Referrals . . .The Secret Weapon
Are you getting referrals from you customers? If not, you are missing a lot of sales. Think about many of the sites you visit on the web. Many of them will ask you to tell your friends, families and others who might be interested about them. For doing so, they offer you an incentive, for example, free stuff, gift certificates, etc.
Let's talk about off line. How about the book club or record club you belong to. When you get mailings from them, ever notice the card that says if you refer a friend they'll give you a free book or CD. This is what is called an incentive.
Any marketing expert worth their salt will tell you that there's no business like business you get from referrals. Why? Because for the most part, people who refer others know that person will be interested, and it also indicates that they are happy with your product, so word of mouth (or in this day and age, email) will be good.
Unfortunately very few individuals are going to write you and tell you how happy they are with your product or services. You NEED TO ASK FOR REFERRALS! This applies to everyone - big businesses, small businesses, home based businesses, sales representatives, independent contractors. In fact good salespeople will ask for the referral between closing the sale and saying goodbye to the customer as part of their sales pitch. We ask for referrals from our tenant buyers and sellers in our final letters.
A good example of using this in your business is, let's say you sell office supplies. Ask your customer for referrals and then offer to give them a discount or dollars off for so many referrals. Or you could give them a gift, like a free pen or calculator, etc. You get the idea.
To decide what to give away, think about what will motivate your customer. Will they prefer cash, or gifts. You know your customer best. You need to give them something they want so they will repeatedly give you referrals. We offer cash to our sellers and tenant buyers if they refer someone to us that we do a deal with.
For those in any type of retail operation the flyer that looks like cash that can be redeemed or buy one get one free, or get a percentage off, or it's a tax free weekend, etc. can work wonders. Couldn't you also mail a flyer to your customers that states, "Good toward your purchase, when you refer a friend".
In all businesses, you need to get your customer to tell you what they like about your business. For example, whenever we get an email or a telephone call from a customer that praises our services or products, we ask if we can use it as a testimonial. You must get their permission (unless however you receive unsolicited mail from them). Again, ask your customer for a testimonial. For example, if you liked the dinner at our establishment, please fill out this form. We appreciate your time, so by doing so, we will provide your next entrée for half price. We put incentives in our books and services for our customers to get back to us with their opinion.
I can remember back when I worked for temporary agencies, they were forever giving out pens, pads, magnets, etc. to keep their names in front of everyone. Think of Pizza Hut and Domino's. How many magnets do you have with their name and telephone numbers on your refrigerator. When we ran our Matching Numbers business, we made up shirts and jackets that we wore everywhere. You'd be surprised how many customers we got in the grocery store, post office, fast food places, who asked us for cards or about our business.
There is a whole separate industry that deals with advertising specialty items. You name it, you can get your name on it. Mugs, pens, business cards, memo pads, etc. These items can get the word out on your business not only to your customers , but also to your customers' customers. Memo pads are especially nice. People have a tendency to jot notes on them and then give them out to others. So they are a very far reaching tool. Advertising with Specialty items is almost as good as referrals.
Be sure on your promotional material (brochures, flyers, newsletters) that you indicate how your referral program works. Be sure to indicate what type of incentives you offer. Be sure to be very specific in outlining what your customers need to do. For example, fill out this form and mail it back (or fax it back) with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of those you are referring. You don't have to ask for all of this information, however, if you are going to snail mail you will need their address.
Be sure when you do your networking at your organizational meetings or chamber meetings that you tell people about your referral program. Business people appreciate being rewarded for referrals they give you. However, too many people never follow through, which is why for many businesses their referral program goes by the wayside. This is one area where we stress to our students you tell all your networking partners, your tenant buyers, your sellers, and all of your family, friends, in fact, everyone you come in contact with that you pay a percentage of each deal you do (an average deal is $5000) to them if they refer someone and you do a deal with that person. Believe me when I say, once they receive one check from you, they become a walking advertisement for your lease purchase business.
There is one caveat to offering a referral program and that is you must DO GOOD BUSINESS. Your credibility is at stake. You want to be viewed as a reliable, dependable, and trustworthy individual. You need for people to want to buy from you, and because you did such an outstanding job, tell everyone else about you.
So, are you using the Secret Weapon?
Copyright 2003 DeFiore Enterprises
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