By Stacey Brown Randall
No, I am not talking about Snapchat or Periscope or some other latest social media channel.
And no, I am not talking about cold calling either (it is rarely misunderstood and definitely not powerful).
So what is the most powerful tactic within a sales and marketing strategy?
And why is it misunderstood?
The most powerful tactic but least utilized is referral marketing.
But most people only dabble in it—they get a few referrals here and there, so they don’t take it seriously as the powerful tactic that it is.
Just about every business can benefit from a referral marketing strategy, but there are a few keys you must know if you truly want to understand, leverage and capitalize on referrals.
Eighty-four percent of people trust referrals and recommendations from people they know (Nielsen). Referrals work so well because of the trust factor. Referral marketing is the only tactic in a sales and marketing strategy that leverages trust, and that trust is powerful. The trust a person feels for you and your business when they refer someone to you is transferred to the person who needs your service. Think of that trust as speed in your sales process. The prospect needing your services shows up already trusting you so she can move more quickly to get to know you and like you (the two other components in the sales process). Prospects that are referred are what I call “ready to go”—all that needs to be determined is if we are in fact the right people to work together and if I can truly help them solve their pains, issues or concerns.
My guess is you understand the transfer of trust in referrals. But you still aren’t leveraging referrals in your business. The reason for that could be because you fall victim to one or more of a few referral myths. These myths keep you from believing your business can have a steady and consistent stream of referrals. But a steady and consistent stream is completely possible and is my reality. In 2014, I received 112 referrals, in 2015, I received 99 referrals and in the first quarter of this year, I have received almost 40. But I am not an anomaly. As a business and productivity coach, my clients noticed the explosion of my business, and when asked what was causing the growth, I told them about my referral marketing strategy. Quickly, teaching others how to build, execute and sustain (by automation) referral growth in their business became a main focus of my coaching practices. It is thrilling to watch my clients have the same kind of success that I am having.
From having my first business failure more than five years ago, to having a second business that is healthy, growing and successful…the biggest difference is my referral marketing strategy.
So if you would love to increase and systematize referrals in your business, let’s take a moment to set the record straight on a referral myth or two you may be falsely believing.
Myth 1: To receive referrals, you have to always be asking.
False, false, false. If you are always asking for referrals, then you are doing it wrong. I teach my clients how to ask without asking so we can cultivate referrals by being authentic and staying top of mind. If some sales coach or boss told you that in order to get referrals, you need to ask every person you meet every single day, there is a reason you aren’t getting referrals…because that tactic doesn’t work and more than likely you refused to do it. (Good for you.)
Myth 2: Referrals are inherently inconsistent, so you can’t rely on them as a source for new clients.
I grew my referrals from 60 percent of my new client base to more than 85 percent and now I am closing in on 95 percent. Referral marketing is the main tactic in my sales and marketing strategy…it didn’t start that way, but I cultivated it so it is my main source of new coaching clients.
Myth 3: Referrals only work for B2C companies and professionals, not B2B.
Completely false. I was just working with a client the other day who runs a medical device company (they are a member of my Growth By Referrals online community). As we reviewed their strategy for the rest of 2016, they will leverage their centers of influence as new sources of referrals.
Myth 4: Referrals are the same as word-of-mouth buzz.
Nope. A referral has one key component that word of mouth is missing—the connection. When I refer someone to you, I don’t just tell them how great you are…I also send an e-mail (more likely) connecting the two of you together and letting you know why the person I am referring needs your help.
Stacey Brown Randall is founder of Business Growth Accelerator in Charlotte, North Carolina. Learn more at www.StaceyBrownRandall.com. Stacey is NAWBO-Charlotte’s current Community Affairs Director and incoming President-Elect.
Want to learn more about referral marketing? Download Stacey’s complimentary guide on the Four Reasons You Get Referrals & What to Do About It to learn the right answers, strategies and quick fixes to overcome your lack of business referrals here.