Sales: Importance of referrals

Graham Hayden

Graham Hayden explains why you should concentrate on referrals

Expert: Graham Hayden

Company: Graham Hayden Training

Background:10-year tenure as CEO of the KBSA and trained over 750 delegates in the last five years

There are at least three compelling reasons to concentrate efforts on referrals:
1. A referred client has usually seen the quality of the product and the standard of installation
2. A referred client is probably aware of the price and less likely to feel the need to negotiate
3. A referred client has come from someone who has a reputation to maintain.

For example, you are likely to refer a family member or friend to a business that will do a great job and thereby enhance your reputation. It is surprising, therefore, to find businesses do not have 'referrals' as a part of their sales planning.

It would seem logical, that as you delight your customers with your skill and expertise, you should be requesting they recommend their family and friends to you. And you can, quite legitimately, offer them some reward for any leads that result in confirmed orders. In our business, the finished product of kitchen, bedroom or bathroom is regularly seen by visitors, so offering an incentive for referral business can be quite effective.

However, the real key to ensuring a high level of referrals is to include the 'wow' factor in every part of your sales and customer care process and, by using a very simple check list, you can avoid the areas of client dissatisfaction that can occur in project management. This list includes contacting the customer during the installation to re-assure them of the timescales and showing them extra thoughtfulness during what is an upheaval in their lifestyle.

During my tenure at the KBSA, I made sure I was aware of every consumer complaint against our members. I am delighted to say the number was very small. But, of these complaints, 60% would never have been received if the simple checklist had been part of the project management process.

So, when trading is tough as we know, ensure you are maximising your referrals. Think about a sales plan and check your clients are saying 'wow' about the customer care you offer. They will be only too keen to pass this experience on to their friends and families.

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