Today we’re going to talk about referrals. The best way to think about the referral process is that it is largely designed to gain new referrals from people who already love you. The easiest, most effective, most efficient, least expensive way to build your business is to use the trustworthiness of existing clients that have grown to love you and the service and the products that you provide. 

For many years, I have been obsessed with the concept of internal marketing versus external marketing. I believe far too much money is spent on billboards and bus shelters and bus benches and church bulletins and newspapers. Are we kidding? Newspapers? There’s a whole demographic of people 20–30 years old that have hardly ever read a newspaper. Yet some people are still stuck on these conventional advertising methods that not only eat up your money, but are very difficult to track when it comes to return on investment.

Instead, if you use the ideas in this article, you can cut your advertising costs significantly.

Word-of-mouth internal marketing starts when you talk to an existing client. For the purposes of this article, let’s call him Mr. Bob Jones. Start your conversation by saying to Mr. Jones, “Can I ask you a question?” (By the way, no one’s ever answered this by saying “No.”) Then say:

We need to grow our business here at “Insert Your Business Name” and the way that we want to grow our business is with customers like you. I have a few questions to ask you. Are you currently satisfied with our service?

Well of course they’re satisfied, they’re excited, they’re happy. In fact, they might even be a personal friend. Your second question goes like this: 

Well, Mr. Jones, we would like you to help us meet your friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives. Let’s start with your friends. Mr. Jones, the type of friend we’re talking about is when you call that person on the phone, you don’t have to say “Hey, it’s Bob.” They already know your voice. You’ve spent that much time with them. Which close friend of yours might appreciate our services?

At this point, I ask them if they could please write down the person’s name and number.

Very good. Who else? What other friend might you want to help us with that would appreciate our service. Write that down. How about your neighbor, Mr. Jones? We are looking for the type of neighbor that is there for you in a pinch. If there’s an emergency and you’ve got to immediately leave the house, you trust them; they’ll watch over the house or take care of an errand for you. Write that neighbor’s name down please.

Here, I pause to allow the client to think. They’re going through their mental computer, visually imagining who in their circle of influence would have needs that match our services. You will be shocked at what great information you will get, and also how much time you’ll save. Now that we’ve finished with friends and neighbors, we move to another sphere of influence.

Mr. Jones, let’s talk about your co-workers. The co-workers that rely on you, and that you rely on. The ones you have a great relationship with. Are there any people in this group that you think might appreciate our services? Which co-worker comes to mind? Write that down. Thank you.

And Mr. Jones, lastly but certainly not least, let’s explore your relatives. Which relatives would really appreciate our kind of service and would like to work with us, the fun people that we are. Please write down the relatives that come to mind.  

Mr. Jones, I want to thank you for going through this exercise with us and I want you to always know, we sincerely appreciate your business. We know you have other choices. We are committed to doing everything that we need to do to continue to earn your trust and your business in the future.

This is the method I have used for over 25 years.  It can be used in any industry. You can build a business hard or you can build a business smart. Remember, I do use conventional advertisements, but never have I used a billboard of my face to build business. They certainly have their place, make no mistake about it. But generally, the most important place you can place your face is in front of the face of one of your existing clients that then gives you referrals to friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives that they know and trust.

Always remember, marvelous performance is almost always intentional. Marvelous performance is almost never accidental. Have a marvelous day.  

For more on building your agency, see:

Do You Have a Vision of More Referrals?

Survival of the Fittest (Salespeople)

4 Tips That Can Take Your Business to a Whole New Level