Referral business customers represent one of the fastest ways to grow your new business from the ground up. Business leads grow when customer referrals go from one person to another, or from one company to another, thanks to word-of-mouth, a quick email or a social media post.
Firms that want a strong customer base from other companies should start their referral business early and often. This means owners and executives must make conscious decisions to follow viable leads and to treat customers with respect. Create a plan to grow customer referrals into long-term relationships by working with your customers in relevant ways. This way, your quality work makes other businesses endorse your company to their peers and to the marketplace as a whole.
A referral business starts with the initial sale to a brand new customer. Choose a company that complements your business, possibly as a supplier, part of a logistics chain or a firm that turns your raw material into a finished product. The company you pick could be a marketing firm, retail store chain or online marketplace. You want your new referral to be a company you enjoy working with, and a business that can develop into a viable partner for many years.
Get better referrals with your product knowledge to start, but also as you follow up with customers after the sale. Ask clients how the product or service worked for them. Your product may be great, but a lack of customer service may doom repeat business or referrals later. Become a problem solver to the other company and offer ways to make the other company better. Even if you do not get the initial sale, the representative of the other company may come away from a meeting intrigued by an offer of assistance. Perhaps most importantly, do not try to get a referral from the very first meeting. Instead, create a relationship first.
The initial contract is a good place to start. However, the relationship you have with a referral business extends over months and years into a case study in how firms partner together for the greater good of everyone involved. Working with other companies solidifies your standing within an industry, grows your leadership structure and sharpens your expertise.
When other companies recognize your business's worth, your credibility grows and other companies may decide a partnership with your business is worthwhile. As other people approach you for goods or services, your network and connections grow. These connections may turn into more referral business, and more referrals turn into valuable assets in the future, should your company's needs change.
A referral business is one method to develop a strong customer base when you rely on other companies for revenue streams. Sales and marketing teams need to recognize the importance of referrals as a method to grow quickly and steadily.
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