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Agency Leadership

Are you asking your clients or strategic partners for referrals?

By August 28, 2012 No Comments

Asking for referrals can be an efficient and effective way to gain more business

One of the most effective ways to grow business is through asking for referrals. Approaching loyal current clients or strategic partners to ask them if they know of others who would benefit from your agency’s services is not only effective, it’s highly efficient because it reduces your overall cost of sale.

It’s common for agencies to seek to fill their new business pipeline with unidentified new clients business, it’s not so common for agencies to have a honed system in place for seeking new clients by approaching ‘already known’ sources. But this is a missed opportunity.

Asking for referrals doesn’t need to be ‘hard sell’ if it’s approached in the right way:

1. Create a profile of your ideal client

It’s difficult to ask people to refer you to anyone if you’re unclear what your target looks like. Are you looking for local or international business? What type of business entity do you want to work with? What characteristics and culture does your ideal client have? What kinds of problems does your ideal client have that you’re able to solve well?

2. Make a list of the clients and partners who could help

Who are you working with now or have worked with in the past who are your biggest fans? Don’t try to start by approaching your newest client, start with people who have worked with you for a long time and who you have a solid relationship with.

3. Approaching partners for referrals

You may be part of a network group and have partners with whom you could offer complementary services to similar clients. You may also have suppliers who you have worked with for years who’s client base overlaps with yours. You can kick-start the conversation with “how do you think we could help one another with new business?”.

4. Ask clients via a relationship evaluation process

It’s sometimes easier to ask loyal clients for referrals as part of a relationship evaluation review process i.e. amongst other questions regarding their feedback on your services, you could ask if they’d be willing to a) provide a testimonial for your house promotion or b) if they could think of someone who would benefit from an introduction to the agency.

Always ensure your client is 100{3e234da05fbbdc43a47fef4bb820620bdc41c4d21ad7649eedb08be0e65da68e} happy with your agency first before asking them to refer you to someone else. There may agree to refer or recommend you to someone but may have caveats e.g. your agency is better suited to small scale projects due to your team size etc. Make sure you know what those caveats are!

5. Don’t put pressure on your referee

There is a fine line between asking for a referral and being pushy and too ‘salesy’. Get the balance right. Make it clear that it’s ok if they are not comfortable providing a referral.

6. Always follow up with your referee

If you do get a referral, always make sure you follow up afterwards with your referee to let them know how it went. It’s their contact and their relationship and reputation.

Although many agencies steer away from asking for referrals for fear of being too ‘hard sell’, there is a time and a place for asking for referrals.

So what about your agency? How are you leveraging your current satisfied clients and strong relationships with strategic partners to your advantage?


Author Jenny

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