Nothing makes closing a sale easier than having good referrals. When Sam tells Bill to what a great job you did for his library, Bill will hire you. Bill will even pay a little more for you than someone else because he knows you are a proven entity.
Always ask for a referral letter from every group you work for. Be sure to follow up this request with a letter that includes a postage paid envelope for them to comply with your request. Make it easy for them to send you a letter.
On the rare occasions I do a free show or a reduced price show, I make it clear up front that I expect a letter reviewing the show and how well it was received by the group.
Referral letters can be included in your mailing package. Excerpts can be added to your brochures and fliers. Referrals mean credibility and credibility means more bookings, higher fees and fewer phone calls.
My first library show paid $25.00 for my local library. More importantly though, the librarian wrote me a great referral letter. Then she also recommended me to the other libraries in the area and also got me booked to do a showcase at a regional librarian meeting. That one show paid off in many ways because of her recommendations.
Unfortunately, many times your client will promise to send a referral letter and never does. They get busy and forget, or whatever.
I always encourage my client to write the letter before I leave the gig. In schools, I can get the principal to write the letter while I am packing up.
Even a handwritten referral letter is better than a promise. Over the years, less than ten per cent of the letters I was promised showed up at a later date.
Another technique to get my referrals is to leave a stamped post card to be filled out and returned rating the show. This card will have short questions about the show and an area for additional comments. This gives me little quotes I can use later.
Always put a stamp on the postcard. Most people hate to waste a stamp, so they will mail the card. If they have to provide the stamp, the return rate drops drastically.
I hope these ideas help. Contact me if I can provide any other assistance.