I’ve been coaching a lot of financial advisors lately on building their book of business by leveraging the power of referrals. Referred prospects make faster decisions and do more business than prospects through any other marketing strategy.
I LOVE referrals…and I get a lot of them.
The problem for most business owners is that they’re afraid to ask for fear of seeming pushy or needy. Colleagues are afraid to provide them because they don’t trust you enough to not jeopardize their relationships in their network.
So what’s a business owner to do?
When we’re in a slow economy, people are naturally hesitant and leery of making major investments. If you’ve found yourself making lots of offers but getting few of them accepted, you’re not alone. The problem may not be that what you have to offer isn’t valuable.
It may be that your approach is off.
Referrals could be the key to your recovery. Referred sales take less work. They close faster. They bring in more money. And if you know the secret to leveraging them, they can pull you right out of this financial doldrum most of the world is trapped in.
Here are the 5 steps, R.E.F.E.R. to getting all the referrals you can muster.
It’s important to identify the right referral partners. These might be good clients or colleagues who sell non-competing products or services to your target market.
In order to alleviate that “I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-endorse-you” hesitation, you have to properly orient your referral partners. They need to know not only what products and services you offer but how you’re going to treat their colleagues when you meet them. They have to feel confident that you’re not going to embarrass them or irritate the person they’re connecting you with.
Many people believe that giving you the name, phone number and email of a prospect is all that it takes. In fact, that’s the weakest kind of referral you can ever get. It’s better than a cold call for sure, but not strong enough to oversome the reluctance people have to meeting unknown sales people.
You want your colleague to talk to the prospect on your behalf and ‘grease the slide’ for you before you ever contact them.
Meeting your new prospect for the first time is a sensitive and delicate ocassion. If you blow it, the relationship could be over for good. And you could be jeopardizing your relationship with the person you already know. You have to make sure your new prospect is comfortable meeting with you and minimize their discomfort and fear that you’re going to take advantage of them.
Once you’ve met with the prospect, whether or not they buy from you, it’s important to properly thank the person who made the introduction. Thanking them can take many forms. The choice of how you show your appreciation should be commensurate with the business opportunity you had. It should also be personal enough that your friend or colleague knows that you gave this gratitude process some thought and didn’t just send them the exact same thing you’d give to everyone.
Sure, you can have a canned referral program but unless your standard gifts are whopper, super-duper items, they won’t have long lasting motivational impact. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just tailored and thoughtful.
Follow this 5-part system consistently and you’re pipeline will be packed with prospects clamoring to do business with you.