If you were to ask a group of small business owners what their biggest challenge is, the majority of them would admit to struggling with asking for and getting referrals. The good news is: this month we’re breaking this process down for you. We’re going to kick it off this week by telling you exactly what you need to do to take this process of random chance and turn it into a predictable, consistent machine.
First, let’s talk about why so many business owners struggle with asking for referrals: it’s uncomfortable.
It feels too “salesy”. For a select few, making sales is easy, even fun! But for the rest of us? It just feels icky. And unfortunately, the people listening to our sales pitch don’t like it any more than we do. When it comes down to it, the biggest problem with “selling” is that it often destroys our authority. We suddenly stop being the trusted advisor and become just another salesperson.
So what do we do instead? We have to figure out how to make sales less “icky,” less forced, and more organic. The common solution is just to ask more often. The more people you talk to, the more ‘yes’s you’ll get, right? While that’s true, it also means leaving your referral system up to chance.
In order to help you come up with a better system, here are 4 things you can do to create a predictable referral machine:
- Cultivate relationships – Focusing more energy on cultivating your relationships with existing clients will actually lead to more consistent referrals than asking every random person you meet. Your existing clients already know you rock! Use that to your advantage and make sure they know you are always looking for more referrals.
- Create a referral rewards system – This could be something as simple as a free hour of your time for every person referred to you that ends up converting into a paying customer. If the incentive is something your clients want, they will be more motivated than ever to refer people to you, guaranteed.
- Give them a gift – This can be a short book or e-book, a helpful report or list, or anything else that’s easy for people to share and that showcases your expertise in your field. Choose a problem that your ideal clients have, and then solve it for them. This makes it super easy and risk-free for people to recommend you to their friends, AND it gives people who don’t know you the chance to see what you know before they decide whether they want to work with you.
- Know when to ask – Making your sales pitch to every person you meet at every networking event ever is exhausting, and usually, it isn’t effective, either. Instead, get booked to speak to the group four formally, so you have the opportunity to prove your credibility. Once they know you’re an expert, you have an open door to make an offer that will result in actual, money-in-the-bank sales!
It’s hard to find the balance between the need to make a sale and the desire to not be seen as a “salesperson,” with all the negative connotations that go with that label. By following the advice we’ve given you today, you can generate referrals without feeling “icky”. Now all that’s left is for you to jump in and give it a shot!
We know you value the professional relationships you have with CPAs but next week we want to focus on creating successful strategic alliances with other types of professionals. Don’t miss it!