Only Ask Customers For Referrals

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Sales, skmurphy

Only ask your customers for referrals, don’t jump the gun and ask prospects to recommend you, especially if they have not even had a chance to use your product.

Like many people I am on a number of mailing lists. I got an offer for  a “free article” on a topic that looked interesting. When I went to the download screen I was asked to provide my twitter credentials so that a pre-defined message would be injected into my stream. I haven’t seen the canned message in any of the folks I follow but if I were to see the same message from a number of folks I think it would lose its impact. I am also not sure what is says about the author’s confidence in the impact of his article but clearly he values a generic–and somewhat coerced–endorsement over a handcrafted one given freely.

Welcome to Powerful-New-Service. Many thanks for joining us. We’re doing our best to get your beta account ready.

In the meantime, please help us spread the word. To show our appreciation, you’ll get Powerful-New-Service (1 year) when you get 5 people to join. Here’s a link to share: Link

I promise to do everything I can to make PowerfulNewService worth your time. Let me know if you have any questions.
<FirstName of Powerful-New-Service CEO>

I wrote back

<FirstName of Powerful-New-Service CEO>: you are asking me to refer people for a service I have no experience with and therefore no basis to recommend.

Let me try this on you:

Thank you for your interest in working with SKMurphy, due to capacity constraints we cannot start our first project with you just yet but if you recommend us to five other people we move you to the head of the queue./SeanM

The CEO then wrote back:

Thank you for your note. I agree, this email doesn’t make sense — it was sent in error, and includes sections of content we use for various beta testers.

Please accept my apology. I’ll do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

It’s been a few months now, the website is still up but there have been no new updates. They may have shot themselves in the foot before they could get started with their attempt to wrest referrals out of prospects.

“If You See A Line Get In It”

“If you see a line get in it, because you’re going to want what’s at the end.”
USSR aphorism

This is too often the basis for a poor launch message. Too many “viral launch” strategies require a prospective user or customer to tweet or e-mail friends or post a badge on their blog before they have had a chance to experience any aspect of the service. This reminds me of a joke from the USSR era:

Two women walk by a long line of people on a Moscow street.
They reach the end and one says, “Let’s get in it!”
“Why”, asks the other, “I cannot tell where it ends.”
So they ask the last person in line, “What are you in line for?”
He answers, “I am not sure but with a line this long it must be something good!”

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