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Stefan Kazakis on 10 October 2020

In the upcoming weeks, we will be doing a deep dive into building referral strategies that really work. 

Today, I want to start by sharing four key things you must do to build a successful strategy.

1. Stop calling them "referrals"! 

It might sound strange, but it’s true: Asking for "referrals" is not going to give you what you want. 

Why? Many people have their own ideas about what a “referral” means.

They might think you need a reference. They might assume you’re just looking for names and numbers. But what you really want is an introduction. 

So, why not ask for one directly? If you simply ask for introductions, you’ll make a lot more progress. You will also get much higher quality recommendations. 

You should also use words like “recommend” rather than “refer”. 

When you want to find a great new restaurant, or a good movie to watch, you ask your friends for recommendations.

Try it next time. Rather than asking for a referral, ask for a recommendation, or even better, an introduction. This simple change will have a profound effect on how many you receive. 

edm refs

2. If You Don’t Ask, You Won’t Get 

I’d be willing to bet that a vast majority of your clients would be willing to recommend your business to their friends and colleagues. 

But just because they would, doesn’t mean they will. 

I’m certain you’ve had clients who were recommended to you. But building a business that has a steady stream of referrals doesn’t just happen.

Our clients are all busy leading their own lives. Just because someone thinks highly of us, doesn’t mean they think of us often. 

A client may be willing to recommend us, but unless we ask, they probably never will. 

So we simply must ask. We should do everything we can to remind our clients and make it easy for them to recommend us. 

This will make it much more likely that they will do so, and your business will become a referral-generating machine.


3. Recommendations only come from happy customers 

Each satisfied customer is a walking billboard for your company if you have the right strategy in place. But you will only ever get referrals from people who are happy with your service. 

So it’s vital that you build systems that deliver exactly what you promised your customers (and a little bit more).

You need to ask your customers regularly for their honest feedback and suggestions. You need to benchmark your service against your competitors. 

If you deliver on your promise, your customers have no reason to consider going to your competitors. They will be happy to recommend you. 

However, if you don’t deliver on your promise, they certainly won't be recommending you to anyone they like. 

In fact, they may even turn others away from your business. 

As we know, people are more likely to talk about a bad experience with a business than a good one. So it might be obvious, but it's vitally important to always deliver a good customer experience. 


4. Measure your referrals 

As the adage goes: “What gets measured, gets managed.” 

Therefore, you must establish a system that has set targets and metrics for generating referrals. 

You should record the number of referral leads you receive, how often they convert into paying customers, and how valuable they are to your business.

You should have a system that your team can follow. Set defined targets and KPIs for your team, and hold them accountable to a scoreboard. Make your referral system a priority in your business. 

Your current clients are your best source of new business, but they don’t automatically know that you want more clients, or that you would appreciate introductions to their friends and colleagues. 

By building a system that your team follows and is held accountable to, your current clients will be driving a stream of new leads to your business. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing loads more content with you that will help make this a reality in your business. 

In the meantime, check out all the referral resources we have on our website.


Stefan Kazakis 

CEO, Business Benchmark Group

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