Referrals create sales because they build trust. People are much more likely to respond to a friend's recommendation than to advertising. If that friend had a good experience with your company, prospects are more likely to expect the same satisfaction.
The strength of a referral
Without a referral, you're still an unknown. Referrals are a shortcut to consumer confidence vs the uncertainty of marketing funnels. Referred prospects move through your sales process faster, whether it's a hot consumer product or a vital B2B offering such as a business loan alternative. The better your relationship with the referring customer is, the more enthusiastic the referral will be.
When to ask for referrals
Many salespeople are hesitant about asking even happy customers to provide referrals. They're afraid of endangering the relationship or may not know how to ask in the right way. Others might ask too aggressively so that the request is uncomfortable for the customer.
Here are six ways to make asking for referrals easier:
1. Good timing: When you can see that the customer is pleased with your product or service, suggest that they recommend you to others.
2. Be gentle: Don't over stress the request. You are asking for the customer's help, and many happy clients will be glad to do it for just that reason.
3. Keep it simple: Don't ask questions like, "Do you have a friend that could use our services?" which is liable to get an automatic "no".. Don't expect the client to jump through hoops providing you leads. Prepare a brief, simple description of what you'd like them to do.
4. Use social media: Platforms like LinkedIn are there to help companies make connections. Check out your past clients and see if their online associates fit your target market. If so, ask for a referral.
5. Link to the referral: Ask the customer if you can use their name, for example: "Hello, I'm reaching out to you because Helen W. thought you might be interested in a merchant cash advance ..." Better yet, ask Helen to contact Pete on your behalf if you've made a strong connection with Helen.
6. Be grateful. The customer has done you a favor, and to preserve the relationship you should show gratitude. Send them a quick thank you or small reward such as a gift card or coupon.
Even with a strong referral, there's no guarantees. Qualify these leads like any other so that you don't waste time where there's no sale. Remember that developing leads is about building positive relationships, not making a quick buck.
If you're a sales professional who'd like to be part of a team that knows how to develop relationships, consider the merchant cash advance business. At Everest Business Funding, we make it our mission to extend alternative financing to business owners and entrepreneurs. We're always looking for team players to bring new customers into our business loan alternative process.