evening last August I got a phone call from
my friend, Sarah. During the course of the
conversation, Sarah exclaimed emphatically,
“Genie, you have got to go see Seabiscuit!!!
It’s a true story about this race horse and
has a great message—you will love it—just
go see it!”
was a customer of the movie and I was a viable
prospect. For new movies, we all refer our
friends, thinking only of their enjoyment,
not the value to the movie producer, theater,
etc. However, when most business people ask
their customers for referrals, they somehow
forget the value to the prospect and believe
getting a referral is about helping themselves.
Then the referral falls flat without the enthusiasm
and confidence a true endorsement delivers.
traditional approach of asking for referrals
is generally ineffective. It is focused on
your objectives. Customers are not in-tune
with your goals; they see and hear the world
through their own filters. They do not instinctively
identify prospects for you, and yet their
contacts could become your biggest, revenue-producing
referrals are so important to all businesses
that a recent article in Harvard Business
only path to profitable growth may lie
in a company’s ability to get its loyal customers
to become, in effect, its marketing department.”*
how do you proactively stimulate “loyal customers
to become, in effect, your marketing department?”
business people who desperately want referrals
operate under several erroneous assumptions.
They fail to realize that customers are not
prepared to endorse the company. Some service
providers believe that long-standing customers,
who could be referring business, do not, simply
because they do not come across viable opportunities.
Yet the truth may be that satisfied customers
are now taking the service for granted and
are not motivated to “sing the company’s praises.”
There are other myths that prevent people
from interacting to incite referrals. A couple
of them are:
understand what I do, so they recognize
have experienced my service; they know
how to endorse me.
begin developing your customer marketing department,
analyze the current reality. What circumstances
prevent your customers from spontaneously
referring you business? From a customer’s
viewpoint, your referrals are not a priority—customers
just don’t think about your business.
You can coach customers to become your marketing
department. Realize to be effective, customers
must first be convinced of your commendable
service. They also must be able to identify
profitable prospects and recognize referral
opportunities to spontaneously refer you.
To capitalize on your customers’ contacts,
you should establish a referral generating
routine when working with your customers.
employees forget to “ask for referrals,” you
can implement rituals that, over time, become
marketing habits. Even though there are more
steps in the process, begin now by implementing
our top three “Referral Rituals” systematically
with your customers.
customers of what you have accomplished.
their perceived value
Recap two or three points that describe
your important services and the distinctions
that differentiate you from the competition...
them verbiage that is easy to remember
and successful when endorsing you
out prospects you believe they may know.
specific in describing a profitable
employing these three rituals you coach customers
to look and listen for potential new business.
Take these three rituals and establish a routine
for appointments. Make it a practice to review
a customer’s experience as the normal preliminary
conversation on an appointment. In this way,
you accomplish the first two rituals—getting
the customer in touch with the real value
as well as specifying the key benefits so
customers are prepared to convey your message.
Then, at the end of the appointment, point
out one or two target prospects and simply
ask the customer who they know in these categories.
you perform these rituals consistently you
circumvent the myths and make customers proud
to endorse you. By establishing a routine
for customer appointments, referrals are not
left to chance. Your employees habitually
conduct appointments to garner referrals.
our Referral Rituals become a positive and
instinctive behavior your customers are conditioned
to spontaneously endorse you persuasively,
just like they refer a new movie.
Rituals will make “loyal customers, in effect,
your marketing department!”
(The One Number You Need to Grow by Frederick
F. Reichheld; Harvard Business Review,
Fuller is the founder of Winning Referrals,
Ltd. and the CEO21 Referral Groups. She has
thoroughly researched business referrals for
the last 20 years and now trains business
owners and professionals to increase revenue
through referrals from customers as well as
other contacts. Learn more about Winning Referrals
or contact her by phone at 713.572.2578.