by: Finella Kristle Panlilio
Thursday, April 14, 2016 |
Most professional services firms get leads and new business from referrals. In fact, in a study conducted by Hinge Marketing, generating referrals ranked highest in terms of current marketing priorities. However, many struggle with generating referrals consistently.
In a blog post on Social Media Today, Hinge Marketing shares its favorite research-backed tips to ensure your business keeps the referrals coming.
1. Stop asking for referrals.
Asking clients and fellow professionals for referrals doesn’t always work, simply because it doesn’t necessarily benefit both parties. Making a referral constitutes a risk in the referrer’s reputation. Furthermore, asking for referrals from clients causes them to view you as a “salesperson” rather than a trusted service provider dedicated to their interest.
So how else can you generate a steady stream of sales referrals if you can’t ask? The good news is that more than 80% of firms actually get referrals from people they’ve not worked with or even met.
2. Share your expertise at industry events.
Speaking engagements are a top source of referrals. Not only does it boost your visibility as an expert, some attendees may even approach you directly and make a referral themselves based on what they’ve learned from you.
3. Write educational articles and blog posts.
Educating in the form of articles and blog posts targeting your prospective clients is another way to get non-clients to make referrals. It is also important to release articles in publications read by your target audience and their influencers for maximum effect.
4. Give more referrals to receive more referrals.
People often make a referral to a firm that sent a referral their way. But before investing your time, resources, or reputation, make sure that you are in a position to give a lot of referrals to someone who can make the appropriate referrals to you.
5. Deepen social relationships with selected referral sources.
Clients or fellow professionals familiar with your expertise are the ones more likely to be your sources for referrals. So, start building relationships with those individuals who both know your expertise and are in a position to make referrals to you.
6. Conduct an industry-leading research study.
Make people see you as a thought leader. This can be done by conducting research studies that address pressing industry issues. Well-publicized researches can also attract new referrals.
7. Promote the successes of clients.
Showcasing the clients you serve and the results that you produce, while being mindful of disclosure limitations, is one of the best ways to make your expertise known. You can avoid such limitations by inviting your client to speak at a conference where your partnership is described by the client. Such events are a win-win situation for you and your client - while they gain exposure, you gain credibility and referrals. Promoting the successes of your high-profile clients in an article or a case study or nominating them for a prestigious award may lead to potential clients asking your client about you, and eventually turn into referrals.
8. Avoid untargeted networking.
To avoid wasting time and resources on a networking event, make sure it's attended by your target audience, especially if you're one of the guest speakers. Remember tip #2?
9. Be clear about how you can help potential clients.
Once you get a referral, immediately start a conversation with them. In all your communication channels, it's important to let your prospective client know from the get-go what your company is all about and what you can do for them. For professional services, the first stop is usually the website. So make sure the language you're using on your site is what your target audience is used to and would easily understand.
10. Educate rather than sell.
The last thing clients want to hear is your sales pitch. They want information. Invest time and resources in creating quality educational content for articles, webinars or white papers. Not only does it help you generate new referrals, it also prevents prospects from ruling you out and tips the balance in your favor.