For professional service providers, getting referrals is often the best and quickest way to convert a lead to a customer. The trust that is already built in from a referral source can lessen the selling cycle pretty dramatically. Having said that, it’s important to understand why you may not be getting as many referrals as you could. Here are three myths professional service providers believe about referrals, and how to break through them.
1. Myth One: The best referrals are from clients
We often think of clients as being the best source of referrals, but quite often they’re not. Why? It could be one of a couple of reasons
- If you are working your niche market, then it's doubtful your clients will refer you; as you would likely be servicing their competitors as well.
- When you are right in the middle of working with your clients, they may not want to “share” you for fear they will lose some of your share of mind.
- Your client and former client pool is often far smaller than other possible referral source that may be a better fit. For example, if you are a mortgage broker, a real estate agent is going to be a far better ongoing referral source for you than a homeowner.
Tip: One of the best ways to leverage current clients is to deliver an incredible service and ask them for testimonials!
2. Myth Two: People who like and care about you will send you referrals
While your friends and family certainly want you to succeed, they rarely think of referring you! Sure, perhaps they will remember to recommend you if someone they are speaking with DIRECTLY mentions a need, but those situations tend to be rare. Sometimes, too, people avoid recommending friends and family altogether in the event something goes wrong, then the referring party does not have to deal with any unwanted drama.
Tip: One of the best ways to leverage “friends and family” as a referral source it to make sure you thank and acknowledge them with something special. This behavior will both encourage a repeat performance and may create awareness of other family members (although it could surely backfire, too!)
3. Myth Three: More networking is better networking
You could attend a networking event every day of the week, but that does not mean your referrals will increase. In fact, attending networking events with people who either are not your target customer or have any relation to your target customer is simply a waste of time. Sure, it's great to add people to your network and you make new friends, but if you want to generate referrals, then be sure to do your research on the various groups, events and opportunities out there and only attend functions where you determine quality referral sources will be in attendance. Often, we get stuck going to networking associations because we like the people we’ve met, but they just aren’t in a position to refer you very often.
Tip: Going to fewer organizations and getting a bit more involved has FAR better results (but only if the people there are either IN your specific target audience or have the same specific target audience)
Your single best referral source is most often someone in the same industry, serving the same type of client with an ancillary service to your own. So be strategic about developing those relationships with people you know and trust—and remember:
When you refer people proactively, let people know that you have, and ask for the same, you’ll keep those high quality referrals coming.