The Forgotten Sales Channel
Many businesses invest very heavily in marketing initiatives, attempting to attract new customers through media campaigns and digital advertising. Undoubtedly these tools are essential for growth: but sometimes a simple, cost-free sales channel is forgotten. If the theory “six degrees of separation” is true and we have the potential to connect to anyone on the planet through a chain of acquaintances, why do so many businesses forget to ask their customers and partners for referrals?
Colin Mills of The FD Centre comments, “We have always worked very hard to maximize the referrals we give to and receive from other businesses that share similar target customer profiles such as banks and legal services. However we were nervous about asking our clients for referrals to other businesses that might need our services. Eventually, every time our customers said that we had done a good job, we started to ask if they could recommend us to anyone else. Much to our surprise, they did. This has not come easily to our chief financial officers – we are a humble breed. But for us, this small request involves minimal investment and has incredible returns.”
Irrefutably, word of mouth is an important source of business and yet many companies do not invest time or are simply too shy to ask. It is important to remember that a satisfied customer is the best advocate for your business. They are not being asked to take any risks, but rather to give the facts about your product or service and to share their experiences with others. Delighted clients will be more than happy to do so.
Do not forget that there should always be a reciprocal relationship: referring your clients to those that could benefit from their offerings is always considered best practice. This cycle of goodwill will result in relationships that have more power to generate sales leads than many capital-intensive marketing programs.
Just remember: contented customers are your unpaid sales team.