” Even though I have a number of satisfied clients I get very few referrals. I provide top quality service and get lots of praise but hardly any of my clients send new business my way.”
“What am I doing wrong?”
Shelby was telling me one of her small business marketing problems. She’s working hard to provide a great service, but not getting enough new lead generation.
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Let me ask you a couple of questions:
1. Is it your client’s job to know that your business depends on having a steady stream of referrals?
2. Do you expect your clients to remember the full range of services you offer and problems you solve?
3. Is it your client’s job to know how to describe your services to attract new clients?
4. Do you expect your clients to identify new prospects for you?
5. Is it your job to regularly remind clients of the services you provide, help them identify referrals and coach them in which words to use?
If you answered yes to #1, 2, 3 or 4, you gave the wrong answer.
Somehow we’ve developed unrealistic expectations regarding referrals. We think that because we’ve done a great job or provided a great product, our clients and customers will become our best sales people. Its not so. Your satisfied clients are likely to thank and then unless prompted; they won’t think of you again.
Take Shelby, for example. She provides high-end catering to corporations in New York City. Last year, she catered events for many Fortune 500 companies including one with attendance of over a thousand people. Letters of thanks and praise followed, but not one referral. What was she doing wrong?
Shelby didn’t have a plan for lead generation. She didn’t know that it was her job to help her satisfied clients provide referrals or how to do it.
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Understand that it is your job to help clients generate referrals. Don’t expect them to remember that your business depends on referrals or to know the range of problems you solve or the best way to talk about what you do.
Develop a plan for generating referrals. Be proactive in establishing expectations so clients know that you are continually looking for referrals.
Learn how to ask for referrals. Just asking, “Do you know anyone who can use my services?” won’t get you very far. Use specific questions to help clients identify potential prospects.
If you’ve been in business for a year or more, you should have many satisfied clients. Learn how to generate referrals and you’ll see your business grow.