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Reference Trades = How to get new customers through your old customers

Anyone who has had a business for more than five minutes knows that the easiest way to get new customers is through existing customers with people who already know who you are.

People (such as you and I) are talking to each other about problems and we give each other advice on how best to solve them. ”How did you do with the web hosting?”, ”Who is your accountant?”, ”Would you know where I can get a hold of a good plumber?”. That's the way it works and some industries probably get 90% of their business from reference business.

Few companies take advantage of this source of success in an active way. Isn't that strange? To work actively to obtain reference transactions (as opposed to individual contacts who just happens to … well, happen) it's so effective that it may be the only thing you need to do to bring in new customers.

There are four major reasons why there is a groove for you to plow now:

1. Reference trades reduces your costs to sell. If you can spend less time chasing customers, you will have time left to take care of the old customers, product developments and maybe even sneak off to the gym a few times a week.

2. Reference trades raise the level of customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers who recommend you to their friends often know more about their friends' needs than you, so when the new customers are coming in, you are prepared because you know that they are right for your business.

3. Reference business saves time. You spend less time on each customer as they often already know about you and they are already familiar with your business and your products /services.

4. To do this job is a lot easier than going out on a traditional customer hunting.

It sounds fantastic - and it's great for any business to be so good that people would recommend them to their friends because:
• You have proven to be worthy of that recommendation.
• You must be someone that customers like, almost more like a friend than as a business.
• You must be reliable.
• You must make people see that you're always updated and eager to change and improve to make customers happy.
• You must be trustworthy.

OK, what's the key to getting such a chance?

The answer is that you must dare to ask. That may have felt like a comment from the department of the obvious, but it's true. Did you say that you don't dare, that it's embarrassing and pushy to ask existing customers about ways to reach new customers? Hmm. Why is that? Isn't your product/service good enough? Have you not done a good job for the one you're asking? Well, but there you go. The worst that can happen is that they say no.

Come on - call a customer today and ask for a reference!

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.