Any networking expert will tell you that referrals are the key to keeping your business going- no matter what kind of business you run.
But for lots of computer consultants, asking for referrals isn’t so easy. Because, let’s face it, a lot of us “techie types” tend to be somewhat more quiet, introverted, and don’t find it easy to put ourselves ‘out there’ like other professionals seem to be able to do.
However, there’s no denying that to maintain a successful computer consulting business, you not only need to keep your existing clients happy, but you also need to always keep the coffers full, meaning you always have to have new leads coming in the door.
Without new referrals and new clients, eventually your sales will wane, you will make less money, and you will find it more difficult to keep your business running.
Fortunately, even for the most introverted IT consultant, if you’ve already got satisfied clients, referrals can be one of the easiest ways to keep the new clients rolling in. If you already have customers who trust you, respect you, and put their faith in you, they’ll generally be happy to tell people how wonderful you are and will encourage people to do business with you. Continue to do a great job for your clients and they will be all too willing to talk you up!
When you’ve got a client singing your praises to a colleague who trusts and values their opinion, you have a tremendous leg up on your competition.
But even if you’re the best computer consultant and your clients are thrilled, you still might fine the referrals few and far between. Because while they may be satisfied, the truth is after you’ve done your job, they aren’t thinking about you anymore. You need to ASK them to refer you.
Here are a few ways that you can gently get referrals in a way that your clients will not feel pressured by.
Try putting together a “Customer Satisfaction Survey”. Check out a service such as Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) where you can list four or five questions related to the services you provide. At the end of the survey, you can add a suggestions such as “If you’re happy with my service, please list a friend or colleague you thing I might be able to assist.”
The survey provides several great benefits. It can give you valuable insight as to how your customers truly view your level of service, and it opens the door to requesting the referral by first providing them with justification for making the contact, because they’ve just confirmed in their answers that you’re great.
Asking for the referral after the survey is also very easy, non-imposing and applies gentle pressure for the client to think of an actual name they can provide you with.
Also, make sure to keep your eyes open for the opportunities that present themselves to you on a regular basis. For example, right after you’ve completed a large project that went smoothly, send a nice thank you card to your client thanking them for the opportunity and suggesting that you’d be happy to assist a colleague and provide to them the same high quality service.
If you’re concerned that your shyness is getting in the way of acquiring new clients, try to change your mindset from sales to realizing that you are providing a well needed service. There are people out there who desperately need your services and would be all too happy to get a referral from a trusted associate. Continue to be a great consultant, and your work will be recognized – and talked about. Sometimes you just need to open a door for your clients to let the talking begin.