We all know how vital client referrals are to business. They are the best sales opportunity you can possibly get with a 50-70%* close rate - try getting that from Google AdWords or Facebook. But how do you get more of them?
After working with hundreds of clients on their Personal Brands and figuring out what gave them the most referrals, I have created a model to help everyone get more of these gold nuggets from their client base. It works like this...
My 8 step process to more business referrals with LinkedIn
Step 1) Ask for a referral: Duh! I know this is obvious, but definitely worth mentioning. Especially seeing a lot of clients find this part challenging. How I approach my clients is very subtly as it is better for them to give a referral when they want than when you ask for it. The key is that they know that you want them. I generally talk about how blessed I feel as my business runs purely on referrals and I really appreciate it when I get them. Plus I would love to work with more awesome clients just like them. I don't ask for names or any specific action, I want them to be able to spot opportunities when they are presented to them and give them my details because they want to, not because they feel obligated.
To boost this process on LinkedIn, if a client proactively sends me a nice message on email or in person, I reply with a thank you and would you mind saying the same thing on LinkedIn. This is the absolute best spot to store your referrals - better than your website - because it is seen as more independent. It also can then be used in many formats such as your website or brochures. Plus any potential clients who look me up in LinkedIn can see it.
Step 2) Clear Pitch. How do you explain your value proposition to people? If you can't explain your value proposition in less than 60 seconds then try my process below. I have won several pitch contests and judged enough pitch contests to know what works and when it doesn't. The one simple test I use is, can someone repeat your value proposition after you tell them. If not it might be to complex or not compelling enough. There is a very simple process I use to help my clients pitch in three steps: what's the problem, what is your solution to the problem and why should a client hire you to do it? This could be a 30 second elevator pitch or an hour long presentation - the format is the same. Simplicity is the key, break it down into what you really do for a client, not the ins and outs of how you do it. If you have your pitch expertly crafted then ensure your highly satisfied clients can repeat it, so they can spot an opportunity for you.
The pitch on LinkedIn starts with your Professional Headline or Tag line as I call it. This should succinctly answer these three questions. Then your Summary or biography fleshes out your pitch with more flavour and details.
Step 3) Recognise need. When your clients talk to their network do they spot opportunities for you? If no, then an issue could be a lack of unique language and specialisation in your business niche. When I am working with clients, I talk about my models and unique IP I have created. They read my language in my blog and social media and so can easily spot when a client mentions key words that trigger them to think of me. For example, I talk a lot about using your personal brand to attract opportunities, which could be referrals, staff, media, sponsorship etc So if a client is chatting to a friend who mentions they need more referrals or sponsorships my brand will pop into their heads. Just like when I see two yellow arches or the Nike swish - I know exactly what they mean. This requires you to know your brand intimately and repeat your beliefs often, if it is to sink in with your clients. Then when they spot a need during a conversation with a friend they will think of you.
If you are connected on LinkedIn with all of your clients, they can easily send your details to a friend and introduce you.
Step 4) Refer by name. When your client refers you to their friend of colleague, they will either mention you by your name or the company name. In the majority of cases it will be your personal name because you are the one providing the service and services by their nature are variable. Thus, the safest way to pass on the details is to give the specific name of the person they have worked with. For example, if I want to refer my awesome accountant to a contact I will say Oliver Williamson, not his company as I don't know if the other accounts there would fit my friends needs.
Regardless of if they mention your name or the business name, you need to be easily found when they search for your name. LinkedIn has the highest search SEO of any social media site. It comes up first for your name, so better make sure you look good!
Step 5) Look you Up: Once they have your name they will usually look you up online. This is common practice now and it will either be on Google or in an application such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or whatever is their favourite site. Here is the key: if you can't be found easily you will loose the opportunity. It is vital that you have a Personal Brand presence for your name. Your company will have already have a presence online and be easily found. But can they find you? Once they find you, you have to match or exceed the potential clients expectations for the service they want. This is where your tag line and biography is so important. If it isn't clear and matching what they want, they might not call and you have missed out on a new client.
For instance, imagine with my accountant that I said he was an expert at Xero and very modern in his accounting approach. But when you went to his LinkedIn profile it just said his tag like was "Accountant" and didn't mention anything about Xero. You might think you have the wrong person or that he didn't really specialise in that at all.
Step 6) Connect: It amazes me how many people who deal with clients don't have their contact details easily found on their Personal Brands, particularly LinkedIn. Make it easy for your potential clients to contact you, give them your email, phone number and website several times! Not only that, have a presence on many social media sites so they can find you where THEY want to search not where YOU want them to find you.
In LinkedIn there is a contact tab that should have all your contact information. But also put your email or phone number at the end of your summary and at the end of your company description. Don't assume they will read your whole profile, they might just scan it and if they can't find your details easily might not call. Don't learn this the hard way!
Step 7) Convert: Once the potential client has emailed or phoned you it is important to get a physical meeting. For most services businesses, you will need to get face to face in order to close the deal. The client wants to confirm that your digital brand is matched by the real brand of you before they commit.
Does your photo on LinkedIn look just like you, does the tone and style of your brand match you and is your language in writing the same as you speak? It is important to represent yourself as authentically as possible to ensure the prospect can be confident you are the right fit.
Step 8) Delighted clients. The most important part of the whole process is to end with some highly satisfied clients to ask for the referrals! This is where the loop can end and begin again. To get delighted clients we need a great product, high quality service and a history of clients. Great marketing doesn't replace a great work, it just tells more people about how average you are. If you are just starting out and don't yet have an industry leading product, provide amazing service. From my experience awesome service is MORE important than a great product to get more referrals.
A quick tip is to measure your clients need to score an 8, 9 or 10 out of ten on the question - how likely would you be to refer me to a friend or colleague. This is the basis for the Net Promoter Score and if you haven't read the awesome book, The Ultimate Question, do check it out.
There you have it, my eight step process to get more business referrals and how to boost this process using LinkedIn. If you want some more details or have questions on this process I am hosting a webinar on Thursday 6th November to cover this content in more depth and it's FREE for the first 100x people to sign u. You can join me live, ask me questions and learn more about building your referral engine by clicking here.
PS This webinar has limited places so please register early!
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