Referrals are a great way to build a business, unless they’re not. Here’s what I mean... We all love the referral that’s a perfect match. They have the right kind of need or problem, they know how we work and what we offer that’s valuable, and maybe they even expect to pay a premium to get what they’ve learned we have.
But then we’ve all received that awkward referral - one that’s not such a fit at all, one that wants to know why they can’t get a deal.
If your referrals, or perhaps your referral sources, don’t understand how, why and when to make a referral, chances are you’re not going build much momentum with your referral generation efforts.
Below are five things that everyone that you may recruit to refer your business, customer and strategic partner alike, must be taught in order to effectively refer business. Don’t view this idea as a selfish act, teaching those who want to refer how to do it more effectively makes their job easier as well.
1) How I would spot your ideal client
Be prepared to describe in glorious detail the exact type of business, person or problem that fits your ideal client profile. Of course, this means you’ve got to have that narrowly defined description internalized in all of your marketing efforts, but this is step one in making sure you don’t get the wrong kinds of leads.
2) How to describe in simple terms what you do best
Don’t tell your referral sources all the glorious details of your business and expect them to demo your it for you. Give them a core talkable phrase or image that they can use to simply define your unique benefit – they’re our outsourced CFO or they help us get paid faster. Keep it simple, benefit laden and short and teach them to use the simple and short version only. Do you really want a referral source explaining your process? Again, I hope you see that this requires you to understand what it is that makes you unique in simple terms. Hint: You probably don’t fully understand what it is, ask your customers to tell you what it is to them.
3) What phrases prospects use to trigger me to know to refer
If you sell accounting software don’t count on a prospective referral asking his golf buddy if he knows anyone that sells accounting software. But, what he might share during a round of golf is his frustration over the fact that he can’t ever get a handle on his receivables aging or that his data is housed in two places and neither seems to be up to date. These are what I call trigger phrases. If you were in front of a prospect and they said something like that, you would know immediately that they needed what you have to offer. Create a list of these kinds of tell tale phrases and offer them to your referral sources in a kind of a – if you hear a business owner say... give them our card. Don’t know what these are? Ask your salespeople, I’ll be they do.
4) What your marketing process looks like
The single greatest hold back when it comes to referrals is the unknown factor. So, if I give you the names of my book club buddies what are you going to do with those referrals? Spell out your marketing process step-by-step. First, we’ll invite them to an online seminar, then we’ll send them a guide to getting more from XYZ, etc. Show them you have a professional, special and non-threatening marketing process. And please, no phone calls during dinner!
5) What others say about you and your results
It can be helpful to share success stories and testimonials as a way to offer a little social proof that you’ve gotten other people results. In some cases, these might be quotes from the referral source or success stories from specific industries.
You can create a formal referral marketing brochure, web page or even mini presentation on your iPad, but taking the time to educate your referral sources will produce wins for all.
You can also find more information and insights into building referrals in my new book The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself.
John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award winning social media publisher and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.