In this new series, I’m talking about how to get more clients by using referrals, drawing from a session from this year’s Communication Central conference: Rev Up Your Business with Referral Power by Jake Poinier, aka Dr. Freelance.
So far, I’ve talked about why you should make your editing business referral-based and how to identify the right clients for referrals. This week, I’ll wrap up the series with tips for asking your clients for referrals.
How to Ask for a Referral
While you can ask clients out of the blue to refer you, you’ll have more success when you make use of a positive experience.
Anytime your client praises you is a great time to ask for referrals, says Poinier. This might be during the project or once the project is finished. For example:
Client: You did a great job editing my manuscript. It reads so much better now!
You: I’m glad I was able to help you! If you know of any other writers I could help, please pass my information along. I’d love to help someone else!
Believe it or not, after someone refers you is a great time to ask for more—while you’re saying thank you, of course. You might say something like:
Thank you for referring Jane Smith to me. I’m excited to help her the way I’ve helped you. And as a referral-based business, I really appreciate your support.
Recommendations Are Subtle Referrals
Poinier reminded us that recommendations are referrals too. It’s a way for similar clients to identify with your recommending client.
If you want to be more subtle (many editors are introverts, after all), try asking for recommendations that you can use in your marketing materials or on your LinkedIn profile.
Start by writing a good recommendation for the person you want to recommend you, advises Poinier. Be honest and sincere in your recommendation, and don’t sweat it if someone doesn’t recommend you back. The hope is that your good deed will be returned.
LinkedIn allows the person being recommended to review the recommendation before posting. This is a good strategy for all recommendations. You want them to reflect the business image you want to portray. Poinier suggests this testimonial structure:
- Identify the client’s problem or challenge.
- Tell what you did to solve the problem.
- Describe the results you delivered.
- Don’t include anything that undermines your business identity, such as wording that makes you sound cheap.
I’ve Got a Referral! Now What?
Poinier reminded us to find out what the prospective client likes about you and ensure that it’s an accurate perception. Can you do what they think you can? This is likely if your referrer has told the prospect about your work and if the perception you create for your business matches the client’s perception.
Be sure to thank your referrers. A handwritten note is nice because it stands out, says Poinier. It says you’ve made a little effort in our instant-gratification world to acknowledge what someone’s done for you. I’ve received a couple of handwritten notes from folks I’ve hired. I can tell you that it not only made me feel good but kept those people in my thoughts. The next time I need to hire someone, I’ll likely think of one of these freelancers.
Even with referrals, not every prospect will turn into a paying client. That’s OK; you can’t take on all those prospects anyway. When a prospect doesn’t become a client, try to figure out why. Sometimes prospects will tell you. Mostly, though, you have to read between the lines or just plain-old ask, doing so professionally and positively. For example:
Thanks for letting me know. I’m glad you found someone who will work for you. If you don’t mind my asking, could you tell me why I wasn’t a good fit? It will help me with future prospects.
Are you ready to ramp up your business with referrals? Try this process out, and let me know in the comments how it goes!
Read more in this series: