Reading time ( words)
Most people will tune you out when you tell them how great your company is. They will even turn you off if you spend too much time talking about all of the great things your company can do for them. And they will practically throw you out of their office when you start to pull the dreaded PowerPoint presentation out of your bag!
They expect you to tell them how great your company is—you are, after all, there to sell them on your company and its services, so they would be shocked if you did anything but that—and that’s the problem. They don’t really care what you say when it comes to talking about your company, to the point where it only becomes a bunch of blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada to them—sort of like the parent voices in Peanuts.
So, what are you supposed to do about it? How do you get your message across to them if they tune you out when you even begin to talk about your company? Simple: You get other people to talk about your company. You get your best customers to tell your potential customers about your products and services. There is nothing more powerful that a customer’s testimonial or a customer’s service story.
Look, it’s pretty simple. People like to hear what other people have to say about a product they are thinking of buying. We all do it, right?
When you’re planning to buy a new car, you are going to talk to people who have the same brand and model of that car. Hell, you’ll even stop a woman in the supermarket parking lot and ask her about her new Lexus if you are thinking of buying one for yourself. And most importantly, you might actually base your buying decision on what that person says to you in the three-minute conversation. You will take that person’s opinion much more seriously than the millions of dollars in advertising that Lexus has spent promoting their newest model.
You’ll do the same thing with just about any other major purchase you are considering. We place much more value on the opinion of someone who uses that product than anything the product’s manufacturer has to say. The same applies in our business today. We can tell our customers about our great product until we are blue in the face, but it is not going to amount to a proverbial hill of beans when compared with what our current customers say about us.
Now, I hope we all have some happy, satisfied customers…some “best customers.” If you don’t, or if you feel that none of your customers will want to say nice things about you, then you have much more serious problems and you should go take care of those problems before you try to sell anything to anyone. The old “we’re no worse than anyone else” justification has no place in business and no place in the referral business.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to asking your satisfied customers for referrals. In his new book High-Profit Prospecting, Mark Hunter gives us a four-step plan for getting referrals from customers:
- Ask for referrals. Every time the customer sees value in what you’re selling is a time when you should ask for a referral.
- Connect with the referral. Ideally, the person who gives you the name will connect the two of you through an email or phone call. Even if that is not the case, following up as soon as possible is showing respect to the person who referred you.
- Keep the person who gave you the referral in the loop. Don’t keep the person who gave you the referral in the dark. By keeping them in the loop you will encourage them to provide you with more referrals.
- Be appreciative each step along the way. Nothing you do will create more referrals along the way than showing appreciation to each person in the process.
Once again, there is no better way to get new business than to have your current satisfied customers tell other customers about your products and services.
One final thing: Good referrals are based on good service—actually, outstanding service. You have to be good enough that your customers will be proud and happy to be giving out your contact information to others. You have to be good enough so that your customers actually feel so smart for using your products and services that they want to tell everyone about you and your company.
It’s only common sense.