Our success in the hospitality industry depends a great deal on existing relationships and our face-to-face interactions. Referrals are one of the best ways to successfully build your network and improve your business results whether you work for an organization or are an independent meeting professional. The following is a 5+ step process to improve your ability to earn referrals.
First we must understand the key to it all…the (+). The (+) is the first step before we take any of the steps below. The (+) is giving a referral or offering a favor unsolicited and in advance of asking for anything. We need to search for opportunities to help those who may be able to return the favor and assist us. Once you have offered a referral or favor, you can ask for one in return. When working to earn referrals, you want to take the following steps:
- Ask for the referral
- Be sincere and specific with your request
- Say thank you
- Ask if there is anything else that you can do for them
I enjoy sports and find sports analogies helpful to clarify a point. Referrals are to salespeople what base hits are to baseball players. First, the baseball player must get on base and then will have the opportunity to score. In our professional lives, we must first get in front of prospective customers before we can earn their business. Since referrals are the best way to meet these potential customers, how good are you at getting your fair share? Let’s take the following quiz and rate yourself at how well you are doing:
|1. Are you happy with the number of referrals you have received to date?|
|2. Do you steadily improve your referral getting expertise?|
|3. Do you have a referral gathering goal?|
|4. When you do a favor for a customer, do you ask for a referral in return?|
|5. Do you try to get referrals from non-competing sales associates and repay the favor?|
|6. Do you ask friends, family and neighbors for referrals?|
|7. Do you ask your industry partners for referrals?|
|8. Do you give your referral sources a thank you gift?|
|9. Do you get unsolicited referrals from your current customers?|
|10. Do you check out your referral gathering strategy with others in your company?|
|TOTAL NUMBER of GOOD ANSWERS|
How many ‘Good’ answers do you have? It has been proven within our industry (and other industries), the better you are at earning referrals, the greater your sales and the higher your income will be. Please add up the number of GOOD answers. A score of 9 or 10 is outstanding; 7 or 8 is very good; 6 is above average. If you scored 5 or less, the message is clear that you need to improve your referral strategy.
The skill of giving and getting referrals is the key to building a successful business in our industry and especially if you are an independent hospitality professional. The facts demonstrate that if you are not asking for referrals, you are missing out on building a fantastic client base…BIG TIME. Over 70% of people do not ask for referrals. Your clients are busy people and they might not think to recommend you. If you let them know you would appreciate help getting the word out about your business, you are planting a seed in their mind to think of you next time someone they know talks about the service you offer.
Your challenge beginning right now is to spend the time and effort to master this skill. It will make a difference in your business!