It ain’t what you know, it’s who you know. Never was that saying more apt than in the art of referrals.
In the world of PR we all spend lots of time focussed on bringing in brand new clients. Once we have them, we’re off again to find another one. All too often, we ignore the rich seam of gold that this new client could provide through referrals to some of their customers.
So what exactly is a referral? Well it can be as simple as a satisfied customer saying something nice about you to somebody else, a kind of “word of mouth” marketing. But the more systems you introduce, the more beneficial the referrals become.

Step 1
Assuming you are providing a quality service to your client, and that your relationship is a strong one, ask them if they have any customers that might be interested in your services. Unless you have misjudged the state of your relationship, the client should feel comfortable offering you a contact.
Step 2
Silver Standard referral: check with your client that you can use his name as an introduction. When approval is given, you are in a position to make that call.
Step 3
Gold Standard referral: be cheeky. Ask your existing client if he would have time to make a personal recommendation for you, either through a phone call or a letter. If he agrees, you’re half way there. The next step is to ensure he makes that call. Explain when you are planning to phone this “warm lead” and confirm that this gives him enough time to do his bit. How will you know if that call has been made? Simple … the referral will either accept or decline your call.
Step 4
Have a prepared script for the call. Don’t make it too inflexible, but have an idea of what you want to say, where you would like the conversation to lead to, and what would constitute a successful call for you.
Step 5
Don’t sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Go back to your original client and thank him very much for the referral. Let him know how you got on and whether you think any business will flow from it. Your client will feel pleased that he has played a part in helping you win new business.
Step 6
Strike while the iron is hot. Ask him for another referral!
Referrals are a numbers game. The more times you ask for one, the more times you will receive one. If you have 50 clients, and ask each one for a referral, that could be 50 potential new clients. Imagine the boost to your business if you converted even 10% of them into new clients.
Remember: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
by Tim Cobb