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What would your business be like if your current customers were
enthusiastically rounding up prospective customers for you? You can
achieve your professional goals faster and easier through effectively
targeting referrals. Like most worthwhile endeavors, getting
recommendations requires planning and preparation. This article shows
you how to get more and better referrals.
Ho-Hum. Another day at
the office, waiting for a potential customer
to call or come in. Hmmmm.
What would your business
be like if your current customers were enthusiastically rounding up
prospective customers for you? Imagine the excitement of talking to
people who already know about you and know about your products and
services. How difficult would it be to close those sales?
Of course! Selling to
those people would be a piece of cake. So why aren't your current
customers bringing you referrals? Perhaps it's because you have not
instructed them, motivated them, made it easy for them, asked them or
initiated the process.
Like most worthwhile
endeavors, getting referrals requires planning and preparation. First,
the planning. Start by making a list of all the people who might be a
referral source for you. These may include people you do business with,
such as your banker, accountant, attorney, printer, consultant, broker,
and so on. This list will also include at least some of your existing
clients. How about friends, community leaders, previous business
associates, and suppliers?
Next, scan the list for
the handful of your best current referrers. Chances are, you have a few
people who routinely recommend prospective customers to you. Perhaps you
also send referrals to them. Start with these potential "Referral
Partners". Almost always, you'll have better results by developing
stronger relationships with a few referral sources rather than shallow
relationships with lots of sources.
In order to help your
Referral Partners give you good, qualified referrals, you need to get
crystal-clear about what you are looking for. What types of
people/organizations make the best customers for you? Are there any
geographic limitations? How about size or volume requirements?
What problems do your
products and services solve? Your Referral Partner will have an easier
time of spotting potential clients for you if they (and you) are clear
about what symptoms to look for. This also makes it very natural for
your Referral Partner to suggest your firm as a way for their colleague
to solve a problem.
Don't overlook the
desired personal characteristics of potential customers. As you know,
the chemistry you have with a customer is a crucial factor in
establishing a long-term business relationship. Have you ever noticed
that some people make you feel good just to be around them? These are
the people who give you energy when they are near you. These special
people seem to unlock your creativity and stimulate your thinking. Wow!
On the other hand, there
are probably others you can think of who just drain all the life out of
you. Which would you rather have as clients? You can surround yourself
with people who are pleasant, easy to deal with, interesting and, oh
When you are clear about
describing the recommendations you want, you make it easier for your
Referral Partners to identify prospective customers for you.
Now that you have
identified several possible Referral Partners and you are clear about
the types of customers you want, it's time to create a customized plan
for each Referral Partner. Think win-win. What does the Referral Partner
get from this relationship? Brainstorm all the various ways in which the
Referral Partner benefits from giving you a recommendation. Be as
specific as you can. Each person has individual needs and interest, so
be creative in discovering ways in which this person gets value from the
Referral Partner relationship.
Perhaps one of your
current Referral Partners could help you brainstorm this list of
possible benefits that come from referring clients to you. Remember,
people do things for their reasons, not yours. If you can't articulate
the benefits of sending referrals to you, you'll not likely get many.
In order to instill
confidence in your Referral Partner, you need to spell out exactly what
you will do when given a referral. Your Referral Partner has surely
developed valuable relationships over the years and will be most
reluctant to do anything that might jeopardize those relationships. Be
specific as to what will happen when your Referral Partner gives you a
referral. A simple, step-by-step process that shows how you will
represent yourself (and your Referral Partner) will provide assurance
that the potential customer will be treated with respect and dignity.
Next, discuss the
specific actions you want from your Referral Partner. Do you want them
to call the potential customer? What do you want them to say? Would you
prefer they arrange a three-way appointment? Often, people want to give
you referrals, but don't know exactly what to do or how to do it. Train
them; coach them; help them get clear on what's expected of them.
Once you get a referral,
be sure to show your appreciation. Behavior that is recognized tends to
be repeated. You can show your appreciation in many creative ways. For
some Referral Partners, it may be a gift. Others may prefer recognition,
favors, events or special support. Showing your appreciation is not only
the polite thing to do; it is also a smart way to encourage more
So far, we've discussed
getting recommendations for potential customers. What about referrals to
new referral sources? By using the same process outlined earlier, you
have the opportunity to develop new Referral Partners. This is a great
way to dramatically increase your business without the time and effort
of cold calling and cold prospecting.
Bottom line; developing
and implementing an effective referral strategy can produce a steady
stream of new business for years to come. You can achieve your
professional goals faster and easier through effectively targeting
referrals. Start today.
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