For many businesses, particularly those providing services, more than 85 per cent of business comes from personal referrals and recommendations.

Yet many businesses spend thousands of hours, and dollars, trying to acquire new customers, and relatively little time and effort nurturing and retaining their existing ones.

Valuing and retaining your current clients and customers is essential. Not only will you benefit from their continued custom directly, you are also more likely to benefit from any new clients or customers they recommend.

And given that it is six to seven times more expensive to gain one new client or customer than it is to retain one, retaining your existing clients and customers, and being highly recommendable, can have a huge positive impact on your bottom-line.

Trust and profitability

Clients and customers who already trust and respect you:

* Are more likely to acknowledge, and value, what you provide and the benefits they gain from dealing with you;

* May be more willing to accept your prices, terms and conditions without question or negotiation;

* Are often more loyal;

* Require less “selling to”; and

* Are more likely to continue doing business with you, and even increase the amount they spend, as their trust in you increases.

They are also more likely to recommend you to people they know and trust — giving you an opportunity to gain new clients while reducing your acquisition costs and improving your profitability.

Some people may be willing to provide a recommendation or testimonial without giving it much thought. But, and it’s a big but ... most people will only recommend you when they are confident you will be able to deliver on your promises, as it is not your reputation they are putting on the line when recommending you. It’s theirs.

Get recommended

So how can you improve your chances of being recommended more often and acquire low-cost / high-value clients who are positively pre-disposed to dealing with you?

Adding value to your existing clients and customers on an ongoing basis is essential. Here’s how:

1. Deliver on your promises

Over-promising and under-delivering is one of the biggest reputation damagers. It may be tempting to over-state your experience, capabilities and past achievements, but make sure you take the time to clarify understanding and expectations before agreeing to something you may not be able to deliver on.

2. Be respectful

Avoid assuming people want to be treated in the same way. Many don’t. If you’re unsure about what may work for customers — ask! The very act of asking demonstrates respect, so long as you act on any information they give you.

3. Genuinely care

We can only add value and serve effectively when we fully understand what a client or customer truly needs and wants. Discover their motivations before trying to sell yourself or your products or services, and if you feel you’re not the best person to serve them, recommend someone who is! Random acts of kindness can have long-lasting, positive, effects.

4. Make regular customers feel valued and valuable 

Adding genuine, spontaneous, “no strings attached” value such as forwarding a relevant article, website, or passing on a hint or tip you have come across, for no other reason than you feel it may be helpful or useful for them, nurtures the connection you have and shows you genuinely care about them.

5. Always show Good manners

Be friendly without being overly familiar and be mindful of the fact that people will remember how they “feel” about you more than what they read about you.

6. Act with integrity and live your values

Be clear about what is important to you in terms of what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable and act accordingly. When you and your team live your values, and demonstrate them in tangible ways on a day-to-day basis, you build trust. Trust engenders confidence, which helps improve your chances of being recommended or referred to others.

One of the greatest compliments and reputation-enhancers there is, is to be highly recommendable. People who are willing to recommend you, without incentive or reward, are putting their reputation on the line for you.

Protect not only your own reputation, but that of the person recommending you, by delivering what is expected with integrity and you will find yourself more in demand than ever.