Sales referrals… they’re the lifeblood of any computer consulting business.
To thrive, you’ve got to keep them pumping in.
And, without them, sales dry-up…
....profits go down….
....and your job is harder.
So what makes sales referrals preferable to other types of leads?
They offer three main advantages over other types of advertising, including:
You don’t have to spend a fortune acquiring the customer. Heck, a yellow page ad can cost thousands of dollars, depending on your area and recouping those fees isn’t always easy.
2.Sales referrals normally come with an endorsement
Which leaves prospects pre-sold on your service before you ever say a word. This makes closing the sale much easier. The prospect already has you as his or her top choice… or at least a credible one.
There’s not a lot of work involved to get them. You’re leveraging the trust you’ve already built with existing clients. This is opposed to spending days going back and forth trying to persuade clients on the need for your services. A friend of theirs has already benefited.
With this said, the truth is, referrals don’t always come automatically.
In fact, you may do a great job for all of your clients, blow them away, and never get a referral… simply because the client doesn’t remember to recommend you. Once you’ve left, you’re no longer on the top of his or her mind. Fact is, more often than not, they need a little encouragement.
So, how can you do this?
Well, the biggest key is to ASK your clients for referrals.
Sounds simple, right?
However, you may not always feel comfortable doing so in all circumstances. You don’t want to sound pushy. Listen, I understand if this is the case for you. However, there are a number of “low-pressure” ways to ask for the referral as well.
• Offer a customer survey
This not only gets feedback on how to improve your services, but for all of those that rate you highly, there’s also a spot where they can give the contact information of referrals.
• Offer an incentive
Rather than you asking for a favor, offer a gift card or a check to the referrer and maybe even a discount to the referee. You can then bring it up by saying, “Before I leave, did I mention I have a referral program?”
• Send a follow-up email or postcard
To your client reminding him or her of your referral program shortly after the job has been completed. Ask him or her to email you or reply with the referees’ contact information.
• Strike while the iron is hot
When the client raves about your work and is thankful, this is the time to bring it up. Tell him or her you appreciate the feedback, that your business runs on referrals, and you would be thankful if he or she has someone else in mind that could use your services.
Finally, it’s not just clients you should ask. Look to join a local business networking referral group. Find other business owners with different types of businesses who actively exchange referrals. Get connected with those who can put you in touch with high-paying, high-quality customers who value your work.
Robert Peretson is the founder of Perry Consulting, a New York based MSP that has been providing IT support to many of the city's most progressive and prestigious small businesses since 1996.
Robert is also the editor of SuccessfulComputerConsulting.com, a website dedicated to helping Computer Consultants achieve greater success through proper business development practices and proven IT Marketing strategies.