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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard Another Designer's Avatar
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    Asking for referrals?

    What’s the best way to ask a client for referrals?

    And what is the best way to follow up on referrals once they’ve been given?
    Two referrals have not turned into work yet.

  2. #2
    He's No Good To Me Dead silver trophybronze trophy stymiee's Avatar
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    Don't ask them, encourage them. Having a referal program that offers them discounts or free work is always encouraging. Even better would be providing them with a referal kit. Inside can be business cards and brochures that promote your servives.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
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    Referrals don't work unless they're genuine. People can just tell if you're giving a referral because you feel obligated to, or because you're elated with the quality and service you received.

    I have yet to "solicit" referrals, yet 98% of my business comes from referrals. All but two projects in the last 2 years have been on referral.

    Of course, John made an excellent point also. When you finish a project you should do a couple of things to ensure the client is happy, and will provide referrals. The first, ask them how you did. Survey them (either by sending a letter or calling) to see where you could improve your process for future projects/clients. Brendon Sinclair talks about surveying in his latest email from SitePoint. Quoted below (it's not linked on SP.com yet)

    Quote Originally Posted by Brendon Sinclair
    Why a Survey can be so Beneficial

    I've just looked at a video of myself giving a public speech. It was the first time I've seen a video of myself in action and it was hugely beneficial to me to see what the audience sees. It was perfect feedback!

    Like anything we do in business, feedback -- quality feedback -- is critical if we are to get better, and provide a better service to our clients. A happy client equates to more repeat business and more referrals. A happy client means a more successful business.

    But just how do you get client feedback? That's easy: ask.

    Surveys are beneficial for a whole range of reasons:
    • You get great information on how your business is perceived.
    • Your surveyed clients are more likely to become repeat buyers.
    • Your surveyed clients are less likely to leave your business.
    • Your surveyed clients are likely to be more profitable.
    You see, it's all about relationships. Keep in contact with your clients, take an interest, stay involved, and you'll be seen as part of their team rather than just another supplier.
    Second, send them a "referral kit" as John mentiond. Include some business cards, and a nice letter to them thanking them for their business. Either ask them to give your cards to anyone who might need your services (pretty much asking for a referral) or just include the cards. They know what they're for.

    Third, keep in contact with your clients. Send them newsletters, birthday cards, christmas or holiday cards, etc. Call them to see how their site is doing, just to check in. Stay in their thoughts, so when they do hear that someone needs the services you provide, you'll be the first person they think about. And since you've given them such personal service, they'll recommend you in a second!

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    A few 'flashbacks' come to mind:

    1.
    It happens without fail every time i meet a realtor. I flip their business card over and see: "Remember!! I am more than happy to take care of *your* referrals!!".

    2.
    My friend purchased a car not too long ago. He had a good enough experience with the salesman and would've told anyone who asked.

    A few weeks go by and he gets a 'Thank You' letter from the salesman, included are a few business cards. My friend thought nothing much of it. ("Hmm.. nice guy..") and filed them away.

    Another few weeks pass... he gets another letter with a STACK of business cards from the salesman... this time asking if he knows anyone who might be interested blah blah blah. Needless to say, over the next months he received more letters w/ 1 million biz. cards asking for referalls.

    He threw them away each time and will never do business with that guy again.

    Quote Originally Posted by beley
    Third, keep in contact with your clients. Send them newsletters, birthday cards, christmas or holiday cards, etc. Call them to see how their site is doing, just to check in. Stay in their thoughts, so when they do hear that someone needs the services you provide, you'll be the first person they think about. And since you've given them such personal service, they'll recommend you in a second!
    I think everything Brandon said here is right on.

    Give your clients impeccable service. Do everything you can to make their experience pleasurable/hassle-free. They'll be raving about you all day.

    -Costas

    PS - You might want to check out Andrew Neitlich's "IT Acceleration Manual" at www.itprosuccess.com . He goes into detail about creating a 'referral machine' for your business.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Here's an idea any business can use to get more referrals!

    All great advice from the other guys, and I just had to share a great example of a local realtor who keeps his name in front of people and gets remembered.

    Check out the following post card I just got in the mail today, and think of ways you can use the same approach in your business.



    I absolutely just love what they've done here! Working together with another local business, the secured a special discount for their clients which will certainly help them be remembered, and the business making the offer is getting free advertising since I would imagine the realtor is taking care of the production and mailing expenses.

    It's tied in beautifully with Valentines Day which is right around the corner and it includes a very soft approach to asking for referrals. I absolutely love it, and think this could be used by just about any business!

    Cheers,

    Steve
    Web Designer or Small Business Owner?
    Need More Leads and More Clients?
    Get Free Marketing Tips, Tricks and Ideas Here!

  6. #6
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    That is pretty great!

    I think strategic partnerships could be the way to go, since most of us provide services and not products. Partnership, anyone?
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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