IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

3 Ways to Increase Customer Referrals and Boost Your Business

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Do you depend on referrals to grow your business? They can be powerful arrows in your quiver to target and deliver new prospects that give your business a boost. Referrals can be an easy homerun when they occur organically, but to count on them as a dependable lead source, you can’t just cross your fingers and leave it up to chance.

Referrals take time and commitment to curate—but they are worth it. Annex Cloud reported that 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know and also trust their friends’ recommendations seven times more than conventional advertising.

So, what does this mean for solution providers? It means your referral prospects will require less time, less effort and will close a lot faster than other lead sources.

There are many ways to incorporate referrals into your small business, but below are a few ideas that have worked really well for me in the past. 

1. Leverage Social Media

All the cool kids are doing it! Kidding aside, social is an easy and effective way to get more referral business. When looking at an IT provider’s business, LinkedIn and Facebook are the platforms I would focus on first.  

There is a little legwork involved here, but I’ve found LinkedIn to be one of the most successful ways to get referrals. Start by doing some research on companies in your area that you would like to target as potential customers. Then use the ‘Advanced People Search’ feature within Linked in to identify second-degree connections who are also connected to the target prospect.

Once you have identified a connection, you can reach out to your customer and ask them if they wouldn’t mind introducing you to the prospect. If your customer has been happy with your service, you will find they are typically willing to send a connection email on your behalf.

By approaching your customer with a specific connection in mind, you take away most of the work for them. They don’t have to spend time going through their list of friends and coming up with someone that might need your services. Identifying targets ahead of time will improve your odds of success.

2. Make Referrals Part of Your Onboarding Process

It’s always tricky trying to figure out where in the customer journey is appropriate to ask for a referral. Do you ask right after you close the deal? After the customer has been with you a year? When it’s time for their renewal? The options are endless.

I’ve found success asking at the completion of the onboarding process. At this stage, the customer is still very excited about the new partnership and (hopefully) just had a great onboarding experience and is all set up and ready to go.

If you don’t want to blatantly send out an email request asking customers to refer your business to others, you can disguise the referral ask by embedding it into your process. Send out a customer satisfaction survey at the end of onboarding—this will help you identify who’s had a really positive experience. If the results are helpful, have that trigger a follow-up email, thanking them for their business and asking them to refer you to their network.

You can always throw an incentive in there, but if the customer truly is impressed with their onboarding experience, you will often find them eager to share with their friends.

3. Make it Easy for Customers 

AKA, do the work for them.

I’ll admit it, I’ve literally written emails on behalf of my customers before and simply ask them to copy, paste, enter the email address, and hit “send.”  Everyone is busy and the easier you make it for your customer, the more likely they are to follow through.

Here’s an example email:

Hi {Prospect},

Hope all is well.

I know your business has been growing really fast lately – congratulations on the success! If you’re looking for additional expertise or resources around IT services, I’ve been working with {Insert Company Name and Contact} the past few months and they have really been terrific.

I wanted to shoot over a quick introduction so you can easily connect with {Contact} if there are any immediate needs.

I’ll leave it to both of you to connect further.

Regards,

{Customer}

Not sure how to write a referral email yourself? Go to Google and search “referral email templates” you will find a plethora of options. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I recommend this article from HubSpot—there are some good sample templates here.

Shannon Mayer is the vice president of customer success at Zomentum and vice chair of CompTIA’s Managed Services Community.

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About the Author

With more than 2,000 members, 3,000 academic and training partners and tens of thousands of registered users spanning the entire information communications and technology (ICT) industry, CompTIA has become a leading voice for the technology ecosystem.

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