Does Face-to-Face Time Really Fuel Referrals?

Virtual meetings are efficient, but if there is one thing that can help any professional fuel referrals it is face-to-face time with clients and influencers.

Actual getting-together-with those other humans more often tends to lead to better or deeper relationships, and more opportunities to be positioned for referrals and recommendations.  And more meetings mean more opportunities to ask for referrals bluntly if you are that way inclined, right?

Instinctively we all know this of course and it is fine in theory, but the question that arises after a prolonged period of not having lots of face-to-face time with clients for many advisers is: are all the face-to-face meetings worth that extra effort and time?

There is a plethora of research which suggests that even with all the wonderful methods we have today for building our brands, and personal profiles, and finding and connecting with prospective clients, referral (or word of mouth) business remains the best business.  For example:

73% of executives prefer to work with sales professionals referred by someone they know. Source: IDC

Referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value. Source: Journal of Marketing

A referred customer is 18% more loyal than a customer acquired through a different method. Source: Journal of Marketing

84% of B2B decision-makers start their purchase with a referral. Source: Edelman Trust Barometer

B2B buyers are 5X more likely to engage when introduced. Source: LinkedIn

Referral leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channelsSource: R&G Technologies

Salespeople who actively seek out and exploit referrals earn 4 to 5 times more than those who don’t. Source: @TopSalesWorld

Word-of-mouth remains the winner when it comes to finding and gaining new clients and building a professional practice.

Additional research has shown that those who see their clients face-to-face more often in a year bring in substantially more new clients by way of referral.  WAY more…at the extremes, those who see clients face-to-face 5 or more times per year are generating up to 10 x the referral numbers as those who only see clients 1 or 2 times per year.  That seems a worthwhile investment of time doesn’t it?

Of course there will be far more smart thinking going on behind those sorts of results than merely getting out in front of clients and influencers more often.  Good communications processes, delivering ongoing relevant information and advice, running events and expressing gratitude….all will be significant contributors to those with higher rates of referral-generation success.

However, one shouldn’t lose sight of the significance of getting in front of those potential referrers more often, and being more proactive about positioning for and expecting introductions and recommendations.  Regular face-to-face time has been proven to fuel more referral business, and that makes it a very good investment of a professionals time.

So my tip for the new year is a simple one: get back out there and spend time with your people.

Related: WHERE Do You Add Value?