask for them. The more people you reach out to, the more referrals you’ll open yourself up for. And these warm leads will be the secret to increasing your revenue and growing your brand awareness without spending much time or money to do so. So start by upgrading your CRM to handle all the steps we discussed today and you’ll be ready unlock all your referral sales in no time.
Dave Lawrence is the Head of Growth at Follow Up Boss, a CRM for real estate teams. In his role he spends his time ‘under the hood’ of many of the top performing real estate sales teams in North America, helping them leverage technology and process to become more effective at delivering value and service to their clients.