Referrals for your small business are great, but evangelists are even better. While many people think religion when you mention evangelists there are other definitions. The Merriam-Webster definition of an evangelist as it pertains to your business is "an enthusiastic advocate." If you are able to turn a referral source into an evangelist for your business they might become your best salesperson. Turning customers and your business networking into evangelists would be great, but just how do you do that?
The first step of gaining evangelists for your small business is to build a strong network around yourself and your business. Your customers and contacts are not going to start referring you prospects until you have proven yourself and they trust you. You need to stay consistent with your networking until you are getting regular referrals. Once you are receiving referrals you are set up to turn some of those sources into evangelists for your business.
Service the Heck Out of Everyone
In order to gain evangelists for your business your product or service needs to be exceptional. You need to be sure that your service is top-notch with all clients and prospects. When you consistently provide excellent service to your customers and those that are referred to you, your business will get noticed.
Keep in Touch
When you are getting referrals from various sources it is important to keep track of things. You want to measure who is referring you leads, how often, the quality of the referral (also known as lead scoring), and what your close rate is. When you notice trends and high close rates from specific sources you may have an evangelist for your business and you need to nurture that relationship.
Follow up on Opportunities
If you want to convert referral sources to evangelists you need to follow up. Following up is such a critical aspect of your business. It really bugs me when I reach out to someone with a potential opportunity and it takes them weeks to respond. When we get referrals we reach out as soon as possible. We are also sure to follow up with the referral source, no matter if we closed the deal or not. You want to let your referral partners know if they made a good or bad referral and why. You also definitely want to thank them for the referral. When you follow up in this manner it shows you are responsive and appreciative and they are more likely to become an evangelist.
Expect the Unexpected
You need to expect opportunities that you could not have anticipated in your wildest dreams. You can't walk up to a referral source no matter how well you know them and ask them to be an evangelist; you need to earn that. Huge opportunities will come your way at some point and you most likely have an evangelist for your business. They may inform you that they are starting a new service concept and want you to be a part of the service. They may love your service so much that they want to offer it as a package to their entire portfolio of clients. You never know when you are going to meet an evangelist for your business so you always have to be expecting it.
You won't randomly find evangelists for your business you need to earn them. You need to create solid contacts to build your network, offer an outstanding service, and look for opportunities. Earning evangelists for your business can bring things to a whole new level.
What suggestions do you have for finding evangelists for your business?
Photo Credit © Dollar Photo Club / Rui Vale de Sousa