January 28, 2016

Maximize your referrals in 2016 by asking at the right time

BY John Paul Narowski IN Sales and Marketing 0 Comment

Most sales reps, entrepreneurs, coaches, and other professionals don’t ask clients for referrals. It’s not because it’s not effective and it’s not because clients are unwilling to give referrals. The fact is that asking for referrals is a task that makes even the toughest sales reps squeamish because it often feels and comes off as a pushy, overly aggressive, and selfish ask.

Here at karmaCRM, we’ve been working with our existing clients to generate warm leads via referrals and have seen some great results. Referrals can be a great lead source for business consultants, freelancers, solopreneurs, coaches, startups, and most SMB’s, so we wanted to share with you our process for attracting referral leads.

Ask at the right time

The best referrals come from your happiest customers right after they’ve experienced their “aha” moment with your product/service and have made a purchase. The moment when your customer or client is thinking “This is worth every penny!” is the moment you need to strike. Now, this requires first doing great business, which is a topic we discussed in last week’s post “Generating Referral Sales Starts with Doing Great Business”.

This point could be right after you deliver your product/service or when your product/service starts to show real results. It’s up to you to find the “aha!” moment that your product or service offers and strike while your customer is excited about you.

Don’t ask for a favor, do them a favor

Picking the right time to ask for a referral helps you in two key ways.

First, it makes asking for the referral 100x easier because you can frame the conversation as you doing your customer and your customers network a favor instead of the other way around.

Check out a sample conversation from a recent karmaCRM customer below:

Client: “Thanks so much for the helping me set things up! We have a nontraditional CRM setup, so the fact that karmaCRM could handle our off the wall needs is astounding to me. Thanks a ton for your help!”

Brandon: “No problem! I’m glad to see here how well everything is going. I know it’s tough trying to figure out how to best apply a CRM to your individual business needs. I’ve certainly heard some CRM search horror stories! I’ve talked to people that had been searching for months!”

Client: “That’s all too true. We ourselves tried about 15 different solutions before finding karmaCRM. I wouldn’t wish that on my friends or my worst enemies”

Brandon: “Wow! I can’t imagine going through so many solutions! Oh wait, I did the same thing with project management apps so I feel your pain!

You know, if you have any friends or colleagues that are looking for a CRM or may be looking for a CRM in the future you can refer them to me and I’d be happy to reach out with a helping hand.”

Client: “Actually, I know a few people who are desperate for a good solution….”

In this situation, since I made the ask while the client was overjoyed with our product, the client was more than happy to refer me to their network. I completely changed the situation from a awkward situation in which I was asking my client for a favor, into just another way I could add value to our customers lives.

Picking the right time to ask for a referral also means that you’re going to receive your most excited and your best customer referrals. You can think of your referring customer as an extension of your sales team. The more excited your sales team is and the more confident they are in the product, the better their pitch will be. You can ensure your referring customer is at his/her most enthusiastic by asking them for referrals at the right time.

Grab a testimonial or online review

I try to talk to at least 20-25 of our onboarding users every week to ensure I’m understanding our customers, their pain points, and ensuring they are onboarding smoothly. What I also learn during these calls is how often a lead has researched our platform on various review sites such as Capterra, Software Advice, or G2Crowd. I would estimate about 50% of our incoming customers have researched karmaCRM on a review sites and have been influenced by those reviews. In a world with 100’s of ways for potential customers to check reviews, testimonials, it’s important to have a great reputation on the web. Asking your happy customers for testimonials and positive reviews when they’re at their happiest is important as well.

The key to a great testimonial is to ensure that the testimonial covers the common hesitations a user would have regarding your service. In order to do that, keep these questions in mind when asking for testimonials and reviews.

  1. What were your major concerns or hesitations that may have stopped you from buying our product/service?
  2. What was the #1 benefit of buying our product/service?
  3. What results did you receive from buying our product/service?
  4. Would you recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague?

Continue to add value and nurture your relationships. Then ask again!

Not everyone you ask for a referral will know someone off the top of their head that they can refer you to. That’s why it’s important to continue to add value to the lives of your customers while continuing to nudge them toward referring you to their friends and colleagues.

You should already be striving to keep in regular contact with your customers and contacts through email marketing, or even better, personalized emails, social engagement, and even the occasional phone call. Sending a old client tips, advice, relevant blog articles, and even referrals of your own are great ways to continue to add value to the lives of your old customers.

You can use reminders, tasks, and events to remember to follow – up with old customers and clients in order to remember to stay at the top of their mind.

Follow up Question: Should I offer a incentive?

Incentives may work in certain situations, however your very best referrals are going to come from people that want to refer you whether you’re paying for the referral or not. Having a referral system with incentives is certainly a useful tactic, however, you should still be mindful of when, and how you ask for referrals.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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