A sign hangs on my mechanic's office wall that reads:
"If you're happy with our service, please tell a friend. If you're not, please tell us."
This sign succinctly sums up the fact that the most efficient and cost-effective way for you to increase your market share is to expand your sales team to include your most satisfied clients.
Your business can only sustainably thrive when it not only satisfies today's customers, but also attracts and recruits more for tomorrow. No matter your type of business, it simply cannot survive on a series of one-off sales.
Turning customers into promoters
At EMyth, we focus on what author and loyalty expert, Fred Reichheld, has identified as "the Net Promoter Score," a calculation based on the percentage of surveyed clients who, on a 1-to-10 scale, rate a 9 or 10 for their response to the question: "How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?" Those in this "highly likely" range are our most effective outside sales team and can help us grow our business.
The best lead in any business is a recommendation from an already existing customer. In fact, the most valuable lead you can get is a referred lead, because referrals tend to be more trusting and thus they're more likely to buy: "My buddy, Joe, says you're the one to call." That, my friends, is the sound of a qualified, hot lead.
You need to be intentional in creating impressions that compel your clients to talk to their friends and associates about their positive experiences with you. But with that comes responsibility: you've made an unspoken pact with your "promoters" to not only guarantee a consistently high level of satisfaction to them, but to everyone else they refer to you as well.
This responsibility is not to be taken lightly. It requires a strategy and a system to guarantee success. Take a look at your current system for getting referrals. Do you even have one? At a minimum, you should write a general statement outlining your overall referral strategy for your company; describe the status of any referral business you're currently generating; identify any potential barriers and how they can be overcome; and brainstorm some initial targets and goals.
If your clients feel they've received true value for their money and have been treated with care and respect, then they'll feel that it's worthwhile to do business with you and they'll want their friends and associates to enjoy the same experience. A good referral system will present you with an ongoing stream of pre-qualified leads eager to do business with you. All you have to do is reinforce the positive thoughts and feelings the referral already has, deliver the product as promised and, if possible, exceed their expectations.
Give them something "extra"
Because promoters are so valuable in growing your revenues and building your customer base, you may want to offer them a little something "extra" to encourage your referral business.
Think carefully about what kind of offer you could extend to the promoters of your business, and remember two key words: motivation and appreciation. For example, some companies may offer: "When you refer a friend, we'll give you 15% off your next purchase!"
If you acknowledge your appreciation for your valued clients you'll be rewarded with greater customer loyalty, while the snowball affect from the combined referrals from both satisfied original clients and their friends will exponentially increase your number of new prospects.
The result? An ever-expanding network of new promoters who'll help increase your market share and sustainably grow your business.
- Your best sources of referrals are your most satisfied customers
- Identify who is "highly likely" to recommend you to a friend
- Develop, test, and document your referral system
- Show your appreciation to valued clients