How important are referrals to the growth of your small business? Huge! For starters there is the “Pareto Principle,” that is, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. That means that you need at least one fifth of your customers telling others about you – referring new business to you. If you’re not doing that it is much more difficult for your small business to prosper and more expensive when it comes to your small business promotion.

If you’re not working hard to cultivate referrals, you could lose a lot of potential business. Therefore here are Five Dynamic Ways To get More Referrals by putting them at the center of your marketing efforts.

One: Send Referrals To Others
Gather the business cards of everyone who comes into see you, or with whom you make contact. This includes all your vendors and suppliers, then start referring business their way. The key is to make sure you ask the people you send to them to say that they were sent, or referred by you. Other business owners can’t help but be grateful for what you’re doing for them, especially if they didn’t ask you to help out. They’ll have powerful motivation to return the favor by sending customers back to you.

Two: Send Gifts
Rewarding people to bring you referrals is important before and AFTER they do what you ask. If a client refers a friend to you, send a gift, a thank you note, a certificate for a free meal at a restaurant, movie tickets. Along with the gift, be very specific about telling them what the gift is for – to thank them for the referral. You don’t have to make your gift expensive, just meaningful. You could also, joint venture with others to provide gifts – team up with a restaurant to provide free dinners in exchange for sending more people their way.

Three: Educate Your Customers
Make an effort to let your customer know about everything you do and any product you sell. For example if you are a tour operator you may sell a lot more than just half day or one-day tours. Even if your customer has no need or desire for another of your products, they might know someone who does, and they often say so. This is also a good way to work in a referral request. You can follow up their response by saying, “By the way, did you know we also sell X?” If the customer is not interested in X, then ask: “Do you know anybody who is?”

Four: Train Your Employees To Get Referrals
Make sure your sales staff know the value of referrals, and train them in as many referral methods as you can. Very often, a single referral has the value of 10 or 20 phone calls because a referral is rarely a cold customer. When your sales staff realizes how easy it is to sell to referred customers, they’ll take off with this technique, and even develop new referral methods of their own.

Five: Appreciation Prompters
When you make a big sale to a VIP customer, send them flowers or a set of balloons – not to their homes, but to their place of work. Just about every co-worker will stop by their desk or cubical ask about the flowers or balloons wondering if it’s a special day, like a birthday or anniversary. Of course, the customer will tell the co-worker they came from you! That’s a dynamite referral! This is a great idea for consumers as well as your trade partners i.e. suppliers or vendors (especially when they send you 10 or 20 referrals), whom you work with on a regular basis.

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