Want More Referrals? Look at your client lifecycle

The Referral Engine by John Jantsch is a book that was recommended to me by one of the members of our Business Accelerator Community. Jantsch is the bestselling author of Duct Tape Marketing.

The referral Engine outlines an approach to marketing that moves away from complicated marketing campaigns (hallelujah!) and instead focuses on personal interactions with customers through social media and friend-to-friend word of mouth.

It’s a great read but if you don’t have time, I want to share the part about the ideal customer lifecycle. I’m so on the same page with it that I want to share the main points here because he explains it so perfectly.

Janstch talks about 7 stages of referral development in the customer lifecycle: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, Refer. We all hear about know like and trust all the time but he’s added a few more stages to it.

This is the initial introduction to your business. The cliché that you only get one chance to make a good first impression applies here. The best way to start a relationship is to communicate a clear brand or point of difference that is designed to attract your ideal customer or referral source. AND…it’s essential to have narrowly defined what an ideal customer looks like so you can speak directly to the customer in all your communications.

Want to know if you’re making a lasting impression on potential clients? Grab the Brand Impact Scorecard and start making a bigger impact. 

Once a prospect is aware of your business, they can and should be led to digging deeper to learn more. This is where you start to form a  connection through your content (blog, social etc.)

After following your content for a while or attending a talk or webinar, trust begins to form and this is where they’ll want to talk to you or meet you. I find that referrals don’t always jump right in, they want to go through the know, like, process first.

I love this one. Create a way for clients to sample your business. Offering a low-risk trial can do a lot for your business. Here’s an example he gave in the book: An architect created a $499 feasibility audit for builders and property owners to get a quick assessment before investing in a full-fledged set of plans. This is the beginning of a relationship and if the architect does a good job, chances are that the client will enroll for the big project. What can you offer as a taste? I recently came up with the idea of 2 coaching sessions for $500 so people could get a taste of my coaching before they make a bigger commitment.

Want to know if you’re making a lasting impression on potential clients? Grab the Brand Impact Scorecard and start making a bigger impact. 

This is where they buy the main product or service. Of course, you need to make sure people like it and you deliver as promised but you want it to get people talking as well. How you orient your client once they buy is super important. You need to look at each touchpoint of their experience from the time they sign the contract to the delivery of the end product and beyond. How you communicate, how you get paid etc. are all the things that make you referral-worthy.

When I sign up a new member to the Business Accelerator, I explain exactly what will happen in detail on the phone, they then receive a welcome email and get put in a group email list so they receive a reminder the day before the group calls as well as the recording the day after the calls. I’ve looked at each touchpoint carefully. I didn’t use to send the call reminder the day before and everyone would be emailing me to find out the Zoom link. Now it all goes out the day before. That’s just one small detail but it makes all the difference.

Do you have an orientation process or a kit of information that goes to all new clients? How can you make it an experience that people can’t wait to share?

Doing a good job is only gets you halfway to the referral phase. The key factor in creating repeat sales, expanded product sales, and long-term loyalty is to make sure your clients are getting the most value possible beyond getting what they signed up for. Commit to teaching them the proper way to get the most from what they’ve purchased, share under the hood tips and best practices. Go the extra mile.

This is most important…what follow-up process do you have in place to make sure your clients are getting the value they were hoping for when they signed up for the project? Do you have a results review? I’ve been teaching a brand check-in process where you set some goals at the outset of a branding project and then check-back 6 months to a year later to see how it went. There is very little follow-up in business to actually see how the client is doing or if the work you did had a real impact.


Your client becomes such an advocate that they act as a salesperson for you. Create a system that makes it easy to refer you. Hold an event that focuses on networking and referral opportunities. Organize a lunch and learn and invite a client to bring someone that they might refer to your firm. What ideas can you think of?

Want to know if you’re making a lasting impression on potential clients? Grab the Brand Impact Scorecard and start making a bigger impact. 

I hope you’ll start looking at your client lifecycle this way. You are probably already doing much of it but there are likely a few new things to incorporate. I know that I already have a few ideas just from writing this!

Rhonda Page