Business is all about processes, frameworks, long emails, meetings, conference calls and spreadsheets that look like a ski slope. Or is it about relationships; all about relationships. Is what we’ve learned in those straight lined business books really just mechanisms to support and assist relationship building?
Two years ago a colleague met up with me to pick my brains on how he could get more customers. I listed all the normal things he should do until he stopped and asked “How do you get your business?” The question threw me for a second because (for once) I didn’t have an immediate answer. I then realised that almost all of my business comes from referrals.
Great I thought, but how did I get there and what have I learned from it? So here are my top 10 tips on growing your business through referrals.
1. Do more than you have to – as standard. No one remembers when someone just about did their job. They remember when you exceed their expectations. So do it – all the time.
2. It’s not all about the money. Give something away for free. Not only will it give you a nice warm feeling inside, but how else are people to know what you’re capable of unless you show them? Creds are good, but people want to know how you can help them specifically
3. Proof is in the pudding. Only do what you can demonstrate proven results for. If you don’t know how to do that then work it out. Those results can be quantitative and qualitative, but find a measure. If you don’t then people won’t be able to prove your results either, evangelise you or have a definite success story to talk about
4. Connect people. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Your network is your net worth”. There’s a value in your network, so spend that on those who need it. People remember those who’ve helped them and become your biggest fans.
5. Kill mediocrity. Everyone wants something special not just for themselves but for their businesses. So offer something or do something special. It might be the packaging, might be the contents or might be the special touches. Be memorable not mediocre
6. Be useful. The most commonly used household items aren’t necessarily the most exciting ones. So think about how you can offer something really useful as part of or core to your business that keeps ’em coming or keeps ’em talkin
7. Anticipate. Part of really good service delivery is looking ahead of your customers woes and accommodating for them before they bring it to your attention. Not only do you look like a visionary but you’ll get a nice warm feeling (again
8. Get to know your customers. I know you’ve got enough friends already but the more you know your customers, the more you’ll understand what they want or who they need to know. You’re then able to service, provide or connect them more effectively
9. Thank them. People like to be appreciated, so when they do refer, make sure you show your appreciation
10. Be the best. People normally refer because you’re great at what you do. But a referral also comes with the reputation of the referrer on the line. So above all, be the best at what you do so the cycle of referrals can continue