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Ask for referrals the right way

May 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Most of us are uncomfortable asking for referrals. But if customers love what you do, they want to help you succeed. They will give referrals if asked properly. If customers are recommending you, show appreciation with a formal referral program. The referral program might be a unique gift, a discount, a dinner on you, a donation to their charity of choice, or some other incentive that your type of customer base will appreciate. Here are a few things to consider when setting up your referral program:

  • Pick a gift that is appropriate for the customer. (Respect company ethics and policies.)
  • Set up a gifting system that is easy to administer by both you and your customer.
  • Understand how much you are willing to pay for a hot lead and then invest appropriately.
  • Publicize the program on your website, in your literature, e-mails and surveys.

How much are you willing to pay for a lead? Consider the costs for a trade show booth, an advertisement, the Google CPC, and then compare this to a customer giving you a name. The minimum I have seen is a $20 gift, but this depends on your customer base and what will motivate them to send people your way. One creative program offered a $20 donation to the charity of their choice. It is worth the time to figure out what works and implement it!

Michael Casey is president and founder of Survey Advantage ( He is a strategic partner with NAPL supporting its consulting and research practices, he integrates project surveying with MIS systems and he is an approved supplier for several franchise networks.