Business To Business Referrals
How many companies habitually follow a process of reconnecting with former clients and asking for business to business referrals? For smaller companies, particularly startups, the percentage is startlingly low. Particularly with companies providing expensive products, referrals can be the largest driver of new business. As an example, partners at McKinsey, the renowned consulting firm, do not sell the firm’s services. These partners rely solely on their reputations and referrals from former clients for new business.
How To Ask Clients For Referrals
I recommend contacting your former client with the following email 2-4 weeks after your services are completed (or the product has been shipped):
1. Thank you for using our services. We appreciate your business.
2. If you do know of any other companies who are interested in our services, we would be very appreciative of your referral. (You can potentially include a discount code that a referral could give to peers.)
3. If we can ever be of help to you in the future, even by connecting you to anyone in our network, please let us know (you can send the URL to your LinkedIn profile here.)
For high value customer, particularly if you are in the financial services industry, I also recommend sending a small gift and hand written letter on client birthday and holiday occasions.
It is so important that you not only ask for a referral, but also offer to help the client in the future in any way. This gesture will make a difference. In a world where companies continue to be commoditized, it is the relationships you have with your clients that will provide your company with an engine for growth. You should not underestimate the importance of these business to business referrals.