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How Interior Designers Can Manage & Cultivate Your Referral Relationships - 4 Strategies You Can't Miss

behind interior design business development for interior designers business of interior design business tips for interior designers generate leads for design business how to grow a design business marketing tips for designers Nov 09, 2021
Business development strategies for interior deisgners

You have worked hard to establish your business, and you have compiled a great list of referrals, but what now? Obtaining referrals is the first step to cultivating a strong relationship with your potential new clients.

Next, you will need to take several steps to ensure that you can transform referrals into returning clients. If, by chance, you’re reading this and haven’t gone through the process of obtaining your own referrals, take a few moments to read A Quick Guide to Generating Interior Design Leads with Referrals. Here you will be able to quickly learn how to generate your own referrals so that you can get started on the right foot. After that, please feel free to come back here so you can start the next step in the process: cultivating those relationships. 

But if you find that you need additional support, another great resource that can help you is my blog called 10 Business Referral Avenues to Help Grow an Interior Design Business. After reading this, you will better understand where to find referrals fit for a designer. So if you can, I highly encourage you to read these two blogs as they are great tools to implement for your business; in fact, I continue to use these avenues for my own business because I always have positive results.

Alright, now that we’ve covered that, let’s fast forward to you having a huge list of amazing candidates for your interior design business, but hold on, what are you supposed to do now? The next step is to begin cultivating and managing those referrals. Again, having a list is great, but what you do with that list is truly what matters. Here are some steps you can take to help you better manage your referrals and begin cultivating relationships in hopes of turning them into long-lasting clients! 

4 Ways to Cultivate a Prospect


1. Connect with your lead on social media.  

Did you know that according to Hubspot, 39% of consumers build trust in a brand from peer-to-peer conversations and view other consumers as 14% more credible than brand employees? The best way to connect with any referral is to follow them on social media and interact with their content.

If you want to connect with someone, this is the easiest way to do it in 2021. Take time to like their posts and leave thoughtful and meaningful comments when you can. Show that you care. Just by creating simple conversations on social media, you can create a huge open door opportunity for you and your referral. If you take time to interact with their content, they will eventually notice and begin to interact with your content. 

In marketing, there is a term called “touchpoints.” This term means that you need to create opportunities for people to see you, your content, and your business as many times as possible, so they are convinced you are an expert in your field before they consider becoming a client or a buyer.

Without these touchpoints, it will be much more difficult for you to convince your lead that you are right for them. Therefore, make sure that you create enough touchpoints, so you stay top of mind as much as possible. Each touchpoint you make is one step closer to the potential of receiving a new client. 

2. Send a personal note periodically or a gift at holidays.

Once the relationship between you and your potential client has been formed, you must continue to nurture that relationship to keep that lead as hot as possible. Another great analogy for leads is comparing them to a flame.

If your lead is hot, that means that they are very close to converting to a client. If your lead is warm, that means you need to continue making an effort to get your lead to become a hot lead. If your lead is cold, that means that it may be too late, and it may be time to focus on another, warmer lead. 

Related Article: "The Power of a Personal Note: How a Hand-Written Note can Increase Business"

It is important to keep your leads as hot as possible. A great way to make that happen is to keep in touch with your leads by sending them personal messages or even a gift during the holidays.

Of course, this all depends on your budget allocated towards your referral program, but a great way to keep your leads active is to send them a personalized card with a gift card inside. It does not have to be anything expensive. Even a five-dollar coffee gift card will be good enough. Your main purpose is to continue to cultivate those relationships that you are forming. 

Think about relationships that you form in your personal life. You want to make them happy by sending them nice messages or gifts to show that you care about them. You want them to stay around, so you make nice gestures to show them how you feel.

It is the same for your referrals. Of course, it will not be as personal, but the main idea is still there. You want to make sure that you do everything you can to keep your leads around until they become clients. These are relationships you are forming, and they take work, just like any other relationship would. 

3. Give a testimonial on how it was to work with this person on previous projects.

This is such a great way to showcase your work and a great way to showcase other relationships you have formed with other clients. Potential buyers like to see when you have successfully worked with other people. Likewise, potential clients really enjoy seeing results. Results could make a difference in the relationships you are beginning to form with your referrals.

Testimonials are a great way to show potential clients what they can achieve by working with you. Sharing testimonials is one of the best forms of content you could post on your social media and website. Take time to ask former clients to give you testimonials that you can begin to share. Share your business successes regularly because it could be another touchpoint that leads a potential client to you.

4. Always find an opportunity to ask for referrals. 

You want your referral list to keep growing, which means you have to be proactive about finding new ways to find new referrals. The simplest way to do this… just to ask! 

“But Jackie, what should I ask?” Great question!

  • Ask any of your previous clients.
  • Ask for them in a social media post.
  • Ask for them in your emails.
  • Ask for them in your newsletters.
  • Use word of mouth. 

Get creative! There are so many ways to get referrals that even I have not thought of yet. You must take time to brainstorm ways to get referrals and use every opportunity you can to continue obtaining referrals regularly. This will ensure that your interior design business will stay thriving. 

Hopefully, these tips will help you manage your referral system more efficiently. I hope you begin to fully embark on this journey with the correct knowledge and skills that you need to succeed. Start by building your referral list, then take the next steps to keep those referrals as hot as possible. In time, and if managed properly, you will begin to see your business grow from your efforts!

As always, thank you for trusting me to help you with your business! Be sure to sign up to join our community of interior designers below. We are striving to provide additional value to designers through our free membership. This includes free access to video tutorials and guides to help you in your career and business.  

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