The Best Way to Grow Your Business in 2024: Getting Referrals

best way to grow your business

The Best Way to Grow Your Business

We all know that word of mouth is the best way to grow a business. When you receive a referral you will have little or no competition, you will be able to command a higher price, and your referral source will have done much of the selling for you.

Getting Referrals for Your Business

The best way to grow your business is, to begin with, people that you already know. People do business with those whom they know, like and trust. This will include people you have worked with in the past, friends, family and your current customers. On average, each one of us knows about 250 people. Among the people that you know are people who will refer business to you if you will only ask!

Consider these facts: 20% of the people that you know will give you referrals without you having to ask. 20% of the people that you know will never give you a referral no matter how many times you ask. However, 60% of the people will give you a referral if you ask in the right way.

Here’s the way to ask: “Who do you know who could benefit from my services?”

Below are some keys to getting referrals:

Develop your big list of people who can refer others to your business.

The best way to grow your business is to write down every adult that you know on a list. Use the list of professions below to give you a reminder as you develop your list.

Develop your small list.

Prioritize your big list, and select 20 people that you want to focus on building deeper relationships with. The best sources of referrals are people that know, like and trust you. Select people who are centers of influence in your community. Develop a list and deepen relationships with them. Choose people that you will serve. The question is not “what can I get, but rather what can I give?” You will serve them by giving referrals, remembering important events like birthdays and anniversaries,  sending books, thoughtful articles, etc.

Strategies to Deepen Business Relationships

  • When you identify someone who could be a great referral source, meet with them one-on-one to deepen the relationship.
  • At that point, keep asking questions and listen 2/3 of the time and talk about the benefits of your service or product 1/3 of the time.
  • Ask “feel-good” questions. Be a good interviewer. Stay focused on them rather than talking about yourself.
  • Listen well, affirm them and get their business card.
  • Ask: “If I were to meet an ideal client for you, how would I recognize them?”
  • Connect them with other people that are a good fit for them.
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn. Before you do that, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is updated and features the benefits your service or product provides.
  • Follow up with a thank-you note. Say that you will try to make referrals to them.

Begin speaking to everyone who is within 3 feet of you.

Follow the interviewing tips above to begin to develop the relationship.

Ask for referrals from everyone you meet

Especially from your small list. Educate your small list of your services and deepen your relationships with them.

Know that you will not likely get a referral the first time you ask.

You must be consistent and persistent to get referrals. Also, realize that getting to the first referral is the key with many people. It’s like priming a pump. Once you get the first referral, future referrals are likely to flow.

Educate everyone about what you do.

Don’t simply give a generic “commercial.” Use stories of working with clients to illustrate different aspects of your services.

Be generous in giving referrals.

Give generously and you will likely find other givers.

For business owners, learning the art of getting referrals may be the most important skill you can possess. Develop that skill and you will prosper!

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Importance of Business Networking

Business Networking

Do you feel awkward or afraid when going to business networking events? You are not alone!  Many people avoid networking events and many others make big mistakes while networking. Simply showing up at a networking event with your business cards is not enough! Successful business networking requires planning and strategy.

Business Networking

Importance of Business Networking

Networking is important and networking works! According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through business networking. As a business owner, you want to constantly grow your network of contacts.

How Have You Been Impacted by Meeting Other People?

Think about some ways that meeting other people has impacted your life. The position you now hold likely happened because you met someone somewhere. How did you meet your spouse, your friends, and your work associates? In many cases, you were introduced or you met them somewhere. Many of us have gotten something free such as tickets to an event through networking. Don’t miss out on this great way to grow your business!

Here are some tips to make your business networking effective:

Go with the networking plan to serve others.

The best way to set yourself at ease during networking is to focus on other people. Go with the mindset that you are there to give. Listen well! Think about ways you can help them: people that you can introduce them to, resources and tools that could benefit them. Make them happy that they met you!

Have a goal with your networking events.

You are attending events to make contacts that will be mutually beneficial. Decide in advance how many people you want to meet. If possible, decide in advance who you want to meet. Arrive early and view the attendee name tags and the companies they work for. Arriving early is also important to start the event in the right manner. You can position yourself to meet attendees as they arrive.

Don’t get into cliques while networking.

Remember your goals for the event. If you get into a circle of people you already know, you will limit your ability to meet new people. Spend a few minutes with everyone you meet, but move on. You can say, “excuse me, I need to freshen up my drink.”

If you are anxious while networking, go with a friend.

This is a good way to get your feet wet. You can talk with your friend during the gaps between meeting new people. As you get more comfortable you and your friend can split up.

Get introduced at networking events.

Another advantage of arriving early is to ask the host to introduce you to some of the guests. Or if you see an acquaintance talking with someone you want to meet, approach them and ask your acquaintance for an introduction.

Take your business cards and a pen to networking events.

However, don’t offer your card too quickly. If you meet someone that would be a good contact for you, ask for their card. Once you have ended your conversation, write down key information about your new acquaintance. This will help you later to remember details about them and will aid you as you begin your next conversation. Of course, when people ask for your card, be ready to provide one. Don’t give them more than one card unless they ask for it.

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Be a good interviewer while networking.

For a great example, watch how newscasters interview people. Listen twice as much as you talk. Keep good eye contact while they are speaking; don’t look around the room while they are talking. Nod your head, smile and laugh where appropriate. Interject short responses from time to time to relate to your acquaintance. Make affirming comments and sincere compliments. Most people will ask what you do, but if they don’t, feel free to briefly tell them about what you do.

Have a thirty-second commercial while networking.

Be ready to briefly describe what you do. Talk about the benefits (how you impact your client’s life) of your product or service rather than the features (what you do). Know what makes you unique and better than your competition.

Be ready to describe your ideal client while networking.

Know how to describe your prospects in terms of demographics. For example, “My clients are young married couples who live in working class neighborhoods in Greenville SC.”

Look for “Networking Orphans.”

At just about every event there will be someone who is new, uncomfortable and anxious. They may be standing awkwardly against the wall looking out of place. Find them and become their friend. Introduce them to others. They will be very thankful that you rescued them.

The most important thing…follow up after networking!

If you don’t follow up with your new acquaintances, you have just wasted your time at the event. Be unique in your approach. Send a card, or make a phone call thanking them for meeting with you. If appropriate, invite them for coffee or lunch to deepen the relationship.


Remember that people do business with those they know, like and trust. Business networking works! Serve your business contacts well and you will be on the road to great clients and referrals!

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Generating an Unlimited Amount of Leads for Your Business

leads for your business

Unlimited Amount of Leads for Your Business

Do you know where your leads for your business come from?

  • Most business owners would choose “advertising” as an answer. Or word of mouth. Or referrals. Or direct mail campaigns. This may seem true, but it’s not really accurate.
  • Your customers come from leads that have been turned into sales. Each customer goes through a two-step process before they arrive with their wallets open. They have been converted from a member of a target market, to a lead, then to a customer.
  • So, would it not stand to reason then, that when you advertise or send any marketing material out to your target market, that you’re not really trying to generate customers? That instead, you’re trying to generate leads.
  • When you look at your marketing campaign from this perspective, the idea of generating leads as compared to customers seems a lot less daunting. The pressure of closing sales is no longer placed on advertisements or brochures.
  • From this perspective, the general purpose of your advertising and marketing efforts is then to generate leads from qualified customers. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?

leads for your business

 Where Are Your Leads Coming From?

 If I asked you to tell me the top three ways you generate new sales leads, what would you say?
    • Advertising?
    • Word of mouth?
    • Networking?
    • …don’t know?

The first step toward increasing leads of your business is in understanding how many leads you currently get on a regular basis, as well as where they come from. Otherwise, how will you know when you’re getting more phone calls or walk-in customers?

I find that most of my clients are not measuring their leads when we begin coaching. So that’s one of the first things we begin doing.

If you don’t know where your leads come from, start today! Start asking every customer that comes through your door, “how did you hear about us?” or “what brought you in today?” Ask every customer that calls where they found your telephone number, or email address. Then, record the information for at least an entire week.

When you’re finished, take a look at your spreadsheet and write your top three lead generators here:

1 .__________________________________

2. ___________________________________

3. __________________________________

From Lead to Customer: Conversion Rates

Leads mean nothing to your business unless you convert them into customers. You could get hundreds of leads for your business from a single advertisement, but unless those leads result in purchases, it’s been a largely unsuccessful (and costly) campaign.

The ratio of leads (potential customers) to transactions (actual customers) is called your conversion rate. Simply divide the number of customers who actually purchased something by the number of customers who inquired about your product or service, and multiply by 100.
# transactions / # leads x 100 = % conversion rate

If, in a given week, I have 879 customers come into my store, and 143 of them purchase something, the formula would look like this:

[143 (customers) / 879 (leads)] x 100 = 16.25% conversion rate

What’s Your Conversion Rate?

Based on the formula above, you can see that the higher your conversion rate, the more profitable the business.

Your next step is to determine you own current conversion rate. Add up the number of leads you sourced in the last section, and divide that number into the total transactions that took place in the same week.

leads for your business

Write your conversion rate here:

Quality (or Qualified) Leads

Based on our review of conversion rates, we can see that the number of leads you generate means nothing unless those leads are being converted into customers.

So what affects your ability (and the ability of your team) to turn leads into customers? Do you need to improve your scripts? Your product or service? Find a more competitive edge in the marketplace?

Maybe. But the first step toward increasing conversion rates is to evaluate the leads you are currently generating, and make sure those leads are the right ones.

What are Quality Leads?

Potential customers are potential customers, right? Anyone who walks into your store or picks up the phone to call your business could be convinced to purchase from you, right? Not necessarily, but this is a common assumption most business owners make.

Quality leads are the people who are the most likely to buy your product or service. They are the qualified buyers who comprise your target market. Anyone might walk in off the street to browse a furniture store – regardless of whether or not they are in the market for a new couch or bed frame. This lead is solely interested in browsing, and is not likely to be converted to a customer.

A quality lead would be someone looking for a new kitchen table, and who specifically drove to that same furniture because a friend had raved about the service they received that month. These are the kinds of leads you need to focus on generating.

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How Do You Get Quality Leads?

Know your target market. Get a handle on who your customers are – the people who are most likely to buy your product or service. Know their age, sex, income, and purchase motivations. From that information you can determine how best to reach your specific audience.

Focus on the 80/20 rule. A common statistic in business is that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. These are your star clients, or your ideal clients. These are the clients you should focus your efforts on recruiting. This is the easiest way to grow your business and your income.

Get specific. Focus not only on who you want to attract, but how you’re going to attract them. If you’re trying to generate leads from a specific market segment, craft a unique offer to get their attention.

Be proactive. Once you’ve generated a slew of leads, make sure you have the resources to follow up on them. Be diligent and aggressive, and follow up in a timely manner. You’ve worked to get them, now reel them in.

Go here to read Part 2 of this article.

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Generating an Unlimited Amount of Leads for Your Business Part 2

Generating Leads for Your Business
Continued from Part 1

Get More Leads from Your Existing Strategies.

Generating Leads for Your Business doesn’t necessarily mean diving in and implementing an expensive array of new marketing strategies. Marketing and customer outreach for the purpose of lead generation can be inexpensive, and bring a high return on investment.

You are likely already implementing many of these strategies. With a little tweaking or refinement, you can easily double your leads, and ensure they are more qualified.

Here are some popular ways to generate quality leads:

Identify your ideal customers

Who are your ideal customers? What is their age, sex, income, location and purchase motivation? Where do they live? How do they spend their money? Be as specific as possible.

Once you have identified who your ideal customers are, you can begin to determine how you can go about reaching them. Will you mail to households or apartment buildings? Families or retirees? Direct mail lists are available for purchase from a wide range of companies and can be segregated into a variety of demographic and sociographic categories.

Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine recommends that you should develop a “Dream 100” list of your ideal clients. These would be your most profitable clients who are a great fit for your business. Not only is your advertising cheaper with only 100 clients to pursue, but you are also able to focus on fewer prospects more until you win them as clients.

Direct Mail to Your Ideal Customers

Direct mail is now back in favor. It is one of the fastest and most effective ways to generate leads that will build your business. It’s a simple strategy – in fact, you’re probably already reaching out to potential clients through direct mail letters with enticing offers.

The secret to doubling your results is to craft your direct mail campaigns specifically for a highly targeted audience of your ideal customers.

Your ideal customers are the people who will buy most of your products or services. They are the customers who will buy from you over and over again and refer your business to their friends. They are a group of 20% of your clients who make up 80% of your revenue.


Generating Leads for Your Business

Craft a special offer to Your Ideal Customers

Create an offer that’s too good to refuse – not for your entire target market, but for your ideal customer. How can you cater to their unique needs and wants? What will be irresistible for them?

For example, if you operate a furniture store, your target market is a broad range of people. However, if you are targeting young families, your offer will be much different than the one you may craft for empty-nesters.

Court Ideal Customers for Their Business

Get business. Don’t stop at a single mail-out. Sometimes people will throw your letter away two or three times before they are motivated to act. Treat your direct mail campaign like a courtship, and understand that it will happen over time.

First send a letter introducing yourself, and your irresistible offer. Then follow up on a monthly basis with additional letters, newsletters, offers, or flyers. Repetition and reinforcement of your presence are how your customer will go from saying, “who is this company” to “I buy from this company.”

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Advertise for Lead Generation

Statistics show that nearly 50% of all purchase decisions are motivated by advertising. It can also be a relatively cost-effective way of generating leads.

We’ve already discussed the importance of ensuring your advertisements are purpose-focused. The general purpose of most advertisements is to increase sales – which starts with leads. However, ads that are created solely for lead generation – that is, to get the customers to pick up the phone or walk in the store – are a category of their own.

Lead Generation Ads: An Almost Unbelievable Offer

Lead generation ads are simply designed and create a sense of curiosity or mystery. Often, they feature an almost unbelievable offer. Their purpose is not to convince the customer to buy but to contact the business for more information.

As always, when you are targeting your ideal audience, you’ll need to ensure that your ads are placed prominently in publications that your audience reads. This doesn’t mean you have to fork over the cash for expensive display ads. Inexpensive advertising in e-mail newsletters, classifieds, and the yellow pages are very effective for lead generation.

Here are some tips for lead generation advertising:

Leverage Low-cost Advertising

Place ads in the yellow pages, classifieds section, e-mail newsletters, and online. If your target audience is technology savvy, consider new forms of advertising like Facebook and Google Adwords.


Generating Leads for Your Business

Spark curiosity

Don’t give them all the information they need to make a decision. Ask them to contact you for the full story, or the complete details of the seemingly outrageous offer.

Grab them with a killer headline

Like all advertising, a compelling headline is essential. Focus on the greatest benefits to the customer, or feature an unbelievable offer.

Referrals and Strategic Partners

A referral system is one of the most profitable systems you can create in your business. The beauty is once it’s set up, it often runs itself.

Customers that come to you through referrals are often your “ideal customers.” They are already trusting and willing to buy. This is one of the most cost-effective methods of generating new business and is often the most profitable. These referral clients will buy more, faster, and refer further business to your company.

Referrals naturally happen without much effort for reputable businesses, but with a proactive referral strategy, you’ll certainly double or triple your referrals. Sometimes, you just need to ask!

Here are some easy strategies you can begin to implement today:

Referral incentives

Give your customers a reason to refer business to you. Reward them with discounts, gifts, or a free service in exchange for a successful referral.

Referral program

Offer new customers a free product or service to get them in the door. Then, at the end of the transaction, give them three more ‘coupons’ for the same free product or service that they can give to their friends. Do the same with their friends. This ongoing program will bring you more business than you can imagine.

Strategic Partner Relationships

Forge alliances with non-competitive companies who target your ideal customers. Create cross-promotion and cross-referral direct mail campaigns that benefit both businesses.

Lead Management Systems

Once your lead generation strategies are in place, you’ll also need a system to manage incoming inquiries. You’ll need to ensure you receive enough information from each lead to follow up on at a later date. You’ll also need to create a system to organize that information, and track the lead as it is converted into a sale.

Gathering Information from Your Leads

Here is a list of information you should gather from your leads. This list can be customized to the needs of your business, and the type of information you can realistically request from your potential customers.

• Company Name
• Name of Contact
• Alternate Contact Person
• Mailing Address
• Phone Number
• Fax Number
• Cell Phone
• Email Address
• Website Address
• Product of Interest
• Other Competitors Engaged

Generating Leads for Your Business

Lead Management Methods:

Once you have gathered information from your lead, you’ll need a system to organize their information and keep a detailed contact history.

The simplest way to do this is with a database program, but you can also use a variety of hard copy methods.

Electronic Database Programs

  • High level of organization available
  • Unlimited space for notes and record-keeping
  • Data-entry required
  • Examples include: Microsoft® Outlook and Excel, Maximizer
  • Customer Relationship Management Software

Customer Relationship Management Systems

There are a ton of CRM’s available for you to manage your leads. These range from free for Hubspot to a few hundred dollars for Sales Force.

  • Hubspot
  • Sales Force
  • Pipedrive
  • Zoho

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