This article discuss about How To Ask For Referrals and How To Generate More Referrals.
This contents of this edition are:
- Referrals From People Who Know You
- Social Networking to Increase the Number of People Who Know You
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Referrals
- If You Want Referrals, Ask for Them
Referrals From People Who Know You
Successful businesses rely on recommendations from their existing clients and contacts for future business. However, most business owners don’t know when or how to ask for referrals or what to say when asking.
Instead of asking for referrals when you need new business, it is better to develop systems that ensure a continuous flow of referrals.
Satisfied clients are usually happy to make referrals to businesses that can also satisfy their friends and associates.
In most cases, all that is necessary is to make the appropriate request.
Clients and contacts will make referrals that they expect will result in successful relationships.
Few people will deliberately make potentially problematic referrals, especially if the referral could jeopardize existing relationships.
And as an added benefit, referrals are also the least costly source of new clients, often obtained at little or no expense.
The best prospects come from people who know you.
They are your prospecting matchmakers.
They know, and can recommend you to the people whom you may not know but need to know.
Social Networking to Expand Your Sphere of Influence
How to ask for referrals
Effective networking is essential to the success of all businesses.
The synergy of effective networking can be an energizing force while ineffective networking is a waste of time.
Although normally driven by the need or desire to develop new business, networking is more than simply swapping leads: it’s about exchanging mutually beneficial information.
From a prospecting perspective, networking is a proactive process that enables you to make personal contact with people you don’t know.
These people could be prospective clients themselves or they might know others whom they can refer to you.
Networking creates a pool of sources from which you can draw clients, resources, referrals and new business opportunities.
It is through this pool, that other people will make referrals and recommendations to you.
If marketing is the process that puts you into a position to convert prospects into clients, networking is the process that enables you to connect with people you do not know but need to know.
Networking helps you increase the number of people who know you, which in turn allows you to meet prospective clients and potential referral sources.
For many people, the best way to make the connection is by joining and actively participating in appropriate clubs and organizations, expecting to meet new people who might become clients or referral sources.
Organizations such as clubs and social, athletic, or cultural groups offer the best networking opportunities.
Networking activities offer the opportunity to demonstrate the personal traits by which you appear successful, and by extension, trustworthy.
Factors such as diligence, flexibility, good listening, and helpfulness can benefit organizations and their members as much as they help clients.
Also, through personal interaction and active participation in appropriate clubs and organizations, you can demonstrate their commonality with other members.
A proactive approach, networking does not depend upon waiting for prospects to approach you.
It allows you to initiate contact with people you need or want to know.
Benefits & Drawbacks of Referrals
Benefits of Referrals
How to ask for referrals
- contacts will pre-qualify leads before making referrals
- non-qualified prospects are usually screened out.
- more objective than paid advertising and promotional material
- often all that is necessary is to make the appropriate request and contacts will make high potential referrals
Low or no cost to generate
- no direct financial cost to generating referrals.
Drawbacks of Referrals
Takes time to develop
- the smaller your network of contacts, the longer it will take to generate a steady flow of leads
Requires ongoing action
- network must be maintained and nurtured
- keeping in touch and regular contact are critical
- ongoing actions necessary to generate referrals continuously
Potentially unreasonable expectations
- some clients may be so happy with your service that they think you can do anything
How To Ask For Referrals
How to ask for referrals
Asking for referrals is an ongoing process, an essential element of what you do to grow your business. As such it should be an integral component of all of your dealings with clients.
In your early discussions with new clients, let them know that it’s your normal practice to look for referrals from satisfied clients.
They might even be in a position to make referrals at that preliminary stage of the relationship. At the very least, this will prepare them for your asking for referrals from time to time. When is the best time to ask for referrals?
Certainly there are those spontaneous occasions in which some one compliments you on your work. What better time to ask for a referral?
Go for it.
Follow your normal considerations in asking for referrals, give several business cards to your client or contact and hope for the best.
Effective as making spontaneous requests may be, the best way to generate a consistent flow of referrals to develop a referral system.
This will ensure that you ask for referrals on completion of individual transactions and also on a continuous basis.
When you have completed the work for which you were hired, contact your clients to thank them for allowing you to serve them. Tell them how much you have enjoyed working with them (even if you haven’t).
Acknowledge that they probably know other people like them who are planning on selling or buying their homes.
Using your own words, ask for referrals.
Keeping In Touch With Referral Sources
How to ask for referrals
Clients, both past and present, represent the most obvious and important source of referrals.
Initially, as prospects, your clients liked you. In fact they liked you well enough to do business with you.
Remember the old saying: ‘If I like you I might do business with you; if I don’t, I won’t’
They also trusted you enough to hire you and allow you to help them. They hired you and as their agent, you helped satisfy their needs and wants. Unfortunately repeat business and referrals do not just happen.
They are the benefits of maintaining ongoing relationships – or keeping in touch – with clients.
Satisfied clients are usually happy to refer friends, family and others to professionals who serve them well. Since you have satisfied your clients, you can also satisfy people like them.
By keeping in touch with clients using the techniques described below, you can remind clients of the service they received on their real estate transactions.
As a result, the clients will most likely remember you and retain you again for subsequent transactions.
Similarly, reminded of the help they received from you, clients will be willing to recommend you and refer others to you.
In addition to clients there are three other possible sources of referrals: your family and friends, network contacts and referral partners.
1. Family and Friends
How to ask for referrals
The bad news about asking family and friends for referrals is that they are generally too close to you to offer objective unbiased opinion. It’s also possible that while they know you as a family member or a friend, they may know little if anything about how you serve clients.
The good news is that they can promote your personal characteristics to people you don’t know but need to know.
Let your family and friends know about the kind of clients you would welcome as referrals.
Make sure that they have business cards to give to interested prospects.
When asking clients for referrals, you might also consider asking for testimonials.
Good testimonials demonstrate to prospective clients that you are reliable, trustworthy and honest.
2. Network Contacts
These are the people that everyone meets as they go about their daily lives, doing business in stores, offices and other work places.
They include the contacts made through networking activities and participation in clubs, organizations, community events, social activities, religious services and so on.
While these people may know nothing about how you serve clients, they probably do know people you do not know but need to know.
3. Referral Partners
These people comprise a specialized referral system.
In practice, you solicit referrals from other businesses and in return make appropriate referrals to them.
By adopting the referral partner approach, you can dramatically increase the number of referrals that you receive.
Like referrals from clients, these prospects are predisposed to do business with you because they have been referred by people they know and trust.
And as an added bonus, it costs virtually nothing to obtain clients by referral.
As noted, in return for partners making referrals to you, you would agree to make referrals to the partners.
Techniques for Keeping In Touch
Advertising premiums are give-aways like calendars, pens and scratch pads that feature the name and contact data of individual sales representatives and the offices for which they work.
How to ask for referrals
More substantial than advertising specialties, gifts such as flowers, food or gift certificates are commonly used to thank others for their business, referrals or special services.
Whether in hard copy or electronic format, newsletters can be ideal vehicles to provide readers with something of value by helping them understand new developments related to the service that you provide
Specialized or Personal Mailings
These are personalized or customized mailings in which agents recognize clients’ special achievements and awards.
Whether offering congratulations on reaching personal and business milestones or recognizing a special achievement, these are occasional mailings, triggered by specific events.
Special Promotions from Others
In this approach, you would offer your clients certain promotions – discounts, unique offerings or special events – provided by your referral partners or network contacts.
Included in this category are events that do not specifically relate to selling real estate.
They range from specific customer appreciation activities such as parties and receptions to charitable, sports, cultural and seasonal events.
The Downside of Keeping In Touch
The major downside of keeping in touch with clients and other referral sources is that it does not produce instant results. It takes time.
The bigger and broader your network of contacts, the sooner you will reap the benefits from your referral system
Keeping in touch with clients and network contacts is one of your most important and challenging marketing activities.
Its importance cannot be overemphasized.
Regular contact helps sales representatives maintain an ongoing, positive presence in the minds of their clients and contacts.
Obviously, this presence will facilitate repeat engagements and referrals from satisfied clients. Two factors contribute to the challenge of effectively keeping in touch.
First, there is the issue of frequency of contact.
By keeping in touch too frequently, you risk annoying your contacts and having your message lost in the advertising clutter.
Conversely keeping in touch too infrequently makes it difficult to maintain a sufficiently strong presence to generate referrals.
And second, for keeping in touch to be effective, you must distinguish yourselves from the competition and connect effectively with your clients and contacts.
There is little to be gained by sending messages that simply get lost in the crowd.
The key to keeping in touch effectively is to do the same things that enable sales people to define and succeed in niche markets.
You must continue to be perceived as an expert, knowledgeable about your market.
You must also ensure that whenever and however you keep in touch, you do it is such a way that you appear competent and trustworthy.
To learn more about generating referrals by networking and keeping in touch see How To Achieve Better Marketing Results…Sooner
“How To Ask For Referrals” Article published on “Real Estate Marketing News” Ezine Dec 2009