In Feb 1997 I attended a training on working exclusively by referral. "Imagine a world without marketing. Where the only way any business might ever get another customer would be based on what their current customer had to say about them..."
Being treated the way you would like to be treated, in other words.
So just two hours into a 3-day training, I changed my voicemail to announce I was referral-only.
When I went back in, the trainer was saying, "Now first, understand this is a process. It will take years to build your referrals to where you can rely upon them 100%. Don't switch all of the sudden! You wouldn't try to learn to swim by cliff-diving into the sea in Mexico."
Then again, cliff-diving would be an excellent motivation to learn to swim, right?
With more resolve than sense perhaps, I stayed the course of referral-only. Time that used to be used to find new clients, I invested in taking better care of the ones I already had. I trusted my clients, and they took care of me. And still do.
At one point I surveyed a group of clients and asked why they refer me. I had some nifty things I had started doing and wanted to see which ones were most appreciated. The answer? They could see that I cared more about them than the commission.
That was it. None of the things I was doing. Not how skilled or knowledgeable I was, experience, professionalism... None of those. It was simply that I care.
Perhaps the things made it clear that I cared. But the caring was the key.
Treating others with love as Jesus says in Matthew 22:39 turns out to be excellent business advice!
Slow down. Listen. Understand what your clients and customers want and how they want to be served. Allow yourself room to care and do your very best. They will tell their friends.
The process works when you trust it. You could trust it by diving in and leaving yourself no other option. Or take the wiser route and gradually build referrals by taking better and better care of your clients. How that works in your business is a question for you. Or perhaps for your clients. What serves them best? Do more of that.