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March 10, 2016
Marketing  |  3 min read

Fill Your Sales Funnel with Referrals

Just like finding a good date, marketers want to find the best prospects they can so they can fill their sales funnel with great business leads. The higher the quality that goes into the funnel, the better the quality that comes out. This infographic from WOMMA says it so well. So the question is, “How do you get the best possible prospects in the top of your funnel?” If you want leads that are like the customers you have now, then you need to meet their friends. It’s no secret that the best lead you can get is a referral from a happy customer; you have a higher closing ratio and the cost per lead should be lower than every other source. Sounds like the perfect date—not too expensive and just what you were looking for! I invite you to sit back for a second and ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Do you have a habit of seeking referrals?
  2. Is it automated?
  3. Does it work?

Make a habit of seeking referrals

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we lose focus on what is most important. Don’t let this happen to your referral system!  Here are a few tips to make sure you keep your eye on the goal:

  1. Let your customer know up front that by the end of the transaction you will be seeking referrals. This makes the invitation easier at the end and gets them thinking now of possible leads.
  2. Create a simple way for your customer to refer you, just like a payment method, contract signature or delivery. The opportunity to give you a referral should not be a painful or scary experience, but a natural one.
  3. The golden rule. The best way to grease the wheels is to be prepared with a referral of your own when that time comes. If you give them a few names of people that would be great customers for them, it will surely spark their desire to help you in return.

Automate it

This can also help with making seeking referrals a habit, but what I want you to focus on here is a swift, clear process. When someone gives you a chance to work with a friend, make sure that it does not slip through the cracks. Do not treat a referral the same as you do a cold lead; remember we are trying to fill the top of the sales funnel with the highest quality we can. Treat the lead like gold.  Make sure your system had a clear, defined path leading to the sale.

Watch and learn

Keep a close eye on your conversion. This should be the easiest and lowest cost lead to convert. Most likely everything is fine to this point.  If not, then take a good look at your system and the call to action. Most important look at your lead. Are you asking for the right kind of referral? Take a look at what Dropbox did to leverage referral in their growth (see slide 31). It resulted in 2.8 Million direct referral invites in 30 days! Keep in mind the care and attention you paid your first date with that perfect person. Be sure to be kind, courteous, and, perhaps the best advice dad ever gave me, be yourself.  Stay aware of your referral system, the care you pay your leads, and the habit of always asking for new names. You will enjoy a growing business with happy customers, and many second dates.

Ross Walker is the CEO and co-founder of CircleFive. Their focus is helping the small and medium sized business grow revenue with referral marketing. You can find him on twitter at @rossjwalker.

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