Increase Quality Referrals through a Proactive Program
One of the unique benefits of our Active Referral Generation Program is that, in addition to being highly effective, it never “burns out” your client list. Our system leaves clients delighted to be contacted by you rather than avoiding another request for referrals. Here’s how the program works.
- Create your list. First, pull together a list of all of your clients. Then, read through the list and identify which people you would classify as “helpers” – those who would be willing to help you grow your business. Often, more people are helpers than not, so if you had a list of 125 clients, for instance, approximately 100 would likely fit into the “helper” category.
- Divide the list. Next, divide your “helper” list into four equal groups; in this case, you would have four groups of 25. The first group will be your target group for this exercise. The other three groups will be for outreach you conduct later. We recommend you contact a group every six months; this way, your clients will only receive a referral request from you every two years and therefore will never feel burdened by your requests.
- Send a referral letter. Next, send a referral letter to your group of 25. Your referral letter would begin with something like this:
As you know, one of the most powerful ways we use to grow our business is through word of mouth and referrals from satisfied clients.”From there, you can share about your active referral generation program and extend an invitation for your client to participate. Close the letter by letting your client know that you will follow up with a phone call within a week.For a sample referral letter: In TouchStone, go to the “Active Referral” process inside of the “Getting” the Business Process Library.
To conduct your referral campaign effectively, don’t send out all 25 letters at once; rather, start with five a week. Keep in mind that this system works and will generate meetings and referrals for you, which can be hard to keep up with when you have to manage 25 at a time.
- Follow up. As promised, follow up with your clients within a week. And, before you do, create a script to keep this part of the process consistently effective. For a sample of a call script: In TouchStone, go to the “Active Referral” process inside of the “Getting” the Business Process Library.
The purpose of the follow-up call is to book an appointment. Keep the call brief by quickly describing your intention, the process and what your client can do to help. To ease any concerns the client may have about taking time to meet with you, you also want to describe how the meeting will go, letting your client know, for example, that you will take just a few minutes to explain the referral program, describe exactly what type of client you’re looking for and how many referrals you are hoping to receive.
- Conduct the referral generation meeting. When you meet, be sure to define exactly what type of prospect you are looking for as well as what type of prospect you are NOT looking for. Your goal is not to generate any referral but specifically a referral to your best type of client.
For example, at Business Design Corporation we explain to our client that we are looking for successful business with the following criteria:
- Annual revenues of approximately $1 million or more
- More than 5 but less than 100 employees and
- Have been owned for approximately 6 – 15 years.
We are not in the turnaround or start-up business; rather, we specialize in helping business owners get their lives back. As with any good business, we know who we can help and have defined a target audience that is very specific.
As you describe your ideal client, sometimes the person you’re meeting with will draw a blank, saying they cannot think of anyone that matches your description. This is why we recommend you come prepared with a list of questions that will catalyze thinking about who they might know, such as: “Are you a member of any clubs or organizations?” and “Do you know people in those organizations who might fit the description?” This will help your clients to expand their thinking and almost always helps them think of quality referrals.
When you go into the meeting, have a goal in mind. We typically aim for three or four referrals from clients. When we reach that, we complete the meeting. Often you’ll get a little more or less than your target, but having a goal keeps you focused.
- Reach out to the prospect. Once you have four or five referrals from a client, show them the letter you’ll be sending to the prospect. For an example of this letter: In TouchStone, go to the “Active Referral” process inside of the “Getting” the Business Process Library.
Our letter starts out as follows:
“Dear [Prospects Name],
We are pleased to present you the enclosed copy of The E-Myth Revisited at the request of [Our Client’s Name]. [Our Client’s Name] is one of our clients and has found the principles outlined in this book to be invaluable to his business.”As you can see from the letter, when we send the letter to a prospect, we also include a top-rated business book as a gift from our client who made the referral. This reflects well on our client, which is part of keeping this process respectful and serving the interests of all involved.
- Track your progress. Finally, track your progress. If you track your progress, you’ll see that you will receive a relatively consistent number of leads from referrals. On average, we tend to get three referrals from each client. If I contact 25 clients, they usually provide me with 75 leads to follow up with. If I follow up with 75 leads, approximately 50 percent will give me an appointment, which equals 35 to 36 appointments. Those appointments typically turn into 10 new clients. Often, that’s all I will need at the time. One of the benefits of the program is that I will have generated all the new clients I need while only accessing 25 of my existing clients.
As you can see, using an active referral generation system gives you a predictable, systematic way to produce leads to quality clients. By working and refining this process, you can pre-empt worrying about not having enough clients by taking action on a program that you can trust to deliver results.