My Lens for Growth in 2024
Referrals are critical to business success
I started 2024 as the new CEO of a company. I want to change and improve many things in the company, including engineering, sales, marketing, account management, etc.
How should I prioritize what to focus on?
Here is the lens I am using for 2024 to dramatically grow my business and why it is probably the right strategy for you.
The Referral Litmus Test
Would your customers refer you to someone else?
If the answer is no, you must figure out why as quickly as possible. Your company is doomed. Referrals are usually the lifeblood of a company and something you should be focused on.
Here are some key stats about referrals:
82% of small businesses claim referrals as their main source of new business
52.2% of US small businesses say that referrals are the most successful marketing tool for them.
A referred customer is 18% more loyal than a customer acquired by other means.
The stats go on and on.
My friend owns a roofing business that does $5,000,000+ in annual revenue, and 100% of it comes from referrals. He does $0 in advertising.
So here is the $5,000,000 question:
Why aren’t your customers giving you more referrals?
How can you improve your customer’s experience to get more referrals?
That is my lens for growth in 2024.
I am focused on doing everything possible to make my customers so happy that they are actively looking for someone to tell how amazing we are.
It's the same feeling you get when you buy a new gadget and you have to tell everyone you know about it.
How do we create that feeling? How do we at least try?
We All Want Someone We Can Trust
If you need to hire a plumber, what do you do?
You ask friends and family who they recommend.
It isn’t because you aren’t capable of Googling it and randomly picking someone. Randomly picking someone is easy and scary. Reading through countless reviews and then randomly picking one is not much better.
You want someone you can trust.
My company provides software development services. At least 10,000 other companies also do, and you probably get spam from them daily.
Why would anyone buy from us over the other 9,999?
Because they trust us.
But how can someone trust us who has never heard of us before?
From a trusted referral.
There are many products and services, mine included, that are almost impossible to sell without a referral.
You have to design your business around referrals.
That starts with having a superior product or service that they are raving fans of.
10 Ways to Increase Referrals
Things that help with referrals are generally the fundamentals, and they vary from company to company. Sadly, many companies also struggle with the fundamentals.
Here are some basic things most SaaS companies should focus on.
1. Optimizing for the “Aha Moment”
You have one opportunity to make a first impression. For SaaS companies, you might have 5 minutes to get a potential customer to see value in your product and get them to that “Aha” moment. That moment when they understand what your product does and why they would buy it. Your goal is to get them to that moment as fast as possible.
We have all been there. We have tried a product, reached this moment, and then immediately told someone else we knew who could also benefit from this same product. That is your goal.
2. Product Improvements
Sometimes, the problem is apparent. You need a better product. It is missing key features that your users are looking for. In that case, all you can do is work hard to get those delivered to your customers.
The key here is knowing who your target audience is and focusing all your energy on their needs. Avoid distractions that are keeping you from getting there.
3. Improved Customer Service and Faster!
One of the things I never forget about Rackspace is all of their ads about “fanatical support”. How good your support team is and how fast you respond to customer issues can make a huge difference. At my last company, Stackify, we wowed customers by responding to 95% of support tickets in less than one hour. That had a major impact on their perception of our company.
4. Building Real Relationships
What kind of relationship do you have with your customers? Do they like you? I’m not talking about your company. I’m talking about you.
For some companies, creating personal relationships and building true relationships with your customers is extremely valuable. This is especially true in enterprise sales, where many deals are done based on long-term relationships.
5. Be a Thought Leader
Speaking of being liked and known, being a thought leader is one of the best ways to do this. Being a thought leader automatically builds awareness and trust with potential customers.
This is one of the things I focus on and one of the reasons I write this blog, do a podcast, and post on LinkedIn daily!
6. Product Marketing
One of the most overlooked things by many business owners is product marketing. What are you doing to constantly remind your customers of how amazing your company is and all the new things you are doing? Product marketing is your opportunity to keep reminding them of how awesome you are.
7. Listen to Your Customers
Everyone wants to be heard. People want to give you product ideas, and you actually implement them. One way to have raving fans is simply by taking their feedback and actually executing it. When was the last time you gave a vendor, and they actually implemented it? Probably never. But when they did, I bet you were a big fan afterward.
8. Screw Up and Fix It
We all make mistakes. Sometimes we make big mistakes. How you handle those mistakes can make a lasting impression on people. Some of the biggest fans I have had in my career have come from customers whom we screwed up, or the relationship was bad at one point for one reason or another. When you go out of your way to fix things and make it right, you can create raving fans for life.
9. Create Win-Win Partnerships
One of the best ways to get referrals is via partnerships. The key to partnerships is they need to be win-win. For example, at Full Scale, we only provide software development services from our team in the Philippines. We don’t provide US based resources. Partnering with a company that provides fractional CTOs or software architects would be very beneficial for us. Their customers are also looking for the services we provide, but they don’t provide them. That makes it a win-win partnership.
10. Ask for Them!!!
The obvious way to get more referrals is by asking for them. I know it feels awkward. However, if your product or service is amazing, they should feel amazing about sharing it with someone else. They are doing the friends a favor. Look at it that way.
Does it feel less awkward if you give them an excellent referral bonus for doing so?
Referral or affiliate programs can be huge for certain types of companies.
Create Happy Customers
The key to getting more referrals is having happy customers. While every company's approach to this will be different, it usually comes down to the fundamentals.
At Full Scale, one of the critical things for us is to improve the quality of the talent we provide our clients. Therefore, we will be prioritizing things like training and mentoring our employees. That is also a win-win for our employees and our customers.
What are all the little things you can do to create happy customers?
That is the lens I am using to prioritize everything in 2024.