7 Steps to More Referrals
Since it’s generally easier to sell to a referral, because someone they know gave positive testimonial about you and/or your product or service, wouldn’t it be great to get more referrals? Let’s see how the pros set up a revolving door for their referrals.
1. ASK: Direct Mail
Set up a system to regularly ask for referrals so that you can maintain a steady stream of business. But don’t just ask after a sale. Ask for referrals EVERY time you come in contact with someone. And be creative. In other words, instead of asking, “Do you have any referrals?” Try this. Include a couple of business cards in your initial sales letter and ask the reader to pass them out to friends. Or include a “PS” or “PSS” at the bottom of your letter inviting the reader to post your letter on the church bulletin board.
With possible mail contamination these days, send a simple postcard asking for referrals. Marketer Bob Leduc, an expert in postcard marketing, creates mini-newsletters on postcards. People can read more if they click online or request reports. And Leduc reports that over 95% of people look at postcards. A quick glance is easy to attract with even simple creations from a home computer. You can create a little ad about yourself and your product, then insert a balloon or Red Tag Special graphic with the words: Pssst – tell your friends! Or “Pass this along to your neighbor!”
For direct response, include a special self-addressed, stamped, return Referral Post Card with every mailing. Insert blank spaces on the card where people can write in referral names and contact information. A visit or call to a local store like Best Buy could help you find software like Microsoft Publisher and Broderbund’s PrintShop to create postcards.
Have a referral script ready by your home and business telephone, even in your cell phone case. Then you will be ready for a caller and remember to ASK for referrals. HINT: be ready to WRITE them down. This means have tools ready like a pen or pencil and paper. Or have already prepared referral cards printed up and next to your phones. Then you can just fill in the blanks with name, phone, e-mail, etc.
You can vary your script, too, by saying something like, “We’re having a special promotion this month and our home office has asked us to submit referrals.” That can get YOU off the hook, making your employer be the one who is looking for business.
And add referral script to your other client phone call scripts. In other words, know what to say to clients who call in about their accounts so that you can prospect for referrals. Write in that PS – “Oh, by the way, which of your relatives could use this insurance report?”
Know what to say to new callers who are not even sold yet themselves – everybody has a contact to share… “Sure, I’ll send you more information. Your neighbor could benefit, too. What’s the house number of the neighbor you know best on your street?”
PS - Keep away from those “Yes” “No” answers like “Do you have any referrals?”
3. During Appointments
BE PREPARED – like the Boy Scouts. Have referral cards and writing tools ready when people come into your office. Tell them (don’t ask) to fill the card out while you get…something (your visitor a beverage, a product brochure, a piece of candy, anything – but get up and leave for a moment). Keep these referral cards in the open for IMMEDIATE use.
Be creative with your strategy. For instance, if your visitor is a mom with small children in tow, offer her a break by giving the children crayons and a coloring pages – again, BE PREPARED here and have them in stock. Then casually mention to the mom, “Oh, so that I don’t forget, home office needs 3 referrals by the end of the day, or I’m toast. So you can fill this out while I pass around these coloring pages…”).
HINT: check online for up-to-date coloring pages for kids on Crayola.com or type in a search engine “coloring pages.” Then you can download your own copies, puzzles, too for older teenage guests. Womens-Finance.com even has insurance coloring pages for kids.
Conduct a survey and ask for referrals. First focus on an area for your survey to cover. You could inform your prospects that you are in the process of creating new marketing packages and would like their input for future pricing. Ask them how they’d prefer reminders to examine their policies – via e-mail, phone or postcard. There are numerous topics on which to focus a survey. Ask a librarian for books on surveys or conduct a search for “insurance surveys” over the Internet for more ideas.
Then choose a method or methods to conduct your survey. You can conduct your survey by placing a poll online with help from Yahoo Groups! Or design your own online form on a page of your website. You could e-mail the survey and ask for it to be e-mailed back with responses. Or you could fax or regular (postal) mail the survey – include a return, stamped envelope here. Telephone calls work, too.
Bottom line: no matter which method you use, ALWAYS ask for referrals so that when your responses come back, you’ll have referrals, too. Add a section to your online form where the responder can type in referral contact information. Add a referral box to your fax, mailers and e-mails. And have phone callers ASK for referrals, again NOT in a “YES” “NO” manner. But rather in reply to: we are polling members in the area for an accurate representation. What are the addresses of two other people in your zip code that would benefit from our savings? (Maybe ask for one at a time…see how many you can get. Some people will open up their address books).
5. Reward / Incentive
Give rewards or offer something in exchange for referrals; a free report, booklet, a Million Dollar Bill, entry in a drawing or ebook. Make a report on the survey you took. Include the results in a booklet or ebook with information about your products, company and you. Crisp, new Million Dollar Bills are fun to collect and pass along at holiday time. Give a new Bill for each referral. Or create a gift basket and fill it with all those samples of soap, toothpaste, dishwashing liquid and detergent that arrived in your mailbox last year and host a drawing. There are all kinds of items to give away in all budget ranges.
Design an incentive campaign with small cards about the size of a business card that will fit easily into a wallet. Include small circles on the card that can be punched out with a hole-punch – one for each referral. When all of the circles are punched, the card-holder gets a prize. You could send stickers for the card instead of using hole punches, for clients you don’t see often.
You can also team up with others for incentive programs. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce for companies who sell incentive / reward merchandise. Check with local groups, too, like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and local schools. Remember those kids who go door-to-door selling candy bars and greeting? They earn points to buy comic books, CDs and more through incentive companies. See what your customers’ points could earn.
6. Become an Expert
That survey you took can make you an expert in that area. Get your name out there and share the results – speak at community events, business luncheons, organization meetings, etc. Then hand out your referral incentive plan, referral cards, business cards, etc. during your presentation. Have packages of information that include these items on hand to pass out.
Then take pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard and write up the results. Send out a press release, article or column. You don’t need to be a professional writer. Put your ideas on paper and your contact information and send them in to local media for publication. Check with your local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America for resources and tips on how to write up pieces for publication and where and how to send them for publication.
Go a step further and make writing up your industry news a habit. Send summaries of news updates to local media, telling readers to contact you for more info. And offering free reports upon request. Media love to give away freebies to their readers. So you’ll both be helping each other.
7. 24 / 7
Be available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week to beat your competition. Does this mean you need to answer your phone at 2 AM? No! Use 24 voicemail, autoresponders and fax on demand.
Voicemail comes in many forms today. Not only do phone companies offer programs, but online companies do, too. Places like Accessline Communications allow you to consolidate your cell phone, home and business phone and pager to one number. You can view faxes and voicemail oneline or forward the messages as e-mail.
To keep up with your e-mail, you can set up autoresponders. Check any search engine for “autoresponders” and try a couple. You can have prospects send an e-mail to your account that will generate an e-mail back to them complete with the free download they’ve requested. Let the autoresponder work for you and help out.
So check around. You can access your information in a variety of ways and keep in touch with your prospects to let them know you think they are important. But remember, ALWAYS ask for referrals, even 24/7. Have all voicemail, faxes, e-mails and autoresponder messages request referral information. It’s a continual process to bring steady prospects to your door – virtual and real.
Small Business Wizards www.smallbusinesswizards.com/how_to_write_sales_letters.htm
Find lots of articles, business tips and sales / marketing aids here for your letters and prospecting scripts.
Web Source http://www.web-source.net
Find tons of helpful articles here and FREE ebooks for your prospects. Place them online and have them enter their e-mail address (for follow up purposes, of course!) to log on and download or receive via their e-mail.
Small Business Wizards http://www.smallbusinesswizards.com
Phone: (702) 658-1707 (After 10 AM Pacific time)
Or write: Bob Leduc, PO Box 33628, Las Vegas, NV 89133
Leduc’s simple postcard recipe:
are a few postal regulations for postcards concerning size, paper thickness and
paper color. The minimum size for a postcard is 3 1/2 inches high by 5 inches
long. The maximum size is 4 1/4 inches high by 6 inches long. A standard 4 x 6
index card can be mailed at the postcard rate. A 3 x 5 index card cannot be
mailed because it is less than the minimum size of 3 1/2" x 5". A
standard 8 1/2"x 11" sheet of index stock paper cut into 4 equal
pieces will produce four 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 postcards that qualify for postcard
The minimum paper thickness is 0.007 inches and the maximum is 0.0095 inches. Don't try to figure out the technicalities of paper thickness. Just use paper with thickness similar to an index card and you will be well within specifications. For those who want to be more precise, use paper designated as 67# card stock (pronounced 67 "pound" card stock) or any paper designated as index stock.
Paper used for a postcard can be any light color that does not prevent legible addresses and postmarks from being placed on the card. I've found light blue, light green, yellow, pink and tan/buff colors to be best. Postal Service regulations prohibit using "brilliant" colors.
Womens-Finance.com – click here for insurance coloring pages: http://www.womens-finance.com/coloringpages
Yahoo! Groups - http://groups.yahoo.com - conduct a poll.
Public Relations Society of America http://www.prsa.org
Accessline Communications http://www.accessline.com consolidate voicemail, e-mail, fax
Adobe Central http://www.adobe.com/epaper/ebooks/main.html - how to create your own ebooks