Two years ago, a friend told me she was getting into the real estate and asked me for advice. My advice was to NOT be a real estate agent! Why? real estate is a highly competitive field with little differentiation between service offerings. A real estate agent provides almost the exact same service as the next real estate agent and thus differentiation is always a nebulous question. Fast forward two years and she is now the top agent in her region. She started from ground zero and built a wildly successful practice in only 24 months. So how did she do it?
Let’s explore some of the common misconceptions first.
First she didn’t spend any more advertising dollars than the rest of her peers, nor did she take less commissions for her work. She has a good work ethic, but her hours on the job were no greater than her competitors. Did she have a degree from some prestigious University? No, she spent some time in community college but I wouldn’t describe her as a Nobel prize laureate. What I’m trying to say is that like millions of hard working, ordinary North Americans, she was young lady that just wanted to a decent living. So what got that growth engine moving?
The key was and still is quite simple. She put 3 simple concepts into practice and watched her business explode!
1) She asked one simple question
2) She made into a habit
3) She turned into a system
1) The Simple Question? Can you refer me to 5 friends and family who could use my services?
In the corporate world this concept is called Advocate Marketing more commonly known as Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM). Studies show that almost 40% of people would refer products/services but only about 5% actually do. The reason for the discrepancy? People, businesses and companies just simply don’t ask. Think about it, when was the last time you visited an online store or even a brick and mortar business and you were asked this simple question “Can you refer someone to my business?”. Word of Mouth Marketing is extremely powerful, it is the oldest and single most powerful marketing technique known to mankind. But you need to get the engine moving by initiating the referral process. When my friend started asking that one question she was surprised that more than 50% of the people she asked actually did refer and refer enthusiastically.
2) Turn it into a habit
Working out once just makes you sore. Working out consistently makes you strong. Ask the question and keep asking. Studies show that it takes an average of 4 requests for a person to actually process what you’re asking. Ask, ask again and keep asking.
3) Turn it into a system
Now this is a bit tricky because a system that worked for my friend may not work for you. But there are some concepts that apply to all business. When you ask is just as important as what you ask. My friend learned that asking for a referral after a successful close worked best. Following up with a reminder about 2 days usually caught another 90% of the people that didn’t refer on the first ask. She figured out that many of her clients behaved very similarly and built an “ask” calendar. She then used software to help craft messages and remind her when and to whom she needed to send messages. Her referral system is now a well oiled machine.
So How Does This Translate To Growing Your Online Business?
Here’s the first question, do you have a customer referral program for your business?
Second question, do you ask your customers for a referral consistently?
And the third question, do you have an automated and intelligent way of asking for referrals?
If you’ve answered yes to all three questions then congratulations I’m probably preaching to the choir. If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, then it’s time to take a look at how you can grow your business by implementing the oldest and most effective marketing technique in history.
Take a look at a customer referral platform such as Forewards (http://forewardsapp.com). Forewards is an extremely user friendly, fully automated customer referral engine that helps turn your customers into sales reps. The software will ask the simple question, ask the question multiple times in effective intervals and will do this while you sleep.
Visit Forewards to find out more information about implementing an effective customer referral program for your business.