How to Get Better Customer Referrals

Joseph Stubblebine
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Customer referrals are the lifeblood of many sales-based businesses. Sales representatives often understand how to get referrals, but they may not fully understand how to make it easy for clients to deliver the best possible referral for your business. Common mistakes include asking for referrals at the wrong time, failing to position yourself or your business as experts in the field, and not providing excellent customer service. These are three keys to getting the best referrals from your existing clients.

One of the mistakes that many sales professionals are likely to make is failing to follow through after an order is placed. Excellent service starts with product knowledge and doesn't end until the customer expresses satisfaction after using the goods or services. An average, run-of-the-mill experience is likely to result in an average referral. You may not get referrals at all if you fail to deliver memorable customer service, no matter how strong your company's customer referral program may appear at first glance.

Customer referral programs often ignore the fact that referrals are rarely about gaining incentives unrelated to the service provided and are actually about building better relationships. If you are looking to get referrals of the highest quality, you need to position yourself or your company as one that can solve the problems that each customer's friends, family, or other acquaintances are likely to encounter. It is not enough to give a free pen or minor discount with each referral; customers need to know that their friends and family will be working with the best in the business and experience the same great experience that they have enjoyed.

In the race to get referrals, it is easy to forget timing. If you ask for a referral during the first meeting, customers are likely to balk because they have not yet seen your expertise or service firsthand. Later requests for referrals may be seen as pushy when you make the first one too early. Great times to try to get referrals include during your follow-up calls to ensure excellent customer service experiences or when customers mention that friend or family member has a similar need. This allows you to quickly deliver customer service, show expertise, and get referrals all at one time simply by telling your current customers that you believe you can help their acquaintances.

Sales professionals have a variety of tools in their arsenals. Following the customer from initial contact through satisfied response is a great way to build customer service. You should strive to always position yourself as a problem solver and an expert in your market and try to get referrals at the right time. A focus on building better relationships with clients is a surefire way to help drive up the number of high-quality customer referrals you receive.



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