Lead Generation – Sources of Referrals

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The theme for this week seems to be leads generation.  So let’s take a look at it from a few perspectives.

First, why are you gathering leads?  The obvious, first answer is getting names of prospects for your business.  But you may be building a mailing list for a newsletter, or building your support or information network.  Or maybe you are positioning yourself as a hub firm so that you become a referral producing machine.  Let’s assume you are developing prospects. 

Now, what activities are you involved in that produce leads?  Making a list of all of them is good, then reviewing the eight sources of referrals: clients, contact spheres, power teams, people you do business with (or who expressed interest in doing business but didn’t), people whose business benefits from yours, referral groups, business and social groups, staff members and friends, and key referral partners.  Hey, wait!  That’s nine.  Well, I guess you can’t have too many. 

Let’s start with clients.  There is no end to the ways suggested to extract referrals from your clients.  My caution has always been that your relationship with them is the most important thing.  You work hard to gain their trust and thus, their business.  You do not want to damage that in any way, so how and when you ask for referrals will depend on a number of factors.  Have you laid the ground work for asking?  Have you earned the right?  Some people are not concerned with these questions but most of us are.  So it is important to prepare your clients for their role as a referral source.  You might start with the idea that you will encounter a broad spectrum of attitudes in your client base regarding making referrals.  This runs from first-date- spill-their-guts-tell-you-all-and-everyone to the more cautious “I don’t normally do that” client who will require a long relationship-building process to convert.  How you go about asking for referrals and when you do it depends heavily on your behavioral style, your client’s style, and the quality of relationship you have built with them.

That’s plenty to get started on.  Next time we’ll talk about making yourself a resource for your clients.  Remember don’t come out of the gate asking for something before you have made the deposits.  Focus on building relationships and the referrals will follow.