Category Archives: Referral Strategies

How to Get Referrals without Asking for Them


I had the good forture to be asked to present a webinar on referral marketing for  They specialize is sales and marketing resources for service professionals.  In preparation for the webinar, I was interviewed by Michelle Davidson of RainToday.  The title of the interview is: “How to Get Referrals without Asking for Them”.  Here’s a link to the Interview and to her  blog.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.


I’m a Good Person, So Where Are My Referrals?


One of the things in life that we are pretty sure of is, “To know me is to love me.”  Most people who get to know you end up liking you.  So being the lovable person that you are, why aren’t you getting more referrals?  Well, one of the reasons could be that you have the wrong expectations.

When we think of referrals we know we want them, and maybe even how many we want.  But where will we get them?  We belong to referral groups.  We have clients who can refer us.  We network.  We have friends and colleagues.  But identifying these sources isn’t enough.  They must know how to refer us.  And that is our responsibility.

Knowing how to refer us has a couple of aspects: who is a good referral and what is the process for making the referral?  Our trouble starts with our expectation that everyone can and will refer us to good prospects.

It is not reasonable to assume that everyone will be able to refer business to us.  There are many reasons why this might be so.

  • They may not know we are looking for referrals.
  • They may not have contact with our target market.
  • They may not be inclined to make referrals.
  • They may not know enough about us.
  • They may not know enough about our product or service.
  • They don’t know what to say.

If you are expecting referrals from someone, some of the first questions to be asked are, “Does this person have contact with my Target Market?” and “Do they engage with my Target Market in a way that enables them to recommend me?”  There are many people we like and who like us.  And many people ask us to tell them how they can help us.  But many of these people are able to refer us only occasionally and randomly.

Are your expectations for referrals in alignment with your relationships and with the ability and desire of the people in your network to refer you?

How Much of Your Business Is By Referral?


Even in this era of so much emphasis on Social Media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other channels as lead generators, I often hear from people that their new business opportunities still come almost 100% by referral. This is particularly
true for small businesses. While 100% may be the goal, usually the real number is significantly lower. Folks aren’t lying; they’re just operating under a misconception.

This misconception comes from the lack of a system that develops and tracks lead generation and more specifically, referral generation. If you want to build your business through referrals, you need a system to develop and track them. That means your system
includes a way to track and measure. While “paperwork” is, for me, the least attractive part of sales, (unless the paperwork is a contract) results are erratic and unpredictable without it. Who is giving you referrals? Who are you referring? What are you doing to earn referrals? What is your closing percentage for referrals vs. other lead sources? Are you in the right networks? Are the referrals you are receiving your ideal clients or are they “anybody” or “somebody”?

This fifth “M” of the 5 M’s of Marketing may be the least glamorous of them all, but it can be the difference between a hobby and a business. So, if you want referrals to be a predictable part of your new business generation instead of just a happy surprise, you need a system. And a big part of that system is Measuring your activities and results.

What, More On Social Media?

These days it’s hard to go for long without hearing about social media. Weather Channel is Tweeting, athletes are tweeting and Facebooking, politicians are tweeting, alerts and updates popping up on the computer. It’s all fun and interesting but left unmanaged, can become a black hole that eats up large chunks of valuable time. So, from a business perspective, how much is enough and which media are the right ones? Of course, the answer to that is, “It depends.”
We network to meet other sales professionals and expand and deepen our referral relationships. However, another valuable aspect of your network is that of providing support and information. Most of us are fortunate to meet regularly with a number of experts, some of them in the area of social media and internet marketing and support. So if you have questions about what you should be doing in the world of real time marketing (to quote a favorite source, David Meerman Scott) you may find some answers right there in the room with you. How about Jeff Sheehan, Donna Lang, Danny or Sarah from Yepser, or Stan Schnitzer, PR consultant? Or Carol Shepherd, Eric Flamm, Erik Seifert, or Doug Wheeler to help sort out the technology to plug you into the cyber world? Or Betsy Rhame-Minor or Michelle Hutchinson, or Stan Schnitzer to help you craft that that social media message? If you are interested in learning about how social media might fit into your marketing, you might want to spend a few minutes with Dan Greenfield and ask him about the Social Media Makeover on 8 November. Looks like a good place to start.
Make good use of the great resources you are already connected to. If you look around you, you will find an abundance of talent that can help you with building your business. Social media is only one of the areas represented by some real pros you already know. Have a conversation with the; broaden and deepen your referral relationships. Lend your expertise to them, and in the process, expand your information network, as well.

Earning Favors


Sent by SunTrust Banker and Certfied Networker Jan Snyder:

“ Don’t wait for, expect, or rely on favors.

Count on earning them
by hard work and perseverance. ”

Marian Wright Edelman (1939 – )
American activist
founder of the Children’s Defense Fund

So what’s hard work and perseverance got to do with getting referrals? I thought this referral networking stuff was supposed to be fun. Well, I think this quote summarizes word-of-mouth marketing and referral development pretty well. And it is another way of saying what Dr. Ivan Misner says about networking: “It’s not net-sit, or net-eat. It’s network.”

I often say that referrals shouldn’t be a happy surprise. Rather, they should be a predictable part of your business plan that can be depended on to help you achieve you business goals. The only way for that to happen is to have purposeful, planned activities that produce referral results. So having a plan and working it are necessary to being successful in the world of WOM.

And one of the really nice parts about developing business through building strong business relationships is the idea of reciprocity. To me, the first line of the quote says that everything I do may not directly come back to be in the way of a referral or new business. However, it will come back to me somehow. It also provokes the thought that we shouldn’t wait before we do something for someone. Don’t wait for the other guy to go first. Start finding ways to help others and see what happens.

Of late, I’ve been trying to pick up the pace with my relationship building activities. Consistently applying the 18 Tactics easily becomes a habit that produces results.  These 18 Tactics are deposits with those who matter and may earn us to those favors that will make the difference in our our business.


What Is WOM and Why Do I Need Some?


New Rules of Marketing (image)I picked up a book last week, The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott. It set my hair on fire! I’’ll get on that topic another time, (not the hair, the book) but right now I want to comment on something that kept coming to mind while I was reading. That is, how people use the terms “word of mouth marketing”, “referral marketing”, and “networking” when talking about obtaining leads. I’’ll add another that I like better, “relationship marketing”. (That may be redundant, because marketing is about creating and maintaining relationships.)

But while reading the book, the term that kept coming to mind was “word of mouth”. The reason is, most of the business people I talk with seek the holy grail: referrals.

And so they “network”. They ask for referrals. They rely on “word of mouth”.

And this is where we are falling short.

Most of our word of mouth comes from our own mouths. There has been a lot written and said about developing referrals through building networks and developing relationships. Heck, that’’s my specialty and I’’ve learned from some of the best in the business, as well as through the school of hard knocks. But the old referral guru, Dr. Ivan Misner, said it a long time ago: word of mouth marketing. (He even created a marketing plan called the WOMBAT Plan.) But it was lost on me, like I suspect it is lost on most sales and business people. I got caught up in the tactics, the getting referrals.

Networking and building referral relationships are only one of the aspects of marketing by building word of mouth. Check out Dr. Misner’’s World’’s Best Known Marketing Secret and David Meerman Scott’’s books and learn about creating WOM. Dr. Misner’’s focuses on the fundamentals of good, old fashioned, hit the streets WOM; and Scott’’s is a high tech, changing everyday, got to keep up, cutting edge version. Both approaches valid; one a part of the other. The basic elements are the same: market, motivation, message. They just offer different media.