Must Have Referral Strategies for 2024

Each year can be a little bit different than the year prior, which means you need to be able to shift the different referral strategies you deploy or add new ones as each new year begins. Let’s talk about the 2024 must-have referral strategies.

These are the three strategies that will help you refine or level up your referral generating game. Some simple, some not so much.

Here are the 3 Must Have Referral strategies plus one bonus (because we could all use the reminder).

Must Have Strategy #1: Communicate changes within your business

Must Have Strategy #2: Cultivate new people to refer you

Must Have Strategy #3: Write a thank you note when referred

Bonus Strategy: Track your referrals

Let’s dive into all four referral strategies so you understand how to apply them.

Must Have Strategy #1: Communicate changes within your business

If you’re one of the many businesses that are making significant changes to your business this year, you need to be able to communicate that to your existing referral sources, specifically if it changes who they would refer to you. 

Types of changes to consider:

  • Shifting your model 
  • Adjusting your ideal client
  • Raising your rates
  • Offering a different or new service or offer  

When shifting your business model, it may be how you work with your clients. 

When adjusting your ideal client, you may be shifting from who you work with now to a different type of client or keeping who you have and expanding into a different industry to serve.

When raising your rates, it would be because you are significantly raising your hourly rate or the overall cost for your service.

When you’re up-leveling and expanding your focus area and start offering a new service or a new way to work with you.  

Why do any of these changes matter? 

Any of these significant changes can impact who is referred to you, which means it impacts who is doing that referring. 

Think about it, if you are changing your ideal client, your referral sources who refer clients to you needs to know or they’re just going to keep referring who you’re no longer wanting to work with.  

These are ultimate changes to your business and could ultimately impact who your referral sources think of in terms who they should be sending to you and should they still be referring to you. You need to know how to  communicate these changes to your referral sources. 

Examples of Changes

You’re an interior designer who focuses on renovations but you want to specialize in luxury kitchens and baths. If I was the referral source, that is a different type of person that I would refer to you. 

You’re a consultant, and you’re raising your hourly rate to $400. But as your referral source I’m used to your rate being $250 a hour and sometimes people ask me what you charge when I talk about referring you to them.  

In my business I shifted my main offer from 1:1 productivity and business coaching to online programs teaching individual referral strategies and then eventually to a coaching program and VIP offer about building a referable business. You can hear more about my journey in the podcast episode that accompanies this article at Episode #295.

Just as you would communicate changes in your service offerings or rates or shifts in your business to your existing clients, we also have to think about how we communicate those changes to our referral sources. This is so they can continue to refer ideal clients.  Keep in mind, you don’t need to communicate tiny change or small shifts in your business, just the big ones. 

But here’s a word of caution, when sharing your business shifts and changes, it isn’t a lecture or “training” your referral sources but a conversation. 

Must Have Strategy #2: Cultivate new people to refer you

I believe knowing how to cultivate new people to refer to you is a tactic you need every year, even if you keep it going on a smaller scale in the background.

It is empowering to know how to cultivate new people to refer to you.

This year in particular, as people are shifting themselves and we have different things happening in our economic and political environments, there is a chance that people who have been referring to you will stop coming across your ideal client and be unable to refer or at least refer you less. 

To be able to identify that you need new people referring you is important, even if you just need a few more referral sources. 

I have a client that I’m working with and their first year goal is 40 referrals. We first looked at how many existing referral sources they have which is 20 people.  From those 20 existing referral sources, we’re aiming for 30 referrals and that’s stretching it. In addition to those 20 people, they’ll also need to cultivate at least 10 new people to refer them. 

Almost every time I work with someone, one of their first strategies they implement is cultivating new people to refer them and you have to know how to do that. 

Why?  Because referral sources are never static. Just because someone is referring you today, doesn’t mean they will be on your list for the next decade. That’s now how it works. People may only refer for a season. They may move away, change jobs, and then they’re not coming across your ideal client anymore.

Somebody may refer to you for a number of years, but when you change your business model… all of a sudden, they’re just not able or capable to refer your new ideal client.  If you raise your rates and the circles they operate in don’t include people who can afford your new rates, they won’t be able to refer. Referral sources come and go so your ability to know how to add new people to the referral source list is important.

You need to know the process of how you cultivate someone who’s never referred you, maybe even never considered referring you, and have them put their reputation on the line and send you a referral. And you need to know how to do this without asking for the referrals so you don’t damage the relationship or shortchange future, long-term referrals. 

You need to identify, cultivate, and follow up correctly and consistently with the right language. 

Must Have Strategy #3: Write a thank you note for each referral received

I feel very compelled to include this simple tactic because many people still aren’t doing it consistently.

It’s simple.  

Write a thank you note when someone sends you a referral. 

Really, there shouldn’t be much more I should have to say on this, but I know I do. 

I know most people have the best of intentions but don’t actually get around to writing them.  It doesn’t make anyone a bad person.  But it is negatively impacting future referrals. 

Why is this so critical? 

Consider this, why should I send you more referrals if you can’t thank me for the one I just sent to you? 

[And a hush fell over the crowd. ]

Your referral sources are having this subtle subconscious thought even only for a moment and unfortunately, some are dwelling on it. 

The thank you note is as powerful as it is simple when it comes to encouraging people to continue to refer you.

Please, when you receive a referral, take three minutes to write a thank you note, put it in an envelope, put their address on it, add your stamp + return address and get it in your mailbox.  

Here are some questions I get asked about the thank you note. 

  • What should it say? 
  • What kind of card can it be? 
  • Should it be handwritten or not? (yes, it should.) 

All the questions that come up when I start telling people to handwrite thank you notes in waiting for you in one simple and relatively short episode on my Roadmap to Referral podcast, episode #052.

This might be one of the simplest strategies you need to have for this year, so let’s not over-complicate it.  Commit to writing your thank you notes every time you get a referral. 

(By the way, every time you sit down to write a thank you note for a referral received, just remember one thing. You could be getting more referrals if you also had a strategy to take care of your existing referral sources after they referred you. You just got to put in the work to learn how it works.) 

Bonus Strategy: Start tracking your referrals

Here’s one more must-have referral strategy for 2024. Track, track, track, track all day long, track your metrics. Please track. I know it’s not sexy. Data isn’t sexy. Tracking isn’t sexy. But what it tells you about your business is so good. 

Here is what I want you to start tracking:

  • the date a referred prospect is received
  • the prospect’s name
  • the referrals source’s name who referred the prospect
  • the outcome (did they become a client?)
  • the revenue or commission earned from that client 

These are really important things to track because they inform so much more about what we want to do moving forward. 

To make it easy, you can download my referral tracker for free.

Final Thoughts  

Keep in mind, there isn’t one magical strategy that will deliver all of the referrals you could ever want. Building a referable business and being able to double, triple or quadruple your referrals starts with knowing where you are, what outcomes you want and then to implement the strategies you need one-by-one.

This article focused on the time-tested tactics that work and being able to recognize plus acknowledge the shift you need to communicate to your referral sources. Each year, I assess how the year is unfolding and based on conversations with my clients and those in my network, I listen for clues that could inform strategies that you should move to the front of the line with the start of the new year.

Now you are armed with the must have referral strategies for this year.  Which means it’s time to get to work. 

If you want to know how these strategies differ for the strategies I marked as “must haves” in 2023, check out episode #238


Want to learn all of these must have referral strategies, plus how they work with the other strategies (there are 19 total) and in which order to put them into place?  Then learn how to work with me inside my Building a Referable Business™ coaching program.  Check out the program and apply to see if you’re a fit.

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