I had the good forture to be asked to present a webinar on referral marketing for RainToday.com. 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.
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?
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.
I attended a presentation by Jeff Sheehan recently on social networking. Jeff always does a good job in helping me feel a little better by helping me sort out the abundance of networks and which might be right for me. Here are a few ideas on the topic from my friend and Referral Institute colleague, Paula Frazier.
|Join a Web-Based Networking Group
So you’re stuck in your proverbial cave? There’s still a way out…through the world wide web!
Some say that if you successfully harness the power of the internet you can actually experience positive results in your business networking efforts. David Teten and Scott Allen, authors of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, tell us that online networks may even become the next power lunch or golf course.
Many times when folks hear the word “network” they assume it’s referring to the way computers are physically connected and hardwired together. The most current definition has to do with the virtual connection to today’s wired-up world. WWW dot opportunities seem almost infinite!
These days, how often do you hear, “Let’s do lunch?” Almost never! It’s been replaced by, “Shoot me an email” or “Let’s catch up on FaceBook.” My teenage daughter literally uses the word “talk” in place of “text” and describes online communications as if they’re discussions.
Like it or not, we can keep up or get left behind because technology is going to continue to move forward with or without us. It’s generally more empowering to get started on your own terms. So let’s do it!
This week TAKE ACTION by venturing out via computer:
1. Find an online business community that’s a good fit for you.
2. Set up your profile (completely).
3. Request connections with people you know.
4. Post your status and comment on a colleague’s blog/status.
5. Schedule daily or weekly time to regularly participate in your online community.
Can you establish relationships and do business online? Yes. I still firmly believe that the strongest relationships, those that stand the test of time and turmoil, will be those that are nurtured face to face, nose to nose and toe to toe. Online communities shouldn’t take the place of the actual community you live and work in. It should enhance and add value to it!
|As someone that relies completely on word-of-mouth to build my businesses, I’ve found The 29% Solution, written by leading referral marketing expert Dr. Ivan Misner, to be instrumental in my success. He offers 52 weekly networking success strategies (one per week) and specific actions to take to experience success through focused, purposeful networking efforts.
Paula Frazier is a referral marketing trainer, consultant and keynote speaker. She is an Executive Director for BNI and part of a select team of Master Trainers for Referral Institute. Paula’s business networking articles have been featured internationally. She was recently published in Brainsbook for Networking and is also acknowledged in the New York Times best seller, Truth or Delusion – Busting Networkings Biggest Myths. Check out #33, Delusion with a twist! Paula can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
When The Worlds Best Known Marketing Secret came out in 1994, it was one of the few books in the bookstores that talked about networking. Now there are dozens, if not hundreds. Over the next several years, you will see more and more about the importance of networking to build your business. It is developing into a science as well as a way of life.
Networking is all about learning how to connect with other people in meaningful ways despite, or possibly because of, our technological revolution. Online networking works, but relationships must still be part of the process. Using the internet to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and increase your visibility will be imperative in the coming years. Technology flattens the communication hierarchy and provides opportunities to improve your networking efforts, not replace them. I believe people who understand this will begin to effectively use technology without replacing relationships, to take their marketing to new levels in the years to come.
Dr. Ivan Misner, in the recent New York Times bestseller, Truth or Delusion, says, We truly live in a high-tech, high-touch society. The more technologically advanced we become, the more important it is to reach out and touch real people in our work to connect on a personal level with people.
And yet, as new as all this technological connectivity is, it simply takes us back to an earlier era, when we lived in small communities with our extended families and knew all our neighbors. The old ways have become new again.