If You Want Referrals, You Must Ask For Them

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Let’s face it: No one enjoys asking for favors. It’s in the American nature, to say nothing of human, to try to do everything on our own and damn the consequences. It may lead to plumbing that resembles a geyser or a kitchen that looks like an M.C. Escher painting, but by golly, you did it on your own.

Given that, the idea of asking for referrals from customers and other businesses seems almost blasphemous, even though you need another party to get those referrals. Why, shouldn’t they want to come to you without you having to ask? The short answer? No. The longer answer? No way.

Businesses have their own issues and customers have busy lives, so even if they thought your company knocked it out of the park when you worked with them, they’re not likely to set up a referral relationship on their own. They’re not even particularly likely to refer one friend, family member or customer to you. Instead, you need to be proactive and work to set up a relationship that will help your business thrive.

Tips? We’ve got ’em.

  • Just ask. If you know a customer is delighted with you, hand them a few extra business cards and tell them you’d be glad to help out anyone else they know who might need your product or service. You can even offer them some small bonus for making the referral, which further encourages them to do just that.
  • Create a two-way street. A fellow business won’t have any particular interest in referring customers to you unless there’s a reason for it. Whether you provide a necessary service for them or are willing to refer customers back, you’ll need to sweeten the pot.
  • Cement the partnership. Especially in the case of a business, this is important. You want your partner business to think of you every time a customer comes in with a need you can satisfy. Make it as official as possible and hammer the idea home.

Ultimately, no business ever truly goes it alone. By asking for referrals, you’ll ensure you’re getting more business and qualified business, which is a definite win for your company.

How do you get referrals at your small business?


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