Turning Your Clients into Ambassadors
I recently became a "club ambassador" at my health club. I guess I qualify since I've been a loyal member for about 15 years.
Ambassadors wear a wristband while working out so newer members or people checking out the club can ask questions. They can also find out how to use equipment and get their opinion on various aspects of membership.
It takes the standard testimonial one step further and gets members to actually partner as associate salespeople.
Truth is, I would have done this a long time ago, but the owner never asked me. He also never asked me for a written or video testimonial, which I would have also done.
Are you missing the same opportunity with your freelance business?
People like to help. And clients who are happy with what you've done for them would love to spread the word for you.
Let me back up a little bit here. This whole week, we've been talking about developing non-written communication skills.
When you make a good first impression … when you do a great client interview … when you position yourself as the clear solution in the proposal and make it easy for your client to say yes … and when you follow up like a true professional … the next logical step is for your client to help promote you.
The first level is a written testimonial from your client when the project is finished. It's rare for a client to take the initiative on this, so make it part of your routine to ask for one.
Before concluding a follow-up meeting, say, "John, could you do me a favor? I can say all kinds of good things about myself online, but it means a lot more coming from a satisfied client. Would you mind writing me a short testimonial about what you liked about working with me?"
If they're not sure what to write, give them ideas. I've written sample testimonials, sometimes writing exactly what a client has previously told me, and emailed it to them for their approval. Make it easy for the client, and follow up to make sure it gets done.
The second level of getting clients to help you is getting referrals. If you're doing all the other things we talked about this week, you'll most likely get unsolicited referrals from time to time. If you are comfortable asking, keep it simple. "Who do you know in a similar situation as you who might be interested in growing their sales, too?"
The third, and best, level you can get to in turning your clients into ambassadors is having your clients introduce you to other prospective clients. Even better is when the client actually arranges the meeting.
I've only had this happen twice so far, and now that it has, I strive for it with every client.
There's no way around it. For this to happen, you have to be bold.
I finished a follow-up session with a client recently and went through levels one and two (asking for a testimonial and referrals). Everything was going swimmingly, so I continued, "Would you mind calling Ali (the referral) and letting her know I'd like to meet with her?"
Sure enough, the next day Ali emailed me to schedule an appointment. My client was doing my work for me!
In three short years, I've come full circle from my humble beginnings. Remember on Monday when I talked about my "baptism by fire"? One thing I did right with that very first client: I got a testimonial. I leveraged that into two projects with other companies, and my freelance career was officially launched.
You never know when things will kick in.
My advice is to treat every client with the utmost respect, deliver your best possible work every time, and ask them to recommend you to others at every turn.
At some point, your clients will become your ambassadors, and that's when the writer's life gets much easier and much more fun.
Do you have any "client ambassador" success stories? Any referrals that turned into big projects? Key connections that opened a door for you? Tell me about it in the comment section below. I'd love to hear the brief story.
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