We have all had that meeting where the prospect turns into a customer immediately. As we all know, warm referrals turn into hot leads with a short sales cycle. While we would all like a steady stream of leads to pour into our company, many sources of leads (telemarketing, mailings, pay-per-clicks) don’t convert at the same rate or time as a warm referral. Referrals come from a trusted source that knows how well your services match with the needs of the buyer. Here are five tips to tune up your flow of business referrals.
Don’t Ask Your Clients for Referrals, Earn Them
Many experts say you should not ask for referrals because it puts your customers on the spot.
You can cultivate referral sources by asking for testimonials, endorsements and case studies. By developing these sales tools, you are helping your loyal customers to tell YOUR story in a crisp and concise manner. Eventually, your customers will proudly boast how your company saved them money on their broadband network or how you keep their systems up and running without hassle. Don’t hesitate to return the favor by referring business their way. If you take the time to understand your client’s business, you may help them by referring customers, employees and business partners from your own network.
Make Networking a Habit to Get More Referrals
When you go beyond your client base for referrals, there are many traditional networking sources for MSPs, Telco and CSP – think lawyers, accountants and bankers. In addition, IT Service Providers need broadband networking, so they may partner with a Telecom agent to round out their solution set. IT Consultants who implement line of business applications including CRM and Accounting systems also need bullet-proof networking to ensure happy clients — you get the idea. All of these service providers are sources of referral business. Connect up through business clubs, user groups, and trade organizations where business owners like you are looking for referrals. Put these local gathering events on your calendar and commit to attend. This not only builds a referral network, but builds your brand as well.
Make Your Own Referral Network
Using your clients and customers to tell your story through peer marketing is an excellent way to generate referrals. Consider hosting your own networking session to get your clients to mingle with your prospects. This could be a low-pressure event over lunch, an evening reception or sporting event. Consider hosting an educational seminar featuring one (or a panel) of your clients as a case study. Topics could include how they tackled compliance issues or successful migration to the Cloud. Your clients will value the opportunity to share their story as a way to build their referral network; meanwhile, they tell your story and promote your overall value.
Use Email Marketing to Stay Top of Mind with Your Customers
Outbound activities including email marketing are often used to invite prospects to events or to promote new services. Periodic communications, such as a monthly email newsletter, can keep you top of mind with customers, prospects, and other business partners. When the need arises for services like yours, you are more likely to get the referral if you are branded and bonded with your audience.
Extend Your Reach With Social Networks
Social networks, specifically Linkedin Groups, provide a cost-effective way to stay in touch with your network. Consider joining user groups, trade organizations (e.g. regional construction and technology professionals) and other peer organizations through your Linkedin profile. Remember many Linkedin Groups send an email digest of group activity to their members including blogs, posts and comments. This keeps you in front your your peers and extends the reach of your brand to members of the group.
While there are many sources of leads, they don’t all close at the same rate or time. Referrals are your best source grow your MSP, Telco or CSP business. Cultivate relationships with happy, loyal customers and business partners to build a steady source of lead referrals.