Five Ways to Get More Referrals

There are many great things about getting referrals.  First, referrals have a built-in trust that helps you move through the sales process faster.  Second, there’s almost no marketing cost involved.  Third, they tend to make a better long-term client.

Unfortunately, many business owners take a reactive approach to referrals, waiting until they come to them, rather than a more profitable approach, which is to proactively maximize referrals.  In Accountant’s Accelerator, we talk a lot about proactive ways to boost referrals, and here are a few tips from that material.

1. Know who you want.

The first step may seem obvious, but it’s important to know what type of client you’d like to do business with.  Many business owners say “everyone.” But if you say that, the reaction is that people don’t know of anyone.  It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s far better to provide a narrow description of an ideal referral than it is to ask for any old name.  When your friends hear the detailed description, they can search their personal black book to see if anyone meets that criteria.  You’re far more likely to get one or two great matches with detailed information than you will asking for anyone.

2. Create a referral info sheet. 

Write up a handout about the type of referrals you want.  What type of business is it?  How long has it been around?  Where are they located?  Do they use a particular accounting system?  Do they have a specific accounting problem?  Do they have employees?  What industry are they in?  Is it a Mom-and-Pop store, a chain, a franchise, or a division?  What other services and products do they use?  What type of customers do they have?  What type of entity is it?

Put together all of this information and create a sheet you can share with referral partners.  Encourage them to make a sheet that they can give to you of their own ideal referral.

3. Create a referral plan.

A referral plan should be a subcomponent of every marketing plan.  It should list all of the activities you will be doing in conjunction with boosting referrals.  This will include items such as sending thank-you notes to people who refer client to you, developing processes so that you know who your top referrers are, and tasks that encourage more referrals.

Once the plan is complete, drop it into your project management system, automate it as much as possible, and reap the rewards of your good work.

4. Develop a referral program.

Many companies offer a referral rewards program, so why not yours too?  You might offer a gift certificate, cash, or a points program that will incent clients to send you business.  One idea that’s effective is to offer both the referral and the referring party a bonus or discount so that’s it’s a triple win for you, your referring client, and your brand new client.

If you’re a CPA or financial advisor, check with your state licensing board for any ethics rules about gifts to clients so that your referral program meets their criteria.

5.  Get the word out.

If no one knows you want referrals, guess what’s going to happen:  You won’t get any referrals!  It’s a silly point, but I’ll bet good money that you have at least one client who doesn’t know you want more referrals.   Maybe all of your clients don’t know.

Imagine how many opportunities you’ll lose if you don’t let people know that “Business is good, and we’re looking for more.”

Add these five ideas to your marketing plan, and let us know what you think on our blog.