“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.” – Bob Burg, Author and Speaker
Asking for referrals in the B2C area is a common practice. Asking for referrals by B2B companies is not as common, even though it’s a great way to generate new business. This may be because B2B personnel may not know who or how to ask for referrals.
Sources of referrals are everywhere. The most obvious ones are current and past clients. Employees, colleagues and people you meet at networking events also are excellent sources. And, social media provides a multitude of referral possibilities. Start by inviting customers, friends and prospects to like your company’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Post engaging content on these and other relevant sites to prompt conversations with both clients and prospects. Ask recipients of your company newsletters and blogs to forward them to their contacts. Research clients’ networks and identify prospects with similar needs. Then ask your clients to make introductions to them on your behalf.
Referrals are about relationships
In both B2C and B2B fields, referrals are about relationships. It’s no surprise that customers give referrals because they like and trust those providing services or products. Asking for referrals as part of the sales process is uncomfortable if we fear rejection or worry about jeopardizing the deal. This can be remedied by learning how to ask in a way that reminds clients of the value delivered by your company. Additionally, when customers compliment you, thank them and use these opportunities to ask for referrals.
Client testimonials are crucial sources of referrals. Ask for them and post them on your website along with LinkedIn and Facebook company pages. Suggest clients write about what they valued most in working with you and your company. A bonus of using LinkedIn for testimonials is your clients’ entire social networks are notified when they post recommendations. Similarly, foster good will with customers by writing and posting testimonials for them along with providing them with referrals. And most importantly, always thank your customers for referrals, whether or not the referral turns into a new client.
Asking for referrals is a vital technique for developing new business. The more you ask for referrals, the more natural it becomes and you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.