How do you feel about asking someone you know for a referral?
Are you aware that this is the best form of advertising?
Think now to a time in the past when you have asked a trusted friend or colleague to recommend a service or product. Why did you ask them? Probably because you trusted and respected their judgement, knowing they would recommend someone that would provide a good, quality driven service or to save on cost. The person that they recommended did not have to do anything to gain you as a client, which meant no costs incurred on marketing (and good customer service of course).
Therefore, put the shoe on the other foot and imagine now that it is your service that someone has highly recommended. The person coming to you does not need you to influence and persuade them, because the person who referred them to you has already done that for you.
Of course this does mean that you have to constantly ensure that you are building a professional reputation and if you are a new VA, then you can just inform people that you offer a money back guarantee which tells people how confident you are in delivering a great service.
What to consider:
Where possible, do what you can to give quality referrals to your contacts so that you show you are willing to support them in return. Ensure that you only give quality referrals otherwise your reputation will be affected.
Good practice when someone refers a contact to you, ask the following questions:
- In what capacity do you know this person? Or what is your relationship with this person? (You want to establish if this is a lead or a referral)
- Is it OK if I call this person direct or would you prefer to call them and make an introduction? Do you mind if I just check how you will be introducing me?
- When I call them, is it OK to mention your name?
Always say thank you verbally or secondly in a letter (not email) to whomever referred a new client to you. If they have put themselves out to support you, the least you can do is put yourself out to say thanks. I always suggest having a small stack of thank you cards with stamps on, ready to go, all that needs to be done is write in it. With so many e-cards being sent, receiving something in the post means more.
Track where referrals come from. Therefore on the Contact Form or Enquiry Form on your website, ensure you have a question “How did you hear about us?” or remember to ask people when you speak to them.
Through any of your networking activity both online and in person, who do you know that can offer you a referral? This means being very clear with them the type of contacts you are looking for and how you can help those people.? Look at ways in which you are genuinely prepared or able to support them in return.
We will next look at the potential routes for successful referrals.
In the comments section below, please tell me about the good (and bad experiences) you have had as a result of referrals.