You’ve undoubtedly heard of the five emotional drivers of sales, or one of the variations on the theme. Legendary copywriter Herschell Gordon Lewis’s list included fear, greed, exclusivity, guilt, and need for approval. Referrals actually check two of the boxes.
When you position yourself as a referral-based business, that conveys a valuable message to prospective clients. For example, one of the most successful doctors I know only takes new patients who are referred by existing patients. Without saying it directly, he’s conveying that there’s so much demand for his services that he won’t take on just anyone. He can be choosy, and he knows that his existing patients will be judicious about who they refer, lest they jeopardize their own relationship.
In our case as freelancers, referrals also provide pricing leverage during any negotiations, since the potential client knows—again, without needing to say it directly—that a project needs to be something that meets your high standards and they might have to be patient about getting into your queue. Interestingly enough, that illusive quality can also increase the prospect’s desire to work with you: It’s human nature to want what you can’t have.
The second applicable motivating factor is need for approval. In a service business, it’s not quite the same as someone running out to get the newest Tesla or iPhone, but the principle is similar. When a referrer tells a colleague “Hey, I’ve got the perfect (writer/editor/designer/etc.) for you,” the likelihood is that they’re at least going to contact you—because they know the referrer will eventually ask if they ever acted on the recommendation.
Once you position yourself as a freelancer who’s successful through word of mouth, that’s how your network will start to think about you—and that’s how they’ll talk to others in their network. And of course, just because you market yourself as referral based doesn’t mean you can’t take on business that isn’t referred.
Join NAIWE for Referrals Training
Registration and details: “Revving Up Your Referrals”
Date: January 26, 2022
Time: 2:00 pm Eastern