How to clone and multiply your existing clients

Ah, referrals. I can’t think of a more powerful selling tool. I also can’t think of any other part of the sales process people seem to hate more.

It’s a fact: People would rather book someone they have seen or heard of than a total stranger. So if we all know the magic of referrals, which offer instant credibility, why don’t more entertainers use referrals effectively?

You see, for whatever reason, many don’t bother with referrals. Maybe they just assume their clients will pass along good words about them.

They hope to get referrals, of course, but they don’t overtly do anything about it. So when a project is done, they just walk away, leaving half their dinner on the plate.

Why? Mainly because it’s harder than it sounds. Unless that is, you take some awesome advice from someone who does it on a regular basis, and as an integral part of their sales process.

How to ask

Imagine your past clients as an infinite web of relationships. Every one of your customers has the potential to connect you to dozens of other contacts. The relationships are out there, but they’ll likely remain out of reach unless you actively pursue them.

On the other side of the table, the client has his or her own concerns – and none of them have anything to do with helping to grow your business and get you more clients. But assuming that you’ve done good work and the client is satisfied with your performance, it’s not that they don’t want to help you out; it’s that it never enters their minds…Unless you ask them!

It’s up to you to put the brilliant idea of referring you in their heads (and starting with exceptional customer service as well as an awe-inspiring act is a great start).

When you first start out its true, asking for referrals can be about as comfortable as a trip for an annual medical. This is where you need to change your thinking; there’s nothing embarrassing, pushy or smarmy about it. Remember: People won’t give you referrals unless you deserve them. In fact, getting a referral is the highest compliment you can receive.

Do you want to get more clients? Then set aside your squeamishness and force yourself to get in the habit of asking for a referral from every satisfied customer.

How to Get Over Your Fear of Asking for Referrals:

  • Remember that most people like to help other people (if there is no negative cost to them).
  • Remind yourself that the worst that can happen is that the client says, “No”. That’s not too terrible, is it?
  • Make asking for a referral part of your process. With most business, there’s a last contact with the client, or a follow up call – a perfect time to ask for a referral.

So how do I do it?

Let me break it down. Asking for referrals has become a habit, something we do regularly and so it has become something we are very relaxed doing.

Firstly I sow the seed in their mind at the point of booking. One of the first things I ask during an enquiry is ‘ where have you us or been recommended to me by someone? The reason I ask is that almost all of my work comes through recommendation”.

This opens up the idea that I get recommendations. Plus it also lets them know that I must be good if most my work comes from this source.

Most people are ok with the notion of sending out quotations. How about putting in a line that says ‘As you can see, we do things quite differently and so after we finish our project, we would love it if you could introduce us to other people who are looking to have an impact on their business, just like you.’

By saying this at the time of booking, again this instils confidence that we’ll be good. It also opens the door up to the conversation when we ask for the introduction.

If your client is raving about you after you are done, respond with a thank you, quickly followed by a referral request. For example, “I’m so pleased the project went so well for you. Do you know anyone else who can benefit from my services?” Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to propel referrals. If you want to get your clients shouting from the rooftops about your services, you have to dazzle them. But if you do, they will always refer you to their friends and colleagues because it is in our very nature to be helpful.

Always be specific when asking for a referral. If you don’t tell your contacts who your target customer is, you’ll waste time pursuing leads you can’t use. Referrals come in all sorts of different forms and flavours.

If someone merely provides you a name and email address, that’s really just a lead. But if a customer actively talks up your offering, sets up a meeting or brings the prospect in the door, that’s the daddy of all referrals you are looking for.

Get back to basics and always thank someone personally who has given you a converted referral. Maybe even think about offering a discount if they use you again. Win win.

Give and you shall receive. One of the most powerful ways to elicit referrals is to give them generously yourself. Whenever you have the opportunity to refer a client or bring two contacts together, do so. Most people will appreciate the referral, and it may inspire them to respond in kind.

The fortune is in the follow up as they say. So don’t let the quest for referrals end at the close of business. I’m not advocating asking for a referral at the same time you send your invoice but do contact clients after – ask them how they are doing and how your work has impacted on their business success. If you are a huge fan of automating things with auto responders and scheduled emails then use it to your advantage.

News flash: The referral is the number-one tool in your marketing tool kit so get in the habit of reaching for it.