Who doesn’t love getting referrals? Comprising 65% of all new business, (according to the NY Times), they’re also 4 times more likely to buy than other leads. However, seeking and driving referrals continues to be an underutilized strategy by many businesses.  In this three-part series, we’ll focus on refining your approach to asking for, getting and leveraging referrals to aid in your local marketing efforts. Check back each Tuesday for the latest insights!

Catch up with Part One: Building Your Referral Strategy and Part Two: 7 Ways To Boost Your Referrals today!

Now that you’re starting to get traction with your referral strategy, it’s time to refine your approach even more. Sometimes the best way to improve, is by learning what not to do. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can position your business for success by expanding your reach and attracting new customers.

Make sure you don’t…

Ask Only Once (or not at all)

While it’s vital to wait for the right opportunities to ask for referrals, it is just as Referral marketing: Here's what NOT to doimportant to plant the seeds early and revisit the subject throughout the time you spend with clients. This not only keeps them mindful of your request, but punctuates instances when they are impressed  with your products or services. If you wait to ask until the end of your time together it might be more difficult to remember these instances of satisfaction, which often get forgotten or diluted with time.

This also gives them time to think sincerely about who in their network they can refer. If you wait until the last minute and put them on the spot, you cannot expect them to furnish a well-pondered list. From their point of view, business has been completed and their mind is already on the next thing.

Imply The Type of Referral You Want

Too frequently business owners will fail to describe their target customer, or frame them in relation to their current customer.  You may think it’s easy enough to tell them it’s “someone like you, who is looking for this type of solution” and for some it may be, but for others they don’t identify themselves as a prospect with a pain point. When the target is too vague, it makes it nearly impossible to zero in on anyone.

They may also not be aware of the full offering you have, so be sure to outline what you look for in prospective customers and don’t be afraid to tell them what a good referral looks like for you. If possible, even narrow the parameters. If they still seem at a loss and you feel that you have a wide target, frame it within different acquaintance circles.Try asking “Who do you know from your community group/fantasy football league/ book club that might need this?” With people four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend, do everything you can to ensure the process is as clear and easy as possible so that you can facilitate these profitable results.

Focus On Leads

Another common error, asking for a referral with the goal of obtaining simply the name or contact info for friends of a current customer seldom yields the results you’re looking for. While not a loss by any means, it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize or end game: gaining new customers.  Oftentimes this is due to ambiguous directions when discussing the referral, so remember it is your job to ensure you communicate your preferences, clearly.

The next time your current customer mentions a friend or relative that they think might make a great new customer, ask them to set up an introduction. Otherwise, contact information can be no better than cold calling. They don’t want to hear  you tell them that their friend thought they could benefit from your products or services, and no matter how many times you name drop, their mind will already be made up. They want to hear about you from their friend, not the other way around.  It might seem like a nuanced difference, but by asking for an introduction the prospective client will feel as they’re in good hands, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

Approach Referrals as You Would Other Customers

Referrals aren’t the same as your usual new customers. Armed with more knowledge of your product than most, and having already received a rave review from a pal, they don’t require the hard sell. Instead, make them feel welcome and focus on building a relationship that will turn them into a repeat customer, and even make them want to refer you to their friends in the future.

If you’re looking to drive even more referrals, schedule a demo to learn more about Signpost’s automated marketing.