Be Patient? Nah, Lets Kill Something
There's the old joke about the two buzzards sitting in atree overlooking a highway. One responds to the other, "Bepatient? I'm hungry. Let's kill something." Just like thatbuzzard, it is not in the nature of most marketers to bepatient for business to grow. They want to go out and "killsomething," too.
The trouble is that most marketers go after new business thewrong way. They want to "take down" the new piece ofbusiness using all the tools of the trade from advertisingand direct mail to cold calling and event marketing. This isan expensive way to drum up business. Your existing clientsare just waiting to tell you about people they know whocould use your services, and then help sell you in to thesepeople they refer. Not only is this more cost effective, itpractically guarantees the prospects will share the samecharacteristics of your best customers.
"OK, Harry," you're asking, "but how do I do it?"
The first rule of getting referrals: ask. When should youask? Let's review.
- After your customer has purchased something from you is agreat time to ask. The new customer is pumped up about youroffering and you can harness that energy by asking for namesof others who could beneft from doing business with you.
- Upon delivery of your product or service is the next timeto ask. The benefits of your offering should be readilyapparent now, so you can remind the customer of theimportance of their referrals.
- Anytime you have personal contact with your customer is agood time to ask. You are continuing to build a relationshipwith them and can use the opportunity to ask for referrals.Don't ask more than three times per year.
Many people hesitate to ask for referrals because they arenot sure how to do it. Just be honest. Tell your customersthat referrals are very important to the growth of yourbusiness, and that you want to grow it with people just likethem. Remind them that the people they know will benefitfrom your service the way that they have. Then, ask.
Tell your prospect that you'd like for them to give you thenames of three or four people who might benefit from yourservices. Pull out a sheet of paper and pen and lookexpectantly at them. If they can't immediately give younames, ask some prompting questions. Such as:
Who are your three best friends?Who are the most successful business people you know?Can you think of anyone who would benefit from my services?
Write the names down and keep writing until the customerruns out of names. Then, go back and ask for contactinformation for each one.
Thank the customer in the way you feel most comfortable.Some people like to send a gift, others will just drop anote of thanks. Some wait to see if the referral becomes acustomer and then send a higher end gift. Do whatever worksfor you, but do thank them and keep them in the loop,letting them know about your follow up and the outcome ofyour prospecting.
So, don't just sit there in your tree. Get out there andkill something.
Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR, http://www.hoover-ink.com. He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Duke Energy, Levolor, New World Mortgage, North Carolina Tourism, VELUX and Verbatim.
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