In a highly competitive recruitment marketplace, more than ever people are using referrals to select who they work with, be they candidates looking for their dream career or clients looking to plug a gap in the team.
A referral is simply an act of referring to someone or something for review, action or consultation. In the world or recruiting, it means asking a client or candidate to direct someone else to you; to recommend you as a great recruiter whose services could be of benefit to them.
Referrals have a high conversion rate, are known to be faster to close, and have a better lifetime value. They ‘re an excellent way to develop new leads. And they keep your business moving forward.
If you can develop a name for yourself as a great company to work for - trustworthy and credible - you’re on to a winner.
Be good at what you do…
…and the referrals will come. Remind your customers why your business is unique. What do you offer that others don’t? Do you provide a monthly newsletter, reports or white papers on industry-relevant news and post blogs for your clients? All these will enable clients to see you in a favourable light.
If you earn the respect and trust of your clients and candidates, positive feedback will follow. Ensure you act on it.
Asking may not be something you feel comfortable with, but referrals don’t just fall into your lap (well, rarely). You need to plan and carry out your plan actively. For it to succeed, you need to be motivated and confident, overcoming any embarrassment about asking for referrals or the name of someone who is looking to recruit or move.
Get into the positive zone. You know you’re a great business and offer a wealth of knowledge and experience to your customers. You’ve already done an excellent job – getting them their ideal candidate or job placement. Therefore, they will likely be happy to provide a referral.
Asking for a referral
Choose your referral prospects wisely. Typically, those clients and candidates for who you have provided exceptional service: those who know the value of what you offer.
Think about the personalities of the people you are going to approach for a referral. If they are outgoing, they may favour a direct approach - you could call them and ask outright. However, if your client or candidate is more reserved, it pays to be more tactful. You may need to refine your approach. Perhaps they will respond better to an email?
Alternatively, they may prefer to write a testimonial for you to use on your website, or complete a form online (consider free software such as SurveyMonkey).
Whichever method of contact you choose, make sure you’re clear in what you would like them to provide.
Personalise your request
Don’t be tempted to send out a catch-all email asking for referrals. It‘s likely most will go unread. Instead, consider personalising your contact, tailoring it to the individual client. This will give them a sense of their value to you, and they are more likely to respond.
Similarly, its good to call. If you can schedule a personal call, it says you value that individual and their opinion.
Offer an incentive
You know the service you provide is excellent, but everyone likes a special offer too. So, think about what you could offer those who are willing to give a referral. Perhaps a gift, a free month of your service, or a discount?
Creating a special package implies that you consider them to be highly regarded, select clients. If you don’t have a company culture in giving free services or gifts, you could consider making a charitable donation in the name of the referee.
Theta is a saying that you; ‘get what you give’ – so be prepared to flip the compliment by providing a referral to them if it’s appropriate.
Remember too at GSR2R we offer a generous referral scheme where our candidates can help their colleagues and friends in their recruitment career while getting rewarded also.
Nail Your Sales Plan
It’s all very well having the referrals – so now what do you so with them? Don’t let them hang around, make sure you have a plan in place to convert these leads into new business and fast too.
Permission to Say No
It’s imperative that your clients are giving a referral because they want to, not because they feel cornered into having to provide one.
It’s possible that a client will not want to provide a referral. It may be that they’ve had a previous poor experience, or they just may not be comfortable with the idea. If so, respect their preference. If you continue to offer them a fantastic service, they may well decide to refer you in the future.
Show Your Appreciation
Happy customers will be glad to help you grow your business. A phone call, email or (best of all) a handwritten letter is acknowledging the referral and thanking them is a great way to show your appreciation.
Until next time