How To: Asking Your B2B Customers For Referrals

How To: Asking Your B2B Customers For Referrals

B2B advertising referralsWord of mouth marketing out-performs B2B inbound marketing and outbound marketing every time. What makes word of mouth marketing so difficult is you have to do something spectacular to get people to talk about it. It’s easier to do when you sell something really fun like the latest technological gadget, but what about when you sell boxes or printer toner? How do you get your customers to tell other businesses about you?

Social Media Stalking, I mean, Monitoring

Maybe that sounds a little creepier than it should. Social media not only connects us, but it also allows us to learn about people we don’t know. Make a list of your top 10 prospects and the contact person at the company. You can learn a lot of this information by searching online. When you have a contact name, search for that person on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. Are any of your current customers connected to your prospects? Before you ask for an introduction, make sure you are on steady ground with this customer. Start the conversation by asking how they know your prospect. Finish by asking if the person would be willing to give an introduction via e-mail or phone or (even better) invite the prospect to lunch where you’ll foot the bill for your customer and the prospect. Not only does this scenario hopefully get you in front of your prospect, but it also reminds your customer that you are currently looking for additional customers. In the midst of doing business with you, he may have just not thought about passing your name along.

Case Study Writing

Think about the customers you have helped the most in the last year. What was their problem and how did you solve it? Do your prospects have similar problems? Could this solution or the method you used to create the solution work for other companies? Compile a case study that covers who your customers are, what their goals are, what challenges they faced and what problem you solved. Continue to explain how you solved their problem and the result. Then finish by relating it to the bottom line. What were they able to accomplish because you solved their problem?

The key to making this case study really stand out is to gather some testimonial quotes from your customers. Ask them why they chose to work with your company and how they’ve benefitted from working with you. Let them know about the case study, give them a copy to proof prior to releasing it and make sure they get some positive publicity out of it as well. Your customers don’t have to call anyone to make this referral. Their referral is built into the piece. You can offer this case study to your prospects facing similar problems and house it on your B2B website. More than likely your customer will share it on their social media sites as well.

Customer Referring

We’re a part of a local BNI group where the motto is “Givers’ Gain”. Some people naturally think about referring a great product or service on to friends or co-workers. Others haven’t worked in a business environment where that’s commonplace. By referring your friends, co-workers or other customers to your customers you build trust. Your goal isn’t just to sell to them, it’s to help grow their business. In return, they will be more likely to think about your company when someone they know experiences a problem you can solve. Don’t just expect your customers to refer to you automatically. Make them feel good about making the referral.

Online Sharing

Social media allows your customers a way to identify with you without having to do hard selling to get you in front of their friends and family. Provide great content on your website or social sites that your customers will want to share. Send out updates through a B2B email marketing campaign. Encourage your customers to share the information from your email with people they know. When a person shares something online and especially says something positive about your company, product or service, they’ve added credibility to your company. Before they can share it, you have to make it available. Maybe it’s updates on industry news, or maybe it’s a funny picture or gif that relates to your industry. Make sure your company’s name is branded somewhere in the content so they don’t just share the information but your name as well.

Proactive Asking

The bottom line will likely come down to asking. If you create a case study about a project you did for a client, ask him or her to share it on their social media. Don’t just wait and hope he or she will think of it. Ask your client for a referral to a prospect. Ask for a testimonial for your website. Ask for an introduction to a prospect your client knows. If you’ve provided a valuable solution at a fair price with great customer service, your customers will likely be glad to help you. They just don’t always think about it.

Thank You Giving

Everyone likes to be recognized when they do something nice. I once received a box of bakery cupcakes for a referral that turned into business for a friend. Car lots and other companies with high-dollar items often offer $100 cash for referrals. Make the thank you personal. You can usually tell by looking at someone’s desk if they like a particular sports team, activity or hobby. Offer them a gift card to a favorite restaurant, a small gift branded with their team’s logo or a gift certificate for a round of golf. Not only will the referrer know you appreciated their efforts but they will also know you took the time to get to know them.

Your customer base is a wealth of contacts and referrals from people who already buy from you and like you. It’s an invaluable part of your B2B advertising success. Don’t let it sit there. Make it work for you.

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