Published: May 31st, 2016

Referrals! Many don’t even think of this crucial part of doing business in terms of how to generate a continuous, effective referral system.

But, it’s much easier than you might think. Most may think it requires some complex system, set up through an online platform like SalesForce.com or something. But, it’s much, much simpler than that. It doesn’t involve having to hire a small ancillary team to add on to your sales force to do intensive B2B marketing either. You won’t have to hire out a “business referral” expert in-house, nor will you have to outsource any personnel for this easy-to-implement referral management system. All it takes is speaking to your client at the right time and place when doing business with your already-established clients. The secret to always getting great referrals is literally right under your nose…It’s time to turn off your email and power-down your smartphone because you need to pay attention here.

Forget What You Know About Generating Referrals

Forget what you may already know about how to generate referrals, because–obviously, it’s not working for you, or you wouldn’t be reading this. As an IT services company, you are accustomed to focusing on being tech-support experts, instead of on being a marketing company that just happens to sell information technology solutions. It really is all about altering your mindset–even polarizing it, to completely reverse your normal approach to operations. You see, it’s not about hard-to-fill-out referral forms, and “bribes” such as gift cards or gas cards, or any of that stuff. Studies show that although the majority of IT companies are using this methodology (the “bribes”), only five per cent of those companies are getting steady, regular referrals coming in the door. Is that unbelievable, or what? The solution, my friends, is literally sitting right in front of you.

Referral Strategies That Work

So, we have seen that time-consuming referral forms and gift card “bribes” aren’t the solution to creating an effective referral system that overflows with new clients for you. So, what is the secret solution that 95 per cent of SME’s–including most IT services firms–aren’t employing? It has to do with “the good old days”. The days before PCs, cell phones, social media, and websites. It has to do with looking your client in the eye, shaking his hand, smiling, and saying, “I’m glad we’re doing business.” Because, in our hurry, gotta go world, very few CEOs, COOs, CIOs (or what we call the C-Suite people) are going to take the time to fill out those referral forms–even if there’s a $50 Starbucks gift card that comes with it. The answer lies in something called “peak client satisfaction” and taking advantage of it by simply asking for a referral. Yep, it’s that easy.

How to Ask for Referrals

Here’s a statistic for you: 93 per cent of managed services companies have no effective referral system in place. So, what are the other seven per cent of those companies doing to successfully generate referrals? They ask for them. And, they get referrals coming out of their ears because they also do it at a time when the client is most likely to send their business friends and associates your way. They do it at the point of “peak client satisfaction” or the “peak referral state”. On a chart, this would be the point at the top of the bell curve, when the client is happiest with your job well done, and you either have them on the phone, on Skype, or are in their office, and you simply say, “Could you refer somebody our way?” Voila.

Create Lasting Referral-Generating Relationships

You also have to be doing top-tier work to even be able to successfully ask for and receive new client referrals, of course. But, you know your work is good enough. You just have to be able to speak up at that peak-satisfaction moment with your client, and your happy client will be thrilled to turn his friends and business associates on to your services. It’s a win-win for all when you just remember the old adage “ask and ye shall receive”–and to also thank them for sending you new business as well. The smart ones knew that that also applied to the world of managed services as well!

Make Clients Feel Special, and They Will Provide

Another great tip for getting constant, high-quality referrals: give the company contact your personal phone number–this will make them feel special, and they will be thrilled to have your “red line”, and to be able to give it to their friends who need your help. In many cases, this might even be the AP person. Never ask, or do any of the peak-satisfaction communications by email. Do it in person or on the phone–ask them a brief questionnaire with these questions about their level of satisfaction:

  • Is our team responsive to your service issues?
  • Is our team professional when dealing with you?
  • Does our team ensure all your technology challenges or issues are solved?
  • Does our team follow up to ensure everything was taken care of?
  • On a scale of one to ten, how do you rate the service you receive from us?

Then, watch them beam back their extreme gratitude, and then–Just ask.

Stuart Crawford is an IT services and managed services marketing expert. He founded Ulistic in 2010 and has been a regular contributor to CDN ever since.

At Ulistic, we have the expertise to help you get your company’s message out there and maximize your connections. We offer a wide array of unrivaled services and relevant content designed for your company’s success! To learn more about the solutions that Ulistic can bring to your strategy, give us a call at 716.799.1999, or send us an email: info@ulistic.com.

Stuart Crawford has a webinar on getting quality referrals for your IT services business.  Click Here to watch it. You can also download his guide to getting great referrals by Clicking here.