Generating Referrals: Try These Five Easy Methods for Encouraging Customer Recommendations

By Johnson's, Tory | Success, October 2013 | Go to article overview

Generating Referrals: Try These Five Easy Methods for Encouraging Customer Recommendations


Johnson's, Tory, Success


* WHEN I moved to New York City 20 years ago, I needed a dentist. I asked a colleague to recommend someone. She enthusiastically referred me to her dentist, and I still go to him. So do my brother and sister-in-law. And her sister and brother-in-law.

Referrals--personal recommendations--have always been one of the most effective ways businesses attract clients, and today potential customers check strangers' reviews on the Internet as well as seek referrals in old-style conversations like the one that led me to my dentist. Here are five ways to encourage recommendations:

1. Remind customers to post online reviews.

Marci Zimmerman, founder of Delete tattoo-removal service in Phoenix and Boston, says online Yelp reviews garner more clients for her than any other source. Her staff encourages customers to candidly share their experiences online. Building a web following also helps your business appear higher in web search-engine results without paying a cent.

2. Ask directly for the referral.

Florida business coach Jennifer Lee suggests ending every encounter or telephone conversation with a satisfied customer (or business associate or mentor) by asking at least one of these questions: Who else? Where else? What else? "You invite the other person to be part of your growth," Lee says.

First, "who else" (a company or an individual) could benefit from my products or services? "Most of the time," Lee says, "they'll think of someone, and in the same breath they'll say, 'I should connect the two of you.'"

Next, "where else" do you think I should be networking? "If they recommend an event, you can meet there and walk around together for introductions," she says.

Third, "what else" would help me get more traffic? "When they feel that they are a valuable part of your solution, they move mountains to make it happen for you. …

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