How to Get Referrals that Impact Your Prospect’s Buying Decision

If you speak to some of the most successful freelance writers in business today, most, if not all, will tell you some of their best clients come from referrals.

In fact, many of the six-figure copywriters I speak with say the majority of their business comes from referrals. It’s been my experience as well.

So, how do you build “business champions” who will freely promote your business for you?

The other day, I spoke with a prospective new client, A.C., who came to me by way of referral from a former client.

During our first conversation, A.C. told me that she had spoken to several business associates about who they used for their copywriting projects. She told me the impressive who’s who list of well-known marketers in the Internet marketing world she’d spoken with. And then she said something that caught me off guard: “The recommendation I received for you was by far the best, so I called you first.”

I tell you this not to brag, but for one simple reason:

I’m not so sure that I am necessarily better than the other people recommended to A.C. However, I did do some things to get a better referral than anyone else.

I want to share my secrets. They’ll help you turn clients into champions that will boast about you, make you look better than your competitors, and connect you with referrals that can make your business soar.

How to connect with ideal referral partners

In my article, How to Build a Steady Stream of Clients in 5 to 10 Minutes a Day, I discuss getting referrals from people you already know, regardless if they are a client or not.

Here, I want to specifically talk about getting the right type of clients to promote you. These are: Strategic people who are well-connected within your niche or your target audience that you can form an alliance with or do freelance work for. Or, a highly-successful business owner that you respect and admire the way they do business.

To get connected to your ultimate referral partner, ask for a specific introduction from people who know, like, and trust you and are connected to the people you’d like to do business with. This could be a current client, a friend or associate, or from someone you did a good job for in a different, unrelated field.

That’s right, you have to get a referral to the “connected people” to get those breakthrough referrals I’ve been talking about. It’s networking, plain and simple. Think of it as a referral “ladder.”

How to build your connection into a business champion

Once you have an ideal referral partner, there are things you can do to encourage a glowing referral versus a simple introduction. It’s a process. And, it does take some work — nobody will give you an outstanding referral without having gotten to know you and your work, of course.

Obviously, you have to do great work for them. But, you have to do more. Note: This is also good overall advice for how to work with your clients, whether or not you are looking for a referral.

  • Constantly and consistently add value to their life. When you can shift the focus onto how you can be an asset to other people, you’ll plant a seed of goodwill that will come back to you.

    Act as if you are an interested business partner. What ideas can you suggest that might make your client more money? (Even if it’s not something you can implement and get paid for.)

    For example, last week, I spoke with one of my business champions whom I’m not even doing work for at the moment. I gave him an idea for selling his product in a new way that could be worth millions to him. It wasn’t an idea that he would need me to implement, but it was very valuable and not one he’d thought of before.

  • Always be cheerful, upbeat, and positive. No matter what is happening in your life, never let them hear your complaints. People like to be around happy people — it makes them feel good, brightens their day, and makes you stand out because, unfortunately, it’s rare to find.
  • Be easy to work with. While you don’t always have to agree with every change or idea a client suggests, be open-minded and accept feedback and suggestions readily. Make suggestions, but never be argumentative or confrontational. For example, never tell a client flat-out that an idea they have won’t work. Instead, say something like, “That’s a good idea and it might work, but here are a few things we should consider before we make that change.” You can also do little things that make a big impact, like responding with “No problem!” when a client makes a request.
  • Never let them see you sweat. While you may not always feel confident, you never want to let your clients see you waiver or hear you express doubt in yourself. Save those comments for your mentor, your spouse, or your copywriting partner.
  • Make them feel important. When you know someone is or can be a true champion, go out of your way to deliver what they need. Sometimes that means working late to get a rush job out for them. Sometimes it means scheduling them in for a phone call when you’re really busy. Basically, let them know by your actions and what you say that they take priority.
  • Admit when you make a mistake. You want to avoid mistakes. But, if you make one, admit it immediately, along with a solution for how you might correct it.
  • Always turn your projects in on time. This should go without saying, but always being on time or even early is a crucial component to getting a glowing referral.
  • Keep them informed. Sending a quick email to let your client know the status of their project gives them peace of mind that everything is on schedule and on time. For example, recently I was working on a major project with 60 components. Rather than sending all 60 at once, I sent them in batches and let the client know what they could expect and when they would be receiving the next batch. It was one less thing they had to worry about, and gave their graphic artist a head start by not having to wait until my due date to get everything at once.

By building business champions, you’ll make it far easier to get great referrals. Not to mention that starting a conversation from the basis of a glowing referral injects you into an environment that not only makes it easier to get hired, but speeds up the process. Plus, often there is little or no price resistance because the prospective client you were referred to believes you must be a good value or you wouldn’t have been recommended so highly.

Take the same steps with the person you’ve been referred to and you’ll get even more referrals (a veritable referral network at work on your behalf) — which means you’ll greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the need to cold-call for new business.

Start your plan today to build business champions and soon you’ll see your referrals, income, and business grow.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: November 17, 2011

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