Five Techniques for Generating Referrals
Who is a referral source? Anyone. Every past and current client, every staff member, every friend, relative and social contact, every professional and supplier… is a potential referral source. How do you foster referrals from all of these potential sources?
Because referral sources are essentially representing you, they need to know what you do and how to recognize a need for you in others. This has two parts: the problems you solve and the ways you solve them.
This can be done by putting referral sources on your mailing list, and sending them information relevant to your firm. If they work for you, try to create opportunities where people can explain to each other what they’re doing. And outside of the office, don’t be shy about sharing what you do.
2. Say, “Thank You” for referrals.
It sounds simple, but we often forget. Call or write whichever seems appropriate at the time. Acknowledging referrals builds relationships, gives you an opportunity to update people about changes in the firm and reminds them that you believe you can really help the person they’ve referred. “Thank you” says you care.
3. Response Cards
With every survey, every bulletin, every announcement of an event, enclose a response card that offers other information and services and that asks, “Who else should receive this information?” Even if the recipients don’t return the card, it communicates the other areas you handle and reminds them to refer a friend or associate that needs your services.
Referral is often an underutilized method of marketing for an important reason. People are uncomfortable asking for referrals. This is where bulletins and seminars can help. One of the major advantages of newsletters or other written communication is the ability, in a low-key manner, to ask for referrals. The question to ask is, “Is there anyone you know who might be interested in our bulletin….or Is there anyone you know who might be interested in receiving an invitation to a seminar on…?” Offering information is a legitimate and helpful way to remind clients and referral sources that referral is one of the things that they can do to help people they know.
5. Don’t Forget Your Staff, your friends and acquaintances.
Your receptionist has friends, too. Does your staff know what you do and how to talk about it? Are they proud of your firm? Do they offer a bulletin, newsletter, or firm profile to everyone who walks in the door? Do they know your firm’s mission and you’re positioning strategy? They should. We sometimes don’t tell others what we do because we assume they know. They don’t. In talking with friends and acquaintances, if they ask what you do answer briefly-then send them a firm profile with a personal note. It lets them know you’re thinking about them, and tells them more about your firm.