Using Referrals to Grow Your Business

Easy tips to Increase Sales, Gain Trust and Get REFERRALS

Referrals, are the root of your business. Sounds easy but when it comes down to it people feel intimidated and awkward to ask a client for a referral. You may spend days or even weeks negotiating with a client and unsure of when or how is the right time to ask for a referral for new business. However, each time you do not ask you're missing out on the potential client of a lifetime and sales. Knowing when and how to ask is key to the success of getting a referral.    

When you get a referral, create superb customer service.

Once a client knows you and can trust you, they are more likely to recommend you at their next business meeting. This includes returning emails and phone calls promptly and friendly. Today, people expect to get answers instantaneously and if you are not responding they will find your competitor. Reach out to the client regularly just to touch base and make sure they are happy with the service you are providing them. Mark on your calendar a routine time to check in so not too much time passes between meetings and remind them you are there & create a reason to ask for a referral. 

Make your client feel special. If your launching a new product, make it available exclusively for current clients first rather than the entire general public. This allows for feedback and brag ability from the client that they got to see it first because they work with you. "Invitation Only" is a great way market a product before it comes out and make a client feel special. 

Make it personal and remind them to refer you. Just a simple handshake and a smile, "Great doing business with you. Please refer us to any potential clients we are excited to share our expertise."  Hand them a business card so they have a constant visual reminder of who you are and what you do. Turn your business card into a magnet so it stands out from other cards. You could incorporate the word referral into your business logo or motto so it automatically is included in every advertising campaign and business meeting. 

Host an appreciation event. Say thank you often and let them know you recognize the referrals and appreciate them. These events can help you get to know each other and build on the existing relationships. The client can network through you and return the favor by referring you in their network. Events are also a great place to showcase what your companies strengths and capabilities are and how they help other companies.  

Social Media is another great way to stay in touch. Ask them to follow you or connect with them on different platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, twitter and Snapchat. Then at the next business meeting you can ask them how their kids soccer meet went or how adorable their new puppy is. This gives you and them a personal view into each others lives and makes them feel more like a friend than business associate. 

Next, use social media to see who your clients are following. Are they connected with someone who is a potential client for you? Ask for an introduction. The introduction will be more personal if you are introduced through a friend and more likely to be taken into consideration.

Sometimes, clients need to be taught how to refer you. Add a line on your website for referral submissions. This makes it easy for a client to refer you without having to look up your contact information and making a phone call which takes time out of their day. You could also do this on emails or social media. The easier it is for clients to do, the more likely they will come through and send you a referral. Make sure they how to get in touch with you and where you are located, especially if you're to nearby the client making the introduction.

Last but not least, please know that building loyalty takes time! Creating a genuine relationship means you have to be transparent, honest, and deliver on what your promise.

Take a keen interest in the genuine success of a client. Ask them specific questions about their business and their lives. Have them add your number into their personal phone contacts and invite them to the summer BBQ. Write notes about each meeting and what you discussed with specific details to review prior to talking on the phone or just before a meeting with them. 

Remember referrals are there to be your strongest form of new business. Take the extra time to onboard new clients, make them feel important, and deliver on what you promise. This will ensure people will flock to you to keep doing business. 

Do You Mow Your Lawn?

Do You Mow Your Lawn?

You see, that old red push mower is so loud that the only thing you can hear are your thoughts. 

It takes me about 90 minutes to mow the lawn and it is some of the best time I have to myself because I get to just think. A lot of times I think about the family or what I would like to do with the yard. Maybe a swimming pool or a new walk way. However, more recently, that time is spent strategizing on what to do next in our business or for our clients’ business. My time spent mowing the lawn is where I get some of my most creative ideas from. 

Using social media to identify & reach out to influencers; ACTION vs Talk. How to tell the difference.

Using social media to identify & reach out to influencers; ACTION vs Talk. How to tell the difference.

There are two ways to make sure you don’t get duped by someone blasting about the latest trend. The first is to inspect what you expect. If you give directions and an important task to a member of your team, follow-up. Make them accountable. The second element that will help you avoid this mistake is to set clear expectations and participate in the process. 

I Want to Stab Monday in the FACE!

Not Really. I actually love Mondays. It is a preverbal blank slate. You get to start fresh. Or at least that what society tells you. 

If you’re not excited about Monday and working today and the rest of the week - you are doing something wrong. Either you’re in the wrong job you have the wrong business

I was really fortunate to play sports growing up and even a little in college. I won’t make it romantic, but I was one of the 100 guys on our team for 2 years at a division 1-AA school in NYC. It was humbling not being “The Man” on campus. If I am being honest, I was not as dedicated to it as a could have been. I realized I was not going to the NFL so I doubled down where I thought I could excel.

I retired from football and started connecting with people. Other students, the city, events and really experienced college. I also learned how it was WORK to meet these people and develop real connection. I felt that if I was going to be successful, I had to get to know people.

I was not super wealthy, so I also knew that if I wanted to stay in New York or accomplish anything, I needed to WORK. Every day became an opportunity.

When I was in college during the off season, or during breaks I wouldn’t go home and visit family. I would go to Florida to work. I started to learn timeshare. But really, I started to learn business. How to be in business and what it meant to make decisions. 

You all know Timeshare, right? It is usually considered a couple of rungs below used car salesman.

Well when I started out, my boss and first mentor had me and my best friend go door to door selling time share vacations. Asking people to buy certificates for 3-days and 2 nights to a resort for $99.00. Truth was, we took $29.00 if we could get a sale.  

But it was exciting. I didn’t care that it was Orlando in July. I knew I had the opportunity to speak with 80 people. If we sold 5 the we felt we had a GREAT day!

Listen, your situation is what you make it. If you work or have a job, the only one that can change it is you. You may have responsibilities, we all do. You might have kids, or a mortgage or alimony payments or someone just died. I will tell you, there is nothing more difficult then getting started. The 2nd most difficult thing is not giving up. 

So when you want to stab Monday in the face, to me what you’re saying is, you want to stab your future in the face. 

I know I know, I should not get on a high horse like this, but seriously. I am not. We are all accountable for our actions. We all want to have more time for ourselves, for our friends, and for our families. What you’re really saying is that you want FREEDOM. You’re not going to get freedom working a 9-5 job where you punch a clock. Do you know anyone that is a millionaire that works 9-5?

So instead of complaining about the day of the week, use the rest of the day as a building block to the rest of your week. 

For a long time, it felt better to sleep all day then get up and try to keep fighting. I discovered what my “win” was. That feeling that makes you want to keep going and makes all the “no’s” or slammed doors worth it. Sometimes, that isn’t closing a sale. Sometimes that is actually giving back. 

What are you really really good at? Is that your passion too? 

So clearly, I have a passion for people. For my family, for my friends - hell even for strangers. Because really they are just friends that don’t know it yet. So when I was walking those neighborhoods in Orlando and Winter Park Florida in the middle of July, what kept me going at 3p in the afternoon was the rush of introducing myself to someone new. They may not buy anything, but my win was a real conversation. I could build off of that. The next door, I wanted to do a little more. Maybe I would try a new opening statement when they answered the door bell. Or maybe I would try a new story to connect with a bumper sticker or toy in the yard. Every door presented a new challenge. A blank slate to start fresh.

Why would people buy this certificate from me or why would they buy eventually buy a timeshare? Because it is an emotional decision. People don’t like to be sold, but they LOVE TO BUY! In this case, what they’re actually buying is HOPE. You HOPE you get to travel. You hope you will have more time to spend with love ones. You HOPE you have the money to go on vacation. You HOPE you have more TIME.

The investment you made was your time. You decided to spend 90 minutes at a resort or sales office for a free cruise or free tickets or a free VCR. Once you leave the resort, the investment you made was money - but in your head it was a future bank of memories.

You will never get to your future bank by stabbing Monday in the face. By stabbing Monday in the face, now you have wasted 14.3% of your week by writing off Monday. Or if you want to be real specific, 17 hours of your week that you could have been using to better yourself so that you could actually take that trip and build real memories. So don’t stab Monday in the face. Use Monday as the next step in your journey to making your life better. It is up to you what “better” means. But it does not mean wasting the time you have been given.  

The 2 Most Important Things to Do in Business - Stand Out & Make Money! (Final Installment)

We made it! In preparation for Justin Starbird's seminar on August 20th at the Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce, his 5 Part Series on 5 Business Mistakes to Avoid concludes with these last 2 points. (Register Here for the Seminar.)

The focus on this presentation by Justin will focus on "How to Tell Your Story." 

"A lot of businesses, ESPECIALLY in Maine, think that they can get by on their service or quality or word of mouth. The truth is, they need to stand out. Find their special 'niche' and tell their community & the world." - Justin Starbird.

Parts 4 & 5

#4. No Differentiation in the Marketplace

Everyone is out there trying to create a business. Anyone with a hooded sweatshirt can be the next Instagram, or the next Baxter Brewing, right?

In fact, Entrepreneur.com put out a story entitled  “Why Everyone Will Have To Become An Entrepreneur”. If this holds true, instead of your competition being 50 other people with dreams of paddle boarding in Newport Beach or Malibu, it could soon be 50,000 of these guys.

What does that even mean? The answer: A LOT!

For those companies that don’t have anything unique to add to their industry, there will be plenty of noise and chaos for those fighting for the bottom scraps in their market. Most times this is a slow killer of businesses. Barely hanging on, entrepreneurs with some customers and some revenue skimp along for months or even years. Every painful inch wondering to themselves if this is all there really is.

Or sometimes just as bad is when an entrepreneur works hard to discover that one point of differentiation and then blows it because they have no idea how to communicate their message in a clear, concise and compelling manner. Although different, bleeding out in this manner is just as excruciating because often times they know they are different, but don’t realize that their customers don’t know the difference.

It is actually pretty simple. Learn how to communicate better. If an entrepreneur is truly engaged in conversation (read: dialogue, not monologue), then you’ll learn the language of your customer. If your customer is Colombian, you need to speak Spanish; please stop trying to speak Russian to them. Listen to the words and language that your customers use and then integrate it into your business and culture. Focus on these 3 points:

  1. Be clear (Are your customers clear on what you ARE and what you are NOT? Are your customers clear on what value you bring to them?).

  2. Be concise (Are you somewhat clear but go on and on and on in your messaging? They don’t want to hear you, so keep it quick.).

  3. Be compelling (Do the words you use persuade your customers to take the action you want them to?)

In the end, being in business is a zero sum game. If you’re making money, someone else is not. If you buy a Pepsi, Coke missed out. It is tough. If you fail to accurately define where your product or market fit is or where your money gets made, then you’re sunk.

So... TELL YOUR STORY

What are you GREAT at in your business? Have you ever thought that if others could just see that one thing, they would choose you? Or have you ever said that you have no problem selling; you just need more people to sell to? The key to growth is consistently having more prospects & more products to sell. The Aebli Group process is to set up systems & automated processes for you to make sure that the funnels are always full. From lead generation, to collateral, to sales and follow-up, The Aebli Group team will walk you through how to set up a system for each step.

#5 Lack of a Profitable Business Model

Entrepreneurs can actually have each of the 4 above reasons solved, but still miss the business model boat.

Established businesses & startups need to move swiftly without spending tons of cash to figure out their secret sauce. Using tools and methodologies such as Minimum Viable Products, Lean Marketing and Experimentation is critical. Honestly, in today’s climate, it is easier then ever to do that. Using Fiverr, 99Designs, and Amazon, you can have a business in literally hours.

A perfect example of this comes from Tony Hsieh’s book ‘Delivering Happiness”, wherein he describes the early days of Zappos. Back in the late 90's, just before the first tech bubble burst, Tony & his co-founders weren’t even sure people would dare order shoes over the Internet. There was still very much a security stigma about purchasing something online. The guys ran a quick test: they created a barebones website with images of shoes taken from manufacturers’ websites, some buy now call to action buttons and watched to see what would happen.

Cha-ching! 

Order came through, one of the guys sprints to the local shoe store, buys the requested shoes at full retail, and then ran back home to ship out the brand new shoes. Did they lose money on every pair of shoes shipped? Yes they did.

However, they quickly ascertained whether they had a potentially viable business immediately. All with zero inventory or fulfillment capabilities. Have you thought how you could pull off a similar project?

Think and move quickly, ‘fail fast’ if you’re going to fail at all, and nail your business model. 

#PROVENPROFITABLE

Sometimes the most difficult part of the business is making it profitable. It is one thing to have the whole business plan lain out, for sales to start coming in and then realize that the margins are too thin to make the business work. What the team at The Aebli Group does every single day is work with you on how to add value to your customers & clients so that they never choose to do business with you on price. We want them to pick you for all of the other reasons & then get a great deal as a way to say thank you for being a customer – not to be a customer.

With so many things working against you, how can you expect to be successful in your business?

The truth is, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. A lot of times people think it is a great idea or will be easy but are sorely misguided. In fact, if you’re a personality type of a number 2 or #3, there is nothing wrong with that. The work place is full of poorly fitted roles in companies.

But, if you are truly someone with a great idea or a business that is on the cusp of something great, then this document is a cautionary message to make sure you avoid pitfalls that can undermine what you have worked so hard to build.

The way to be certain that you avoid the 5 reasons that were outlined about why a business fails is to first recognize your weaknesses. If you’re missing a “piece” find it, and fix it. All businesses can be rehabilitated.

Justin Starbird, CEO of The Aebli Group, is an expert on helping you create value in your market. He has helped countless companies & organizations position themselves as the solution to their customers’ problem and authorities in their industry.

Justin brings his laser like focus to helping you find that ‘key trigger’ that makes you better or different in your industry. Once armed with that knowledge, the rest of The Aebli Group Team helps you put in systems and integrate automation so that your customers are raising their hand and running to do business with you.

The Aebli Group is ready for the challenge & we are looking forward to working with you!

Register for Justin's seminar on Thursday August 20th Here> TELL YOUR STORY!