Have you ever received a referral to your business that is just plain AWKWARD? You know, where someone says ‘Hey I know someone who really needs your service, here’s their number, you should give them a call?’
Being the diligent business owner that you are, you duly give the person a call only to discover they have NO IDEA who or why you are calling. Yep, totally AWKWARD!
Now imagine how it would feel like to get amazing referrals in your business that practically pre-sold your services before they even talk to you? Sounds great doesn’t it?
There is an art to building a successful referral business and it starts with YOU.
First you need to become really good at giving GREAT referrals. It’s a little bit like the ‘Golden Rule’...Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
So what is a GREAT referral?
To give a great referral, there needs to be a great process. Your process may differ depending on your style and approach from a few phone calls and follow up emails or it could be a round of golf to make proper introductions...it all depends on your circumstances.
Let’s look at the different ways you can give a referral from the not-so-good, to the great. And where does your referral process sit on the scale?
The Teaser Referral
This is when you email one party with limited information such as
I referred Joe Blogs to call you about your service. Keep an eye out for him”
It’s akin to telling someone they’re on fire while holding a bucket of water and not offering it to them. The promise of a good lead is there but you have no way of contacting the interested party or the context of the conversation. Terrible!
The ‘Use my name’ Referral.
This is where you allow someone to use your name - ‘talk to this person, use my name’ – the other side has not been notified and so things feel a bit awkward for both parties. Not great.
The 'After the fact' Referral
Ever had a catch up with a friend or colleague who then drops this gem into the conversation 'Oh by the way, I've recommended a few friends get in touch with you'. Whhhhaaaaaattttttt!!!! Who are they? When did this happen? What do they need? How can I help them? To which your friend replies...'Oh I can't remember who it was now'. Auugghhhhh....save me now! Your friend may think well of you and wants to be seen to be helpful and while it's a nice stroke for your ego, it's right up there with the 'Teaser' referral.
A great referral is when you talk to both parties, gain permissions and also confirm the fit before going forward. You follow up with an email introduction (with both parties addressed in the email including contact details) and follow up how the meeting went.
It may sound time consuming, but after a while it becomes very easy and fast to do. Plus the people receiving these referrals usually have a very high chance of doing business.
Here is an example of a great email introduction that I use to follow up my conversations.
Dear Anthony & Paul
Allow me to introduce you to each other as I believe there is some good synergy here.
Anthony is a photographer based at CITY and has been in business now for a couple of years and finding his way through the maze of business. Speaking with Anthony today, it was clear for both of us that they really needs a good business coach who can help guide them and help them improve their profitability.
Paul is a business coach with heart. He really does care about his clients and helping you have a fighting chance. He has a number of programs and runs online webinars with great content regularly.
Please get in touch with each other and see how you may be able to work together.
Anthony – 0415 555 555
Paul – 0416 666 666
Wishing you both the best with this introduction
It’s about QUALITY not quantity. One great referral is far better than a dozen terrible ones that just make people feel awkward.
Giving poor referrals is not a good reflection on you by the way either.
Make sure there is a good fit. You need to give referrals to the right people. They should have the following characteristics:
· They should be great at what they do
· They are people who keep their word...if they can’t then the referral is unlikely to produce anything worthwhile
· They are easy to deal with – people who have a positive attitude
· They show their appreciation – saying thanks is a sign of good character. Whether that is a note, card, phone call or a token gift. Acknowledgement goes a long way.
By the way, when you start to give great referrals, you'll often notice that you'll start to receive great referrals as well.
Share your referral experience in the comments below...I’d love to hear!