Marketing your organization has many interconnected components. In this marketing mix, we sometimes forget about one of the most powerful channels: existing clients.

Recommendations, referrals, and introductions from the clients you currently serve can significantly impact your circles of influence. Because referred prospects are typically in the same social or financial groups as your existing clients, the practice of gaining introductions can elevate your access to your ideal client. It may also shorten the lead vetting process, as those making the referral are familiar with your areas of expertise and services.

Have you incorporated a referral process into your marketing strategy? How do you use your client capital to gain access to desirable prospects?

Cold calling may result in a few sales leads, but it is a time-intensive process and can be less effective than asking current clients to supply names of or even make introductions to the kind of people you want to attract. In order to boost the number of prospects you put into the marketing pipeline, create a standard referral process that you and your employees can follow when asking to be introduced to ideal clients.

At The Covenant Group, we encourage entrepreneurs to not only guide clients through the referral process, but also request personal introductions. Referrals can sometimes be passive. The way you deliver service will impact your ability to secure personal introductions, rather than referrals of names to add to a cold-calling list. When a client actually introduces you to an acquaintance or business associate, whether by email, letter or in person, it is further affirmation of that person’s trust in your abilities, and can assist in closing the sales cycle with a new prospect.

In client meetings, discuss how they feel about your services. Ask them to affirm their confidence in you and describe the value that they see in the relationship. Then outline your ideal client profile (this helps the person you are talking to think about high-quality prospects) and ask him or her a few questions to jog memory of people who may fit this profile. As they start to think of potential referrals, you can ask for an introduction. Arrange a meeting that will make it easy for the client to introduce you. Afterward, be sure to thank the client and keep him or her up-to-date about how the meeting and new relationship progresses.