Employee referrals – 5 ways to leverage your most important asset to find new customers

If you work for any size company, often the most overlooked opportunity to get new customers are the people you see everyday:  your co-workers.  These are the people who spend 8+ hours of every working day with your organization.  People who accept the organization’s policies and beliefs, and can be the biggest cheerleaders for your brand.  But how can you ‘activate’ this group to help grow your business by finding new customers?

Here’s five ideas:

1.  Ask!

My father always used to say “ if you don’t ask you don’t get”.  Good advice, so simply ask your employees if they can help your company find leads.  When I used to run an agency in the UK, one of our lead sources invariably were new employees, who brought with them family, friend, and business connections that either directly or indirectly might lead to a new client opportunity.  All we had to do was ask.

2.  Share your content

According to recent Arbitron and Edison Research, the average person has 303 connections on Facebook.  For those aged 18-24, the average is 510 connections.  So if your small business employs 10 people who are just starting their careers, that’s upwards of 5000 possible contacts from the ‘greenies’ on the team!  So give them something to talk about on their LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter pages.  Look at what content you have or can create that they might post onwards for you.  Even consider running a competition for getting the most ‘Likes’, or doing the most re-postings of your content.  You never know – your next big client might be a childhood friend of someone working in finance.

3.  Run a promotion

Whether it’s offering a bounty for each new lead who ultimately converts or running a short term competition to see who can get the most new leads, creating a promotion can pay handsome dividends.  Make it fun and engaging.  Make sure it’s aligned with your brand values.  And make sure the rewards are things your co-workers might like, such as cash or extra days off.

4.  Keep them informed

A new service or product enhancement announcement is usually focused outward towards prospects or customers.  Often, corporations have so many moving parts to their business that they neglect to keep everyone internally in the loop on what is going on.  Keeping co-workers informed on what is happening, and encouraging them to tell their own network of connections, is an important step to getting new leads whenever you have new news.  You’re looking for the ‘I didn’t know we did that’ reaction.

5.  Create a ‘drive’

This idea really is a combination of the above.  It’s about creating an internal marketing campaign.  Set a definite start and finish date for a concerted effort to drive new customer acquisition.  Create a theme – but please, no more “Go for Growth” or “It Starts with You” on an internal poster!  Remind everyone regularly about the campaign, and the progress you’re making.  And celebrate the conclusion, so that the next time you run a new lead campaign, you’ll get even more people involved.  You’ll find the results relative to the small investment often better than external efforts.


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