You might have the most satisfied clients in the world, but how many referrals do you get from them? In most studies conducted on this subject the results show that only a small percentage of clients actually provides referrals. Simply asking for a referral does not, alone, generate a referral. It is a more complicated issue; it starts with the relationship building process, the trust that you develop and finally how you get your clients to exhibit loyalty to you and your firm.
A client has to be engaged in the process of referrals. The engagement process starts with the first meeting with a prospect. The foundation has to be in the selection of a “right” client. There has to be a spark upon which a relationship can be built. Selecting a client only because they need your service and you need the revenue that a client produces, is not enough to establish a referring client. In past columns we discussed the process of defining your ideal client and then finding them.
Once you have identified a client, conversations, a lot of them, in which you do a lot of listening is the next order of business. A client want to know that you understand their needs and take the time necessary to meet those needs. Providing a quick service, even if it is satisfactory, does little to engage the client into providing future referrals.
The last part of the process is asking questions. Always ask clients for feedback and input on your service. This aspect of your business may be overlooked but it is a critical part for building active, referring clients. I recently saw a statistic that said that only 2% of clients refer because they were asked. The majority of them referred because a friend described a need and they offered a solution by referring you.
Somehow, all this comes down to how you treat your clients, from the first meeting as a prospect to actually becoming your clients.
Commit yourself to quality from day one…. It’s better to do nothing at all than do do something badly.