by Sabrina Risley
We all had grandiose visions of opening our business, kicking our feet up on the desk, and answering incoming calls and demands for our widgets. Unfortunately, that’s not how it happens. However, when you become a Referral Superstar, your phone begins to ring and you soon get more qualified, ready-to-buy prospects knocking at your door.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading two books pertaining to referrals: The Referral of a Lifetime by Tim Templeton and Endless Referrals by Bob Burg. I consistently use both as reference tools. What I learned from both books is that to become a Referral Superstar, first you need to know how to build a referral network so that you actually receive referrals. In this case, you need to answer Why, Who, What, and When so you can get to the HOW.
W #1 = Why
You might be asking yourself, “If I do a good job, won’t I just GET referrals?” It’s possible, but by asking for referrals, you greatly increase the chances of receiving referrals, and you most certainly receive them more quickly. Asking for referrals isn’t selfish. It’s about giving and passing along valuable resources. People love to connect and they love to help. When they refer someone, they know they are being of service by making the connection. When you give people the opportunity to help, they will.
Additionally, referrals are the BEST source for new customers, as prospects are more likely to believe what others say about you than what you tell them about yourself. There is nothing more prized than having the opportunity to meet someone based on the strong recommendation from their friend or associate. Referrals come to you already trusting in who you are and what you offer. You are already on the pedestal, placed there by the referring party. With each new referral turning into new business, it leads to more opportunity to grow and expand your network of referral based clients!
W #2 = Who
The Rule of 250 states that you have at least 250 contacts in your circle of influence. It further states that each of your 250 contacts has a circle of influence of 250 as well. Wow… that’s more than 62,000 people at your fingertips!! Doesn’t it make sense then to say that your 250 contacts know people who need your products/service?
The first step is to explore your existing network to identify the best people from whom you can ask for referrals. These could include: satisfied current and previous customers; raving fans and champions; those with whom you have a trusted relationship; friends; family; contacts with whom you have sufficiently established a know, like, trust factor, or rapport and connection. When it comes to building a referral based business, your network is your lifeline.
W #3 = What
Once you identify who to ask, begin identifying exactly what you are asking for. What does a good referral look like? Saying that “anyone and everyone is a good referral” ensures you’ll get referred to no one. It’s best to narrow down to specifics as it helps your contacts know who to refer to you. The more specific and focused you are, the more likely you are to get a referral.
Be specific and determine what you are asking from your referral source.
- Geography: In which geographic area do you prefer to work? Even if you can work nationwide, it’s best to narrow the geographic region so you referral source can actually imagine prospects for you in that specific area. This doesn’t mean you won’t receive referrals or business outside that area. This is about narrowing the focus for your referral source.
- Focus on a Product or Service: What is your core or primary focus of the products or services you offer? You can also view this from the perspective of offering the most well-received product/service available and lead with that. Again, narrowing the focus for your referral source.
- Type of Client or Person: What are the specifics about your ideal client/referral? Are they in a specific age or income range? What type of person, or what situation or circumstances define the person who best fits the products or services for which you are seeking a referral? Are they retirees? Families with young children? Being specific here further helps in receiving referrals.
By following these first 3 W’s, you are well on your way to growing your business through referrals. Spend some time this month identifying your who (referral partners) and your what (specifics), so you are ready for part two of this article, which includes WHEN and HOW to ask for referrals.
“When we seek help, people are there to help. But you have to take the first step and ask for it. ”
~ Angie Ridings
For related reading, see also our Janauary 2011 post, The Most Important Factor to Receiving Referrals = YOU!
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