Referrals are an incredibly effective way to build your business and get great clients. Referred clients are often more loyal, consistent, more suited to work with you and they often send more referrals your way. How do I know this?
Referrals work – but have a system
My partner Nicole and I have gotten 80% of our videography work from referrals. And it didn’t happen by accident, we created a system that ensures we don’t have to go out looking for our next gig. A system that we created at the start to have referral clients reaching out to us with projects they wanted us for. Talk about turning the tables! So now, I’m going to share with you our exact system and how you can implement it right now.
What to consider before you get started building your referral system
But before we get into the nitty gritty of our system, there are a few important things you need to consider. Let’s take a look at the questions below; they will help you frame your understanding of our system. Answer these questions before we dive in and you’ll be ready to start implementing this system as soon as you finish reading this article.
1. Why would someone send a referral your way?
Before you begin to ask for referrals, create a list of the benefits your clients experience when they work with you. These are the same benefits a referral client would experience if they worked with you as well. What are the social, emotional and professional benefits that go along with being someone who refers people in need to those who can help? In this case, the referral client is in need and you are the person that can help.
2. Who would make an ideal referral for you?
Write down the types of people who make great referrals. Your customers may have no idea whom to refer to you, so make it easy for them to send the right people your way.
3. Where would a client find a potential referral to actually send your way?
Write down the places where your referrers would meet or connect with good referrals for you. Your goal here is to help your clients, and other acquaintances, understand who in their lives will benefit most from a referral, and where they cross paths with these people. This makes it easy for the referrer to start thinking of people to refer to you immediately.
4. How should someone go about sending you a referral?
Empower your clients to have a simple conversation with a potential referral who will effectively connect them to you and what you do. You absolutely cannot leave this to chance. You must be able to articulate what you do in a way that truly connects you to the people you want to serve. This is absolutely essential.
Write down how you’d like people to refer their contacts to you. What do you want them to say? Create a short script for them- they’ll thank you for it as you just made things even easier for them. How do you want them to talk about what you do? What specific words and phrases do you want them to use? Get very specific. You decide how you want people to talk about you.
Just thinking about these questions and writing down your responses is going to put you ahead of most of your completion. Your answers to these questions will play a major role in implementing our getting more referrals system; so take it seriously.
The four step referral system
All answered up? Okay, let’s get into the four steps of the referral system.
At the bottom of this post, there is a link where you can download a checklist that goes along with this system. Go ahead and download it now and I’ll meet you back here once you have it open along with this post.
Downloaded and opened? Awesome! Let’s get started. This system is broken into four major steps:
Step 1: Know when to ask for a referral
We recommend asking for referrals at the time of delivery of your project, when the quality of your work, and the experience of working with you is fresh in the client’s mind. The optimal opportunity to ask for referrals during this time is when the client compliments your work or asks you questions about your business.
Step 2: Know how to ask for a referral
The actual words you use to ask for a referral is critical to getting the referral you want. This is why we are just flat-out giving you a script you can use when asking for referrals:
I really appreciate all the positive feedback about my work. I always want to exceed my client’s expectations; it’s actually how I get most of my projects. Most of my work comes from referrals from clients like you.
Can you take a few minutes today to help me help others with their photography needs? Could you introduce me to three of your contacts that you think might need my expertise? By making these connections, sharing with them how much you enjoyed working with me and how happy you are with the results, I can continue to serve people I love working with.
Thank you in advance for the introductions and creating the potential for another great experience.
A few things are being said here in this script.
- Your work speaks for itself and is the reason you continue to succeed in your field.
- The client understands that giving you referrals is what is expected since that’s how you get most your work.
- The client starts to feel important and plays a critical role in creating connections and providing great experiences for others.
- The “thanks in advance” assumes that they will actually take action which sets up an expectation. The client understands you expect them to send you some referrals.
Step 3: Your post referral strategy
Once you get a referral, follow up with them ASAP. You don’t want to wait too long. Reply the next day at the latest. Many times your client referred them to you the same day they reach out to you. You will want to capitalize on that moment of good will and excitement.
Also, make sure you circle back to the referrer, thank them and tell them how the project is going. It shows how serious you take your business and they will send you more referrals in the future.
Step 4: Giving referrals to get referrals
Don’t just sit around and wait for clients to send you over referrals after you ask them to. One of the best ways to get referrals is to give them. Who are the other service providers that serve your target market? Make a shortlist of people you can refer to?
Are you a wedding photographer that can refer a videographer or banquet hall manager to someone? Maybe even a client of yours? The next time you see someone who would be an ideal client for someone else, go ahead and make that referral. If you are giving your colleagues in your target market referrals, chances are they will want to do the same for you in return.
This is a tried and true system. Use it. The key is to stay consistent and go through the steps of this system every time you have a client.
Not working with a client right now? You don’t need to wait to put this into practice. Reach out to past clients you haven’t already asked for a referral and use the script above. You can change up the first paragraph of the script with: “I was reviewing some of my past work in my portfolio and was reminded how much I enjoyed working with you as a client. I’m always looking for ideal clients like you to work with.”
You got this! Don’t hesitate. Use this system and start getting more referral work today.
Download the checklist
Remember, there is a nifty checklist that goes along with this getting more referral system. You can download it here!