In this book we are reminded of the power of referrals. Being given a referral means the referring party strongly endorses your product, your service and even you. By the simple act of referring, the contact who referred you has given you a strong recommendation; therefore you are already viewed favorably. Be mindful that people are more likely to believe what others say about you as compared to what you say about yourself.
For someone to say that your company has amazing customer service has a much greater impact than you proclaiming that your service is amazing. It’s the essence of the third-party endorsement that gives you strength.
So how do you go about turning the wheels of the referral cycle? I’d like you to consider Five components.
Ask, Educate, Assure, Guide, Follow-up.
Ask for referrals. People want to help you so don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Take a look at your current list of contacts, clients and individuals in your circle of influence. You have permission to ask for referral from individuals: (1) with whom you have a good relationship, (2) who know your work ethic and service levels, (3) who endorsed your product/service, (4) to whom you currently send referrals.
Educate your referral sources. Do they know enough about you, you offer, and what constitutes a good referral? Identify your “carrot” or buzz words that they can listen for as they interact with people, and share your “carrot” words with your referral sources. Education can be provided any number of ways including informative newsletters, direct mail pieces, and one-on-one conversations.
Assure your referral sources. Pledge that you will always deliver top notch service and look out for the best interest of anyone they refer. Prepare yourself for the occasion in which you might need to recommend another company if you are unable to meet the needs and expectations of your new referred contact. Be sure to communicate back to the referring party to let them know what has transpired with their referral (ie, they hired you, purchased your product, recognized it wasn’t a good fit).
Guide your referral sources. Let them know how best to introduce new referrals to you so all parties have the greatest opportunity for success. For example, you might ask your referral source to kindly: (1) provide you with the new contact’s name and telephone number, (2) let you know which of your products or services the contact has an interest, (3) position their contact to expect a follow up phone call from you.
Follow-up with your referral sources. Let them know of your success or lack of success. I believe this is the some overlooked aspect of the Referral Process. It is always important to communicate back to your referral source and sometimes just say ’Thank You’. This builds the bridge of Trust, and helps you further define your relationship with the referral partner. But don’t forget that the referral process is a reciprocal process, if someone gives you an referral you must be mindful for the need of a future referral back to them.
The Referral Process
Many good (and bad) referrals are lost due to the referral process and how the referral is given to you. I personally have given a number of referrals which simply indicated that I should call . . . John Doe at 303.555.1212. When I call John Doe, he knows nothing about me, is not expecting my call, and cannot believe that the referral source gave me his information. Any referral given to you without following a process is nothing more than a Cold Call, and I hate Cold Calls. When giving a Referral Partner a lead, follow one of my three methods:
BEST- Three-way meeting (coffee or meal) with the Referral Source and the Referral Candidate. Nothing speaks better than having the Referral Source make a testimonial in front of you and the Referral Candidate.
BETTER- Call and Virtual Introduction. Have the Referral Source call the Referral Candidate in advance and follow-up with a Virtual Introduction Email. A Virtual Introduction would be as if you were introducing this person at a Chamber Meeting. In the Virtual Introduction always include professional and personal information about each person, to derive commonality between these parties.
GOOD- Call the Referral Candidate then follow-up later with another call. Have the Referral Source call the Referral Candidate, with the necessary information about you and position that person accordingly so your call gets immediately taken. Always follow-up with a ‘thank you’ (call or email) and report the results of the call.