I was in a meeting the other day with a client who was lamenting about a ‘referral partner’ they were not getting referrals from. They were in a complimentary businesses to their partner. In fact, they had the same exact clients, but were not in competition. To top it all of, they sent him LOTS of referrals.
I realize this was VERY frustrating to my client. This conversation prompted me to think about why a person does not receive referrals. I came up with these main three:
- Your ‘Partner’ is a big, selfish JERK!
- You are not good enough.
- You have NOT trained them on how to refer you.
If your partner is a big, selfish jerk, get rid of them. The world has a good number of takers. It may not be easy to separate yourself from them, but it is necessary. The sooner you part ways, the happier you will be. Stop thinking about it… FIRE THEM!
If you are not good enough, get better. Anytime someone gives you a referral they are giving you all the good will they have created with their friend or client and letting you use it. If you take advantage of that or have not made sure they trust you, you will lose a referral partner quickly. Before someone will let you use the trust THEY have built, they must trust you…
Most will fall into this third category. Passing referrals comes naturally to some, but not to others… Just like some people are ready to buy before you even talk to them, and some you need to take through a sales process. If you are not receiving referrals, it is because your partners don’t know how to refer you!
So, how do you train people to look for referrals for you?
- Know who your dream referral is.
It may seem basic, and I’m sure it is something we all take for granted. If you are not intentional about figuring out who your dream referral would be, it can easily fall by the wayside. Once you figure who your dream referral is, write it out. Figure out a good way to articulate it, if and when you are asked.
- Identify all of your target markets.
You have already figured out who your DREAM referral is, but there are likely several different target markets you sell to. Figure out who all your different target markets are and give them an identity. Before you can properly tell others who to you look for, you must have a clear explanation in your own head of your target markets.
- Have stories about people you have helped and HOW you helped them (testimonials).
Hopefully you already have testimonials ready to go. If not, find them. Ask clients why they purchased from you. Ask clients what pain you eliminated in their life. Ask clients what pleasure they received from using your product/service. I generally find it is best to have one BIG IDEA per testimonial. Be sure to focus on the benefits the client received. How your product/service made them feel. If they say, “You were very punctual.” Get deeper. Why does being punctual matter? It might make your client feel safe with you because you are trustworthy. You do what you say you are going to do.
- Be Specific. Use names of actual people, job titles, life experiences, etc.
The more detailed you can be about your target market, the better. Identify who the person is, know their name, know their job title, know the experiences they are going through in life that would qualify them as a good referral for you. For instance, if you are a financial planner, you know a great entry point with a client is if they are changing careers and need to roll over their retirement funds from their old employer. If you are a realtor, a family having their 3rd child often means they are outgrowing their current home. If you are a hvac professional, season changes are a trigger for prospects/clients to call you. SPECIFIC IS TERRIFIC.
Maybe your referral partner doesn’t know Jane Smith, Office Manager at ABC Enterprises, but he does know Janet Jones, Office Manager at XYZ Inc. The more specific you are the more likely you will be able to trigger potential referrals in your partner’s mind.
- Weave all the above information into your communication with your referral partner.
Now that you have accumulated all the pertinent information, start weaving the information into the narrative you have with your referral partner. I have found the easiest way is to take them to lunch and ask them about their dream referrals. Ask them about their target markets. Ask them how you can help them. We don’t give in order to receive, but like I learned in BNI (bniswonky.com) Giver’s Gain.
If you truly care about others and are looking to help them, they will want to give to you as well. Open the dialogue. Tell them what topics of conversation lead to a potential referral for you. Help them to know the right questions to ask to qualify as a GREAT REFERRAL for you.
- Don’t be the big, selfish JERK!
In conclusion, make sure you are truly giving. Make sure you are not a TAKER. Resentment builds when there are un-communicated expectations in a relationship. Be open, be honest.
If you have any other ideas, let me know in the comments…