Personal recommendations from satisfied customers go a long way in bringing new business to your coaching practice. So have you ever wondered why the clients who can’t say enough about how much they value working with you or taking your programs never send referrals your way? Or do you wonder why even your family or friends don’t tell others about your wonderful work?
Here are some of the most common reasons why people may not think to refer others to you:
- People don’t understand what you do. This is the most common reason I’ve seen in coaching, and the only way to overcome it is to specialize in solving a specific problem or set of problems. Most people wont’ refer clients to a life coach, but they will refer a client who’s struggling with their teenage son to a teen success coach!
- You don’t include getting referrals as an important part of your marketing strategy. So often we get caught up in all of the latest marketing tools and techniques that we lose sight of the basics. Sure, maintaining a blog and/or publishing a newsletter make excellent business sense. Yes, knowing how to tap into social media and offline networks should be an integral part of your marketing plan. And I can attest to the fact that making marketing videos is effective and fun. But if you don’t include getting referrals as part of your overall game plan, you’re most likely missing out on an excellent source of new and repeat business.
- You don’t think you should have to ask for them. Maybe you believe that your most satisfied current clients will just automatically think to tell others about you, or that your Mom and Aunt Louise will tell everyone they know about what you do. Au contraire! These clients came to you in the first place because something in your service offerings spoke directly to their own specific pain points. They may not make a connection between what you do and the situations that their friends or relatives face. And your family, even the most supportive, might not be able to fully explain what it is that you actually do for a living. Or maybe both your clients and relatives think you already have all the business that you need. Whatever the reasons, automatic referrals just don’t tend to happen. You need to learn how to ask for them.
- You don’t make it easy to refer you. If other people sent friends your way, how easy is it to navigate through your website? Is the sign up form for your blog, newsletter or freebie prominently located on your home page and simple to fill out? Are the benefits of working with you clearly stated? Do you offer a low cost “getting-to-know-you” program or book for people to purchase, or are all your products high-end priced and therefore not attractive to people who barely know you? Make sure your website serves as a welcome mat for any new visitors others might send your way.
- There’s no incentive to refer you. If you don’t have an affiliate program that pays commissions on your products, programs or services—why not? Enlisting current clients as affiliates and providing them with the tools to do so in the form of pre-written emails, tweets or classified ads is simply one of the best ways to encourage people to promote you to their friends, relatives and colleagues. Plus there are plenty of affordable virtual assistants out there who can assist you with both the technical and marketing aspects of creating your own affiliate program if you find the mechanics of doing so daunting.
- Your clients don’t feel like they are part of your inner circle. Let’s face it—many people have a need to belong, a need for inclusion in something special or meaningful. Try making your clients feel more like friends than prospects or customers, and they’ll most certainly speak highly of you and your services to others.
- You don’t have a referral system in place. I’m not talking just about an affiliate program here, although that could be a part of it. What I mean is having comprehensive but easy to maintain systems in place which have the sole purpose of generating referrals for you. One example of this is making sure your blog is equipped with one-click Facebook, Twitter, etc., “share” buttons. Another could be running periodic contests for your Twitter or Facebook followers who mention you or a current program you’re running. Still a third might be asking your ezine readers to forward the latest issue to their friends. Be creative with your systems, while at the same time keeping them simple.
- You don’t refer people to your clients. The most effective networking doesn’t happen on a one-way street. When you coach people one on one or through programs, look for skill sets they might have that you could recommend to others. This most definitely applies to sending new customers to friends and relatives who have their own businesses. You can create a tremendous amount of loyalty (not to mention new business) by doing this.
- You don’t have a freebie or initial offering worth sharing. How useful is the free special report, e-course, template or whatever you give to people in return for their names and email addresses? How valuable is the informational in your ezine? Is it something people would likely find worthwhile to share with others? Especially if you have an affiliate program, your free offerings need to be things that have value, things that others would be proud to pass along.
- You don’t remember to thank people for referrals. A simple “thank you” once in a while can certainly go a long way. This, too, applies even to those who sign up for and promote you through your affiliate programs. Sure, affiliates can earn commissions, but they also have thousands of products or programs they could be promoting. Thanking them for taking the time to promote yours will make them feel their efforts are appreciated, which in turn will provide them with motivation to promote you even more.
- You don’t actively engage in referral networking groups or activities. Do you belong to your local BNI chapter or chamber of commerce? Participate in any online forums with other coaches or entrepreneurs? By constantly broadening your personal and professional networks, and engaging with them regularly by providing valuable content and feedback, you will create the goodwill and visibility you need to be on the receiving end of referrals form others.
So there you have them—the top 11 reasons why you might not be getting a steady flow of new referrals from current clients, colleagues or even family. By incorporating referral-getting techniques into all that you do, you may eventually find that they become the most critical part of your overall marketing strategy.
P.S. Want to create best-selling coaching programs? Discover how to pack enormous value into your coaching programs, so potential clients would have to be crazy to turn down your offer: