Now that you’ve established your business, how do you grow your customer base? Your existing customers are perhaps your #1 most untouched resource. Think about the network of people that stems from your existing customers. Their friends, families, neighbors, etc. are all prospective customers just waiting to hear about your business! But how do you go about reaching these people on a level that will persuade them to buy? Read on for five tips on creating, maintaining and growing your referrals.
1. Make sure you’re going after the right relationships. As much as we’d all like to have a close relationship with each and every customer, this sentiment is unrealistic. You have to put customer value into perspective — you wouldn’t spend as much time going building a relationship with a onetime purchaser of an entry-level product as you would a multiple buyer who has purchased several high ticket items of yours.
2. Implement the technology to follow up with people. Even though you probably won’t have time to get into personal touch with each and every customer, by implementing some simple technology, such as a follow-up email for example, it will really make a difference.
3. Make it easy and painless for people to refer your company. You know how much you hate sounding sales-y to your prospects? Your referrers are going to hate it even more. They want it to be a quick, simple and casual process to refer your company to their friends and family, so you should provide them with the means to do so. Stay away from offering outrageous bribes in exchange for referrals — this will only make them uncomfortable and question your integrity.
4. If you don’t know, ask. If you’re not sure the best way to go about asking your existing customers for referrals, why not just ask them? You’d be surprised as to how many people would be both willing and enthusiastic to tell their friends what products/services they like and why. Don’t be worried about harming your existing relationship — the worst they can say is they’re not interested!
5. Make sure your referrers feel appreciated. I don’t know about you, but sometimes a simple “thank you” can make or break how I feel about a situation. If I feel like my hard work is going unnoticed or unappreciated, I will most likely move on to a situation where I can feel like my time and effort is more valuable. Your customers will feel the same. Follow up with them if the people they refer follow through with doing business with you – it will make you look more professional and organized!
At what point in a business endeavor do you think it’s necessary to start gaining referrals? Right from the start? A couple years in? What are some outside-the-box ways you’ve found to get more people in the door? Let us know in the comments below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.