Most businesses take referrals for granted. Very few have a proactive plan for generating referrals. No matter the business, there’s no better sales lead than a referral from an happy customer. Here’s how to boost your IT services referral marketing and get your customers to start selling for you.
The #1 Secret To IT Services Referral Marketing
You should ask for referrals regularly. If you’re already operating a business with a great product, imagine how quickly you’ll be able to ramp up sales with a more aggressive approach.
The No. 1 secret to IT services referrals marketing isn’t a clever sales letter or some magical phrase you utter to your clients that causes them to whip out their Rolodex and give you every name contained in it. It starts with providing awe inspiring services. Take the Disneyland theme parks. Millions of people flock to Disney and gleefully empty their wallets every year. Why? Because Disney knows how to deliver a jaw-dropping experience.
Satisfied customers who get what they expect do not refer in abundance. Customers that are delightfully surprised that they got more they paid for, such as fast and friendly service, personal attention or someone who cares, do far more than tell everyone about their experience — they turn into raving fan customers.
Here’s why that makes a huge difference when you’re trying to boost your IT services referral marketing:
- Raving fan customers are happy to write you checks over and over again.
- Raving fan customers wouldn’t think of doing business with anyone else.
- Raving fan customers tell everyonethey know about you.
Here’s the million-dollar question. Are your customers just satisfied or are they a raving fan of your business?
Setting Up Your IT Services Referral Marketing System
Now that you’ve put in the work to provide services or products worthy of referrals, start asking for them! Here are some appropriate times to ask for referrals:
- At the point of closing a sale.I recently met with an alignment specialist to help me correct a chronic knee problem. After paying him $250 for the initial consultation, he gave me the “rules” of being a client. One of them was that I had a responsibility to refer at least 11 people to his practice. After saying this, he said, “How many of my business cards do you want?” To date, I’ve happily referred several friends of mine and will continue to refer people to him because he helped ease my pain when other doctors and physical therapists told me the next step was surgery. Was I offended when he told me one of the responsibilities of being a client was to refer people? Not at all! Because he delivered an amazing experience to me, I was more than happy to do it. Everyone can incorporate this into closing a sale, but very few do because they don’t have the confidence in themselves.
- When you are billing them for work done. Gevalia Coffee fuels word of mouth advertising by including a “refer a friend certificate” with every shipment you receive. If you refer a new customer to them, you get two free ceramic coffee mugs, and your friend gets a free coffee maker. For your IT business, you can include a form to request referrals with your invoices. Offer 5-10% off if they refer at least two people.
- After they have bought and consumed your product or service.Send a letter or have a sales person follow up with customers. Ask if they were happy with their purchase. If they say yes, then ask if they would be willing to refer you to a few friends or colleagues.
Other Ways To Generate IT Referrals
Here are a few other creative ideas to actively generate more customer referrals.
- Give your customers discount coupons or gift certificates they can pass on to friends and colleagues.Mail them out, e-mail them, or send them in your invoice statement.
- Conduct referral events.One client of mine throws a huge barbecue every summer and gets the local radio station to broadcast live from the event. VIP invitations are sent to customers, and they’re encouraged to bring friends. It’s so successful that they hold it every year and try to make each one bigger and more elaborate than the last one. If a barbecue is too much work, a simple after hours customer appreciation event can work wonders. Ask your customers to bring a colleague.
- Make it a contest.The person who provides the largest number of referrals in a certain time-frame wins a prize. One of my clients held a referral contest for a flat screen monitor and picked up eight new clients, many of whom turned into managed service contracts.
The Most Important Thing To Do After You Get A Referral
When someone refers you to a new customer, make sure you recognize and reward them generously. This will make them feel good about referring people to you and will encourage more of the same. If it’s not in the budget to send a gift, a handwritten thank-you note and a phone call will go a long way.