October 19, 2007
You know the old saying “its not what you know, but who you know”? In some cases that’s very true. An introduction to a prospect can raise your closing percentage by up to 90% compared to a cold call.
Let’s define the word referral. A referral is not an idea you had about someone who needs a product or service that doesn’t know it and doesn’t really know you. That’s a lead. A referral is an introduction to a prospect that is actively looking for a product or service. It may include a little talk on how well they did for you as well as an introductory meeting.
Referrals are one of the strongest tools you can use to generate business for your company. They can also elevate your status with your current clients. If you provide a reliable solution to a problem outside the realm of your product or service, you’ve just earned emotional credit. The key word here is reliable.
By the same token, if you refer an unreliable connection, you can destroy a customer relationship. You may have even done a wonderful job with your product or service but referred a company that may have cost your client pain or money. By proxy, you have tarnished your reputation. Reputation in business is all we have.
Here are some tips on the referring process:
1. Ground rules. Meet with the company or person you are considering referring. Ask them if they are up to the work involved. Ask them what their experience is. Get proof. Gently let them know your reputation is at stake as well. If, while you’re meeting with them, they seem only to talk about their own business and not ask about yours, they may not be a good fit for trading referrals. You want this to be a healthy, productive two way street.
2. Do your homework. Check out the companies you are considering referring. If you haven’t worked directly with them before, get references. Make sure they are reliable and in good standing. Remember that your client will check out companies before using them - they may be more lax on this because they trust you. Don’t take that trust for granted.
3. Check back in. Always call your client throughout the process and especially at the end to make sure your referral did a good job. Let your client know that you care.
4. When in doubt - don’t. If there is any doubt about their ability or reputation, don’t refer them. On the other side, if you are referred and you’re not sure you can meet the deadline or provide the service, don’t put that persons reputation at stake. Treat others how you want to be treated.
5. Start small. If it’s a new referral relationship, start with a small job - not your biggest and best client. Put your toe in the water before you dive in.
Now get out there and look good!
©2007 Motley Creations.