Not too long ago I had a pre-sales call with a client. She reported that her business was thriving, that she had new clients on the regular and she was super excited about it. When I asked her how she got those clients, she proudly exclaimed, they were all referrals! I didn’t have to do anything, my current clients just talked me up!
Naturally, I was thrilled for her. Clearly she was doing something right, right? So I dug a little deeper and I asked her how she collected them. And once again, she said, she didn’t have to do anything, she had one or two clients who did the work for her. So I asked her, have you considered what would happen to the rest of your client base if you asked them to do the same thing?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that the success she had experienced wasn’t worth celebrating. However, just because those two clients did all that work for her, doesn’t mean that other happy clients aren’t capable of doing the same thing!
The reality is, fewer than 30% of businesses ask their satisfied customers for referrals, which is a real shame. Why, because about 85% of customers will make an effort to refer business, if asked. That means that most business owners are relying on the consumer to do all the work. They expect the customer to say, yep I liked this product or service so much that I’m going to spread the word so that they get more business. Or simply put 2 and 2 together for a friend and make that connection.
While there are unicorns out there who are just great natural connectors and networkers, the majority of people need a little nudge. Without prompting, they won’t do much to think about how they can make an introduction or bridge the gap for a friend or colleague where you are the solution to their problem.
When we fail to ask for referrals we are losing an untapped resource. Our happy customers help build know, like and trust for a future customer, shortening the buyer cycle and certainly making the whole process more cost effective.
When was the last time you bought something without reading the reviews? Probably not for a long time! As a consumer, we rely on the experiences of others to understand whether we should do business with a company. Referrals are the best kind of testimonial. Here’s a trusted person that we know essentially vouching for this company/product/service that we are considering doing business with.
There are all sorts of reasons why businesses don’t ask for referrals or testimonials. For some they are simply afraid. The same insecurities that hold business owners back from making the sale, can prevent them from asking for a referral. For others, all the focus is on lead generation and what happens after a sale is closed is more of an afterthought. Which again, is a real bummer, since referral clients are the 2nd most cost effective customer to acquire.
So how do you make sure that collecting referrals AND testimonials is not an afterthought in your business? If you guessed automation, you guessed right! Here’s the technique we recommend for our clients when it comes to collecting referrals and testimonials:
Step 1: Close your sale and onboard your customer. You’d think this goes without saying, but I can speak from my own experience. I don’t like it when I get a request for a testimonial before I’ve had time to “try out” the product or service, so give them time to form an opinion before asking.
Step 2: Simple Satisfaction Survey. You decide how long after the completed sale before you initiate this step. Then send an email or two with a short survey for your client to fill out. In these emails you keep it simple, sweet and to the point. I like to have one sentence and then three links. Yes, I’m happy, I’m neutral and No, I’m not happy. Each answer will send them to a different Thank You Page and you can even include a form here for referral if you’d like to skip future steps, or perhaps ask for feedback. Based on what they say determines if you ask for a referral or testimonial. If they say yes, then they move to the next step of the campaign. If they say neutral or no, you will want a notification sent to yourself that something is not quite right so you can follow up appropriately.
Step 3: Ask for the testimonial. I do this via email AND text message. Using links to your google business page will allow you to send this out via text so the person can respond quickly and easily. Like step 2 reminders are helpful. We know sometimes people need to be asked more than once. Both email and text message should use the same strategy (i.e. google business page). Again, the easier this is for the customer the more likely they are to do it.
Step 4: Ask for a referral. Some people ask for the testimonial and referral at the same time. My preference is to keep them separate for two reasons. First, when you overwhelm people they freeze. So avoid having competing calls to action. Second reason, it helps you celebrate small wins when people are more likely to follow through. Think about it…which would you rather get in your inbox right now? A request for a quick testimonial or a long email about needing both? There’s a lot more to read and process and mentally prepare to do what you’re asking.
Everything I just shared is the process we guide our clients through. This works because it’s achievable and produces real results. We’re not asking you to implement something in your business that takes a ton of administrative time. Spend an hour and think about what each stage might look like for you, build your content, and put it in your automation tool.
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