5 Steps to Gaining Referral Business by Carolyn Edlund

5 Steps to Gaining Referral Business

by Carolyn Edlund

Referrals from existing customers are just about the best prospects you can get, and many artists grow their business mainly through being referred. Here’s how to get started. 


When you really think about it, you may realize that many of your current collectors and customers would be happy to recommend you and your work. And if you sell to a niche market, your customers are likely to know others who have the same interests, and could be potential clients as well.

How do you get referrals from your customer base? Ask for them. You may be pleasantly surprised at the very positive reaction you receive. After all, the worst they can say is “no.”

Make a regular practice of requesting referrals from your customers, using these 5 steps:

1.  In your brochure, and on your website, make a point to state that referrals are an important part of your business.

2.  In your email newsletters, mention that referrals are a mainstay of your business. You may want to start a “referral program,” and include a coupon offering a discount to anyone who refers a new customer. Some business people offer gift cards or other merchandise to existing clients who refer others who become customers.

3.  After shipping or completing a commission for a customer, follow up with a personal handwritten note or phone call. Let them know how much you appreciate their business. Ask if they know of anyone else who may be interested in your work, and for that person’s contact information. Assure them that you handle referrals in a low-key manner with no sales pressure, so that they feel more comfortable giving them – and if the referral isn’t interested, you will not contact them again.

4.  Practice asking for referrals, so that when you are requesting one in person, you’re ready to speak clearly and confidently. When you have thought through your language ahead of time, it will be easier to make the request.

5.  Give referrals. This is a great way to work with others who are in a position to send ongoing referral business. Make a point to send referral clients to them as well. This type of cooperative referral is called a strategic alliance.


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