March 09, 2016
We all know that referrals are king for many small businesses, professional services, or real estate agents. But what's the best way to go about getting those referrals? Even though we know they're necessary, we also know that they can be an awkward thing to go about asking for from your customers and contacts.
Before you panic and avoid the awkwardness altogether by not sending any asks for referrals at all, which isn't entirely productive... We're sharing a couple quick templates for emails that will get you those coveted referrals all while continuing to maintain your relationships with your contacts.
84% of customers report that they almost always trust referrals or recommendations from their friends or family when it comes to products and businesses. That's a vast majority, and makes referrals one of the most trusted sources when it comes to how people find a business or professional service. It begs the question, why aren't you reaching out to your network for referrals?
We firmly believe in creating a valuable relationship with our customers and contacts in our network, so that when it comes time to ask for something from them (like a referral) they're more willing to give back to you. Now, this isn't the situation of doing them a favor so that they'll 'owe' you later down the road. Instead, it's about creating a genuine and valuable relationship that allows you to turn to each other in times of need... or celebration!
The more effort you put into the relationships with your contacts, the greater impact you have on them. Once you're making a big impact, your relationships are far stronger and those contacts are far more likely to have your back when you need it...because you've shown that you would do the same for them!
So, what're you looking for by sending out this email? We're going beyond just getting a response from your contact here, and yes we know you probably are looking for a referral, but the type of referral is key here! We've broken it down into 5 types of referrals or asks you might be making of your network.
1. The recent customer or client
There is no better time than right after a positive experience with a customer to ask for a referral. Take advantage of that great sale, experience, or impact you made on your client and their business by reaching out within the week and asking for their feedback.
It can come in the form of a referral or even a simple review on social media, but it's important that you don't waste time with this one! Move quick while you're still top of mind in a positive way and you're almost guaranteed to get a great referral.
2. The VIP in your life
We all know 'em (or wish we knew them) and no matter what field you're in, it's likely that the VIP's or big influencers are busy folks. So what's key here? Brevity. And while we'll advocate for keeping it short and sweet for all of these emails, it's probably most important here where your contact's time is precious.
Because they're a VIP, they get these kind of emails all the time and you want yours to stand out from the crowd, so we head back to our handy graph of effort:impact. What can you do for these VIPs? Make it worth their while to reach back to you with that crucial referral.
3. Social Media Request
This is a super easy win for getting more indirect client and customer referrals via social media from past clients or even peers in your network who know you and your business personally. You can make this request from now till the cows come home and not get any responses but as soon as you make it easy and accessible for your contacts to go through with it, you'll see a huge difference.
So what do you do? Make the ask and be sure to tell your contacts why this is important to you or your business, or any positive results you've seen come out of them, and then give them all the tools they need to complete the reviews. Whether that's a link and description or directions on exactly how they can leave the review, you want to make it crystal clear and really easy for your contacts to leave their review.
4. New Contact
Here's another great way to take advantage of being top-of-mind with someone in your network, except this time it's because you've just met them. Whether it's just in passing, you've been introduced by a mutual contact, or you met them at a conference, it's worth it to reach out to them and show how much you already value their relationship.
Keep it short, personal and be sure to mention how you met them, and give them a value add! Share an article you found about the conference you were attending, or let them know that you added them on LinkedIn and offer to connect them with some other people in your network. Prove that you're a worthwhile new contact to have in their network!
5. Informal or funny request
We all know that asking for a referral is hard...and awkward, and often the best solution to dealing with that awkwardness is by simply acknowledging its existence! As always, know thy audience. Sending a cheeky email off to a VIP or someone in your network who may not appreciate it, could be detrimental.
Pick your contacts wisely before you shoot off this email and if you're on track, they'll appreciate your honesty and ability to acknowledge how hard it is to ask a favor from people in your network.
Don't overthink this part, the simpler the better because you don't want your request to get lost in a lengthy and meandering email. But you'll want to make sure you include a few key words, phrases and structure in your email...it's the art of asking for a favor!
Start by setting the stage of what the purpose of the email is and include something along the lines of 'I have a favor to ask of you' or 'Can I ask you a favor?' Including a similar phrase sets your contact up to understand what the purpose of the email is, and the word favor implies some sort of reciprocity and a return in favor at some point down the line in your relationship.
Then, give your reason for asking that favor. Show why it's of value to you or your business that they give you the referral and make it clear that their contribution is worthwhile. People tend to like knowing the 'why' behind the reason they're being asked for something and generally react positively to the word 'because' according to Robert Cialdini's book Influence. Couple your ask with that clear reasoning, use that positive 'because' and you're on track to grab plenty of responses and referrals from your contacts.
Keep these 4 things on your checklist as you write your email:
When it comes to your subject line, again it's key to keep it simple but also important to make your contact feel...special. Don't make it feel as if you're 'begging' for business or help, instead put the ball in their court and give them the privilege of picking who you're working with.
You're allowing your network to help pick who else you work with, and in the process you're also reminding them of how much you value their relationship that you'll turn to them for advice. Just please be sure you're not sending it out in a mass email....that may defeat the purpose.
There's three factors here when it comes to timing. The first being the day and time of day when you send the actual email, the second is a matter of relevance and timeliness according to the last time you spoke with them, and the third is at what point in the email you make the ask from your contact.
There's plenty of theories out there about the best time of day for sending an email and we've tried them all out, but the chart below reminds you of what people's workdays generally look like. It gives you a chance to capitalize on the times that they're most likely to respond, simply based on what they're probably doing at the time. Looks kind of like your own day-to-day, right? Common sense should guide your email send timing
Then of course, make sure to remain relevant. Reaching out to that 'new' contact you met at a conference a month or two after you actually met them? You've certainly lost relevance there. Reach out when the timing is right, but don't wait too long or you may just be forgotten. Staying top-of-mind is everything here, especially when you're making an ask of your network...so just send that email already!
Finally, when do you slide your ask into the body of the email? Certainly don't bury it in the midst of a lot of details or towards the end of the email. What if they don't make it down that far? It's best to keep your request towards the beginning of the email, and couple it with your own value add. Integrate that key Equity Theory into the ask and make it clear that your relationship is one of reciprocity.
So, now that you're adding value to your relationships, you're ready to start asking them for referrals. Find your purpose and then go ahead and download our 5 email templates that will guarantee responses with referrals no matter what situation you find yourself in. Whether you're asking the VIP's in your life for a referral, or maybe you're reaching out to former customers, or just looking for a review online, these templates will guide you in the right direction.