When your customers learn about your business from someone they trust, they are more likely to buy your products or services. That initial hesitation in wondering whether you will deliver is driven away, and that starts off the beginning of a beautiful business relationship. In the Coaching business, this is even more important. Referral marketing is perhaps the oldest and most trusted marketing strategy (Wikipedia) and as a coach, you can get referrals for your coaching business to enable successful lift-off.
There is a key step that coaching businesses should focus on, however, before putting a referral system in place. It is often overlooked but the truth is, all the referrals in the world cannot save your business if the basics are not actively applied. What are the basics? Delivering quality service.
Before asking anyone to recommend you as a coach, ask yourself whether you are offering them counsel that they can rely on. Do you have the right qualities of an effective coach? Wondering what these qualities are? Take a look at this infographic on 7 Qualities of An Effective Life Coach – which applies across the board to all coaches, consultants, speakers and trainers too.
‘Good things sell themselves’. In an increasingly globalized world, the internet has contributed to the recognition of great businesses and the fall of many a poor one. Customers and clients take to social media to praise and expose the quality of service and their experiences with many businesses. Who can forget the Java House debacle when a snail was found in one of their salads? The internet never forgets.
In the age of online referrals, your coaching business cannot slack. You can optimally use this to your business’ advantage. Be active on social media, produce great content, and ask your clients to follow, retweet or repost your content. Engage with them online as much as you do in person. This also lets them know you are heavily involved and interested in them. If you are a health coach, start a hashtag and involve your clients – it could be a fitness challenge – and ask them to share their progress online. Others will want to join in too and they will seek your services.
@ICSKenya is the twitter handle of ICS Kenya, the professional body driving customer service in Kenya. They recognize companies with good customer service and commend them on a job well done. They hosted Customer Service Week (#CSWeek2016) late last year and several companies and organizations joined in to boast about their efforts in exceeding customer expectations.
Taking this into consideration, what are the top ways to go about getting more referrals for your coaching business? We have found 6 methods that will do the trick.
How to get more referrals for your coaching business
1. Asking clients, associates or partners
Ask and it shall be given to you. This is the simplest, most straightforward way you can get more referrals for your coaching business. Just ask.
“Customer referrals are some of the most valuable sales leads…” ~ MSP Mentor
Ray Silverstein on entrepreneur.com says you should think of your business as an ‘infinite web of relationships’. Every person you serve in your coaching business in connected to many others. Those too are connected and in various interconnections also happen along the way. These connections are pathways through which news of your business can spread. It is incredibly powerful because the impact from referrals is timeless. Someone who hears about your business today will remember you and recommend you to a friend 6 months from now.
You can also ask your partners to refer anyone they know. For example, if you are an executive coach and have collaborated with an organization in some way, you can ask them to tell their employees about your services which include career coaching. Those employees, sure enough, will not go looking far for a coach should they come across some bumps in their careers and are looking for the motivation to carry on.
Want to know more about writing great emails asking for referrals? Click here.
2. Using referral programs
This is extremely effective in profitable customer acquisition. What offers can your coaching business give to your clients? Think of what you can provide and what any partners you have can provide.
Discounted offers are great. For each client, you can give a 5% discount on all or certain services for every person they refer who successfully becomes a client. Nutritionists can offer Zucchini meal vouchers or discounted prices at all Healthy Us. Personal Branding coaches may look to stores such as Manix and offer vouchers.
These offers should essentially be displayed on your website or any flyers that you give to new clients. A great way to integrate your referral program is in videos that you offer clients as a departure gift. When client sessions are over and it is time to bid farewell, a creative way is to give them goodie bags. These goodie bags will make your clients feel special and will encourage them to refer others. Include your merchandise – branded pens, notebooks, mugs, fridge magnets, flash drives – and a DVD or CD with a video of you thanking them for being wonderful clients. Include discounts and vouchers as a sort of ‘working backward’ method for getting them to refer their friends or family.
3. The BNI Method
‘Givers gain’ is their motto. It is based on the law of reciprocity. Give what you would like to get.
To read more on Business Networking International (BNI) see the Top 5 Business Networking Groups in Kenya.
Seeking more referrals for your coaching business? Then refer your clients to other coaches who run businesses related to yours, but are not your competitors. For business coaches, refer clients who have expressed problems with saving and investing… to finance coaches who you know can deliver. Where do you meet coaches and consultants in related business or industry groups? There are several groups you can join, and one of them is the Coaches and Consultants Network Facebook Group.
Such networking and support groups expose you to others in your industry, and using the BNI method of giving referrals so you can get referrals is almost fail-proof. Clients sought you out and are pleased with your services, therefore, any referral they get from you they will similarly trust 100%. This is also a great way to build lasting business relationships that contribute to the growth of your business long-term.
4. In Agreements
Including a referral clause in your coach-client agreements is another way to get more referrals for your coaching business. It may seem less organic than the other methods but as long as you are delivering great value, not many clients will mind.
Within the contract, add a section that states that the client should refer a certain number of clients if you deliver on a certain percentage of what was expected from you e.g. Should Furaha Coaching and Consulting deliver on at least 80% of tasks A, B, and C, the company will get at least 2 (two) referrals from the client, Tom Kioko.
It is impossible to talk about referrals in your coaching business without any mention of the largest professional network in the world – LinkedIn.
As a coach, you MUST have a stellar LinkedIn profile. Constantly update it, publish posts and engage with peers. LinkedIn is a platform that can help you build your credibility and that of your business. For every client you have, connect with them on LinkedIn and simply ask them to recommend you on your profile. This is a referral system disguised as recommendations.
Other professionals who visit their profiles are able to view who they have recommended. This means that when such a professional is looking for an extraordinary life coach, they will contact you first by virtue of seeing the recommendation given by someone they trust.
Similarly, think about the interweb of connections we talked about before. LinkedIn is a perfect example of how interconnections come into play. It has a feature on the right side of the page where it gives suggestions of profile one can view, under “People also viewed”. It is likely for your profile to appear here when they look for other life coaches in Kenya. When they see your profile and remember that their acquaintance gave you a recommendation, not even the bigwigs of the coaching business can beat you!
Every coach should actively be sending out weekly newsletters in order to stay connected to former and current clients. In these newsletters, you should include links or CTAs that make it easy for your clients to forward those emails to friends and family.
Clarity is essential. Make it clear that they can forward the emails and most importantly, produce great newsletters that make it easy for them to want to send them out. Be funny, be informative, be interesting. Captivate your current audience and include (read bombard them with) posts that will keep them inspired and motivated for a week straight!
This form of gaining referrals for your coaching business is as effective as it is subtle. Be consistent and you will soon reap the benefits of remaining committed to your craft and your clients.
With the aforementioned put in place, your coaching business is sure to see the number of referrals grow significantly. Keep to it and in the comments, do keep us updated on your progress! Let us know what coaching business you are in, what has worked for you, and what doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Don’t forget to join the Africa Coaches and Consultants Facebook Group either!
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