February 23, 2008

Creating a Client Referral Program That Really Builds Business

Posted in clients, marketing, networking at 10:52 am by rtuss13

It is quite possible that there is no better, more effective method of advertising than referrals from your clients. They have experienced firsthand the value of teaming with a Virtual Assistant, and their respected word and opinion almost instantly propels you into a “trusted agent” status with the associate whom they are sharing the benefits of a VA with.

Think about it. Others see your clients’ success and satisfaction, and they naturally start to want that for themselves. Once they hear about your services, they are many times more likely to sign on with you than the average prospect who just happened upon one of your advertisements. They have already been sold on your service. They just need a place to sign.

Referrals are tremendously powerful and offer your business a chance to grow like no other, but there is one significant caveat. If you don’t ask for them (and do so properly), you are never going to be able harness their full potential. Creating a referral program is a great way to do that. By incentivizing your clients to provide their glowing testimonials of your services to others, they will actually seek opportunities to spread the word about you!

Here are three tips for developing a business building referral program:

  • The incentive should have real value to your clients. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank, but you should offer something that is substantial enough to sincerely reflect your appreciation for new business directly resulting from their referral. My experience is that a discount or credit to their account works best.
  • Make sure your program results in new business from both the referred party and the existing client. It is quite obvious to focus on the first part, but if you leave out the latter, you are missing out on half of the benefits of the referral process. A good way to do this is to offer a discount that will be credited towards the referring party’s next invoice. This encourages your referring client to continue to find new ways that their business can benefit from your expert service.
  • Announce your referral program in a variety of ways. Telling your clients about your it is not a one-time event. Send them postcards periodically to remind them of it (Personally, I favor VerticalResponse to do this). Post it on your website. Mention it in your email newsletters. Include a brief reminder about it on your email signature with a link to your website where they can get full details.
  • Starting a referral program was by far the most effective business building strategy for my business. I was amazed at the response and the enthusiasm of my clients to refer their friends, family and associates to me. The benefits have greatly outweighed the costs, and I couldn’t have gotten the same results from spending the same amount on other forms of advertising. Of course, other methods of advertising have their place, but a referral program is at the top of the list for me.



    1. Consider credit card companies, for example. Their referral business BRINGS IN so much business that many will pay you $100 – $200 in referral fees EACH TIME an applicant (who applies through your link) is approved!

    2. Thanks for the info. I am looking to start something like this!

    3. Ashish said,

      Hello Rosanna,

      Nice read. I have a doubt about the customer referral system. How do you make sure that the process of referral system is not very complex? Do you give it a test run before implementing it?


      • Rosanna said,

        Hi Ashish. Your system can be as simple as asking your clients to refer your services. Always ask a new prospect who contacted you how they heard about you. Not only will you discover any referral sources, but you’ll also get an idea of what marketing efforts are working best for you.

    4. nes styles said,

      Thanks for info I grasp alot from your article please keep writing….

    5. JC Jones said,

      Having a great referral program is key to creating a steady stream of new clients or business. I find a better ROI asking my book of business for referrals.

      I use an online referral system which makes is simple and easy to ask for referrals, it is MyReferralButler.com, check it out http://myreferralbutler.com/

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