Getting Word-Of-Mouth Referrals for Your Therapy Or Coaching Practice – 5 Simple Tips to Remember

When was the last time you needed to find a service – plumber, accountant, dog-groomer, whatever? How did you go about it? If you’re like me, you turned to the web, but what do you do with all the results Google throws back to you? How do you choose the right one (or even a fairly good one)? Web searches are all very well, but it is even better when you can ask someone whose opinion you trust to recommend someone to you. And when you do and they enthuse about a service they have had, which way are you most likely to jump — the anonymous web search result, or the one recommended to you by someone who has had a positive experience of that service? That’s right, you go for the personal recommendation: the word-of-mouth referral.

When someone recommends a service to us, we feel relieved: we have someone’s personal experience of that service to guide us, and their positive experience can reassure us that when we choose to use them, our decision will be repaid by a similarly positive experience too.

That is great when it comes to that plumber or accountant. But how much better is it likely to be for someone feeling emotionally fragile or stuck in their life to be able to have a personalized recommendation that the therapist or coach they are thinking about approaching for help might be just the caring, empathetic and skilled professional they need? As you might imagine, the reassurance that a good word-of-mouth recommendation gives someone in this position is invaluable.

But how do you go about getting recommended?

Some will happen unprompted when former clients encounter family and friends who are looking for therapeutic support or coaching, but even in these circumstances, some people may not recommend you. Why? Well, they may not make the connection between their friend’s dilemma and your services, they may be of the opinion that clients have to be referred to you by a certain, circuitous route, or they simply do not wish to advertise the fact that they have had need for your services in the past. This latter point is understandable and one that you cannot do much about. But the other points can be addressed and it is worth building on the good therapeutic relationship you have with your clients to do so.

1. Just Ask

Quite simply, the best and easiest way to generate word-of-mouth referrals is to ask for them! Yes, even with therapy clients! If you have done a good piece of work and developed a good working relationship with your client, there is absolutely no reason for you not to bring your involvement to a close with this request: “If you know someone who you think might benefit from working with me, then please pass on my contact details.”

2. Happy clients want to give back

Satisfied clients often want to show their appreciation in some way, and if they think by passing your details on to others (which is a very easy thing for them to do), they can help you out, they will be delighted to do so. Let them know that you see clients with a range of concerns other than just whatever brought them to see you, and that you are happy to discuss things directly with potential clients in an initial contact call. Remind them also that all work they have done with you is confidential of course: this will reassure them that you are not going to discuss your work with them with anyone they refer.

3. Rewards

If you are working as a coach, you may want to encourage word of mouth referrals by offering discounts or extra sessions. For example, you might offer that anyone contacting you for coaching can benefit from a discount for their first session(s) if they say they have been referred by your former client, or you can suggest that for every word-of-mouth referral they make that turns into a client, you will offer the referrer an extra session free (or some variation on this). I would not offer this type of arrangement for therapy clients however as this is a very different type of interaction, and I do not believe that discounts or freebies are appropriate in the circumstances.

4. Spread the Word

It is not only former clients whose word-of-mouth is important. There are other situations where you can promote the fact that you are happy to receive enquiries based on recommendations. For example, if you attend networking meetings, always ensure that you give a brief explanation of the type of work you do, leave contacts with your business card and invite referrals.

Where you are present in an expert role, for example, if you are invited to speak to groups about your work (you can seek these out, by the way, you do not have to wait to be asked), this gives you a superb opportunity to promote your services. Make sure, as you bring your talk to a close, that you let your audience know that you are happy for them to recommend your work to anyone they encounter who might benefit from seeing you. It may sound obvious, but unless you ask explicitly, people may be reluctant to suggest your services if they think you might be too busy or too specialist. Make it clear that you are open to calls to discuss potential referrals.

5. Help Referrers feel they are helping others too

Help your former clients and/or audiences recognise that you can be a useful resource for them too. When they recommend your services, remind them that they are providing a really useful service and helping their friends or business contacts, which can allow them to feel good about themselves as facilitators.

Remember, ask and you will see those word-of-mouth referrals, the best kind, begin to grow.

hardworkout made a real revolution in the industry.

Client Referral Generation – How To Get Automatic Leads

Client referrals have always formed the backbone of any successful financial planners strategy. A good method for referral generating can save you large amounts of money that would otherwise spent for advertising. There are proven strategies, sometimes specific, sometimes borrowed from other professions which will guarantee better results, and I’ll share some of them in this guide.

Remember to help – A large part of success is due to being sincere and honest. Focus on helping your clients, give them meaningful information, assist in creating bonds between them and getting them extra exposure.

Keep the referrer in the loop – You should look at your client relationships as lifetime partnerships. Keep in touch, know what are they doing at the present moment and keep them informed with your own undertakings as well. Make sure you always have a reason for contacting them, such as an advice or a recently acquired contact that they can benefit from. This way you’ll keep yourself in the picture and pave the way for getting a constant stream of referrals from many sources.

Ask the referrer to contact your prospect first – You’re much more likely to succeed if your prospect knows that you’ll be calling. This is not easy to achieve, as it involves active participation on the client’s side. A good way to break the ice in these situations is to ask for sending an e-mail or text message instead – electronic correspondence isn’t hardwired in people’s psyche as much as phone calls, and seems like much less effort in comparison – which it is.

Always carry a pen – You’ll notice many opportunities for new contacts through your daily business and personal life. Always have a pen and paper ready, and you’ll gain valuable leads. This practise alone is one of the biggest time savers and can lead to surprisingly rich outcomes.

Give meaningful, non-monetary gifts to be remembered – combine your promotion efforts with a referral generating strategy – give out personalized gifts such as pens, mugs, mouse pads etc. to your clients which will keep your name in front of them daily. Go one step further and personalise these – keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and notable events in your clients life. A warm and sincere congratulation engraved on these small gift can do wonders to the relationship, and it’s a smart way get yourself remembered.

Tell success stories – Your clients need to know that their help is going to be meaningful and will lead to a win-win situation for everyone involved. Voice your latest efforts and how they helped others. A subtle way of getting these messages through is via a newsletter or a recent client related success story on your website.

Remind the benefits – How does your client benefit from doing business with you? Make sure your clients will be able to answer this question to themselves in a matter of thought. Remind them about all the positives of your relationship, such as bringing up the topic of recent happenings with someone who you introduced them to or other related success.

Set up alliances with other professionals – Strive to become a one stop shop for your clients and have contact information ready for introducting other professionals. You’ll see that many of your clients will be looking for lawyers, mortgage specialists, real estate agents or other business owners whose work is largely based on referrals. Set up these alliances early and you’ll gain a huge stream of new contacts on a regular, day-to-day basis – you’d be a fool to pass such an opportunity.

Hold Client Appreciation Events – It’s a good way to introduce your clients to each other and create new business opportunities for them. Your best shot is to make the event pleasant, fun and constructive in character. If you can, bring a top-name speaker who will be addressing a memorable and useful topic. At the gathering, be the life of the party and give all your attention to your guests.

Get The Referrals You Want

From running business networking groups over the last few of years I have observed how the best networkers get the referrals they are looking for and how even good networkers fail on this front.

Some networking events give you the air time to deliver a 60 second or elevator pitch, your chance to state what contacts you are looking for. It is this opportunity that can make all the difference between you getting what you want or you leaving empty handed.

My first piece of business networking advice is consider some of the challenges you are faced with:

  • You have a very short time in which to capture the attention of your audience and motivate them to take action
  • There will be others presenting their own pitches who will in effect be ‘competing’ with you to get the to get the commitment of others round the table to spend their time helping you
  • People are always busy and are generally thinking about their own businesses
  • People need to have confidence in you or your services to refer you

So, in short you need to make it easy for others to help you

So, how do you make it easy for people to help you?

Quite simply, when you ask for a referral you need to be specific about the referral you want. This will focuses your audience’s attention and prompt them to take action.

And the more specific you can be the better. You may have an offering which could be bought by anyone, however, if you say ‘I am looking for anyone’ then this will not capture your audiences attention, will not focus their mind and is unlikely to generate a response.

Just for a moment think about this dating example…if you were placing an advert in a lonely hearts column saying ‘I am looking for anyone’ how many people do you think you would attract, and if you did what would the quality be like? If, however you specified the age, interests and characteristics you are looking for I think you might get a more positive response.

So back to a work example instead of ‘I am looking for any contacts who might be interested in my service,’ you might say ‘I am looking for contacts with builders.’

One stage better is to say ‘I am looking for contacts with builders in x area’ as this further focuses your audience’s thought.

Better still though is to say ‘I am looking for contacts with a, b and c builders in x area.’ Whilst the majority of people may not have the contact you are looking for, those who do have are far more likely to say so and therefore will be compelled to help you.

Being a specialist can help you to attract more referrals

The other advantage to being specific is that it can help you to be perceived as an expert in a particular area. So, keeping with the above example, if you have already have builders who are satisfied customers you can say so and explain how you have specifically helped them. This will help to reassure your potential referrers that you have expertise in serving this customer base and they are more likely to be motivated to refer your services to other businesses.

Specifics which work less well

I have heard some people be specific by asking for contacts with ‘companies with a turnover of say $2m+ or companies employing more than 20 people. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t always work so well as people don’t necessarily know the turnover of businesses around them or the number of employees unless they work very closely with them.

It is your responsibility to do the research for your business

If you can’t identify exactly what businesses you would like to target then you need to do some research. This is your job, not the job of your potential referrers. How can you expect others to know what contacts you want if you don’t know yourself?

So, the next time you have the opportunity to ask for a referral, do your research, prepare well and ensure that you have identified 2 or 3 potential contacts you would like an introduction to. Try this business networking tip… it does work!

Referral Marketing – What Is It Really?

Referral Marketing is steps, tools and well thought out processes that will allow small and home base business to attain new leads and clients without the aid of traditional marketing methods like T.V and Newspaper ads. This type of marketing has actually I higher return on your investment as your leads come pre-sold.

Plenty of business nowadays are running a good business off of referrals alone does this sounds like something you would be interested in.

The fact of the matter is many business get started this way but the sad fact they seemed to forget what worked and start doing what other business are doing that is not working. They forget that they probably landed their first client by doing some outstanding work for the client and the client told the world thus creating a tsunami of leads and customers.

Now here comes the kicker the business could have created a flood of additional clients if only the business owner would have invested in creating some sort of client referral systems. Now I must say there are some business that do better than other using referrals such as lawyers, doctors and other high price specialists but I can guarantee you if you ask 5 of these professionals are they investing any time or money in creating a referral system maybe 1 would say yes.

Not only do the high price business goes well with this type of marketing but home base business, small brick and mortar business and of course net-workers would definitely benefit in having some sort of referral marketing system in place.

It is really the ideal way to do business online and offline, did you ever notice testimonials from celebrities on website in some way this is a form of referral marketing because it seems like the celebrity is endorsing the product or service thus the potential prospects feels that they was referred by the celebrity. Referral marketing could also be called trust marketing as there is a great trust factor coming from this type of marketing because normally it comes from someone you know, like and trust.

Referral marketing is the only form of marketing where you spend less money and get a higher return on your investment but the biggest problems with referral marketing is if you have no system you are most likely to fail as you will not consciously continue to use this form of marketing.

How to Get Started With Referrals

When you are a small business not having as many customers as you would like has some positives too. The main one is that as the owner you are much closer to your customers than larger business. You just have more time for personalized service.

Unfortunately, that proximity to customers isn’t enough to keep you in business. To grow your business, take advantage of your great service by gaining customer referrals from existing customers.

I know. Asking for referrals feels pushy. However, do you really have a choice? Think about it. You are in business because you think your product or service will help people. Most people like to help others. They enjoy passing along a good tip about a great product or service. By asking for a referral you are actually doing them a favor. So ask your customers after you have given them great service – Who is a person you know who would benefit from having our product/service?

Other than providing great service, another way to make a personal connection with your existing customers is to send a newsletter. Instead of sending the average, boring email that most businesses send, focus on success stories of your existing customers. Explain how you solved a problem that one of your customers faced. Explain why solving that problem was important to them and explain how you solved it. Then include a testimonial from the customer.

When you look for products or services for your business or even in your personal life don’t you find it helpful if you see how someone else had a success with a service?

Lastly, ask the person who gave you a testimonial to name any people they know that are in a similar situation.

Formal referral programs seem old fashioned, however they are still effective. A formal referral program can be as simple as mailing 50 business cards to each one of your customers and explaining to them to pass them on to friends and write their names on the back of it. If a new customer walks in with a name written on the back of your business card, that person will receive a reward from you.

Strike up alliances with ancillary businesses. Have you ever had a doctor refer you to a specialist? Think about it. There are businesses that are in a similar situation as the generalist doctor. In pest control I have found small pet stores that I partner with. When one of their customers complains about flea infestations, the store owner tells them that he knows a great pest control company that can help them with their flea problems.

Here is the way I got in touch with pet store owners. I asked a current customer with a pet to recommend a pet store to me. Then I asked the customer to call the owner of the store to let the owner know that I will call. Now, when I called the owner already knew who I was and how we were connected.

Don’t ask for referrals right away. You need to build a relationship with the store owner first. Show him that you can provide value by finding him referrals first or helping him in some other way. Once you have built the relationship you can approach him with your strategy on how your company could help his customers. To make the offer appealing let him know that you are willing to provide discounts to the customers he refers.

Lastly, if you are still hesitant about growing your business through referrals you might want to look into BNI. BNI is an organization that focuses on creating referrals and relationships by business owners in different industries. If you agree that referrals are the way to go but are too shy for ask for them look into BNI as a way to provide the peer pressure to get you started.