More Articles

More Strategic Partnership Articles

Strategic Partnership Ideas and Case Studies

Networking Done Differently
Be our guest

B2B Businesses only

Seven steps to referral partnership that deliver real results

By Brenda Thomson

Seven steps to building amazing referral partner relationships which will generate an ENDLESS STREAM of quality referrals for your business.

 

INTRODUCTION

Have you ever noticed how you trust the word of someone’s endorsement over that the person who is selling the product or service? Obviously that’s because we expect the person who is selling the product to speak highly of it. After all generally they have a financial gain to be made from making a sale.

However hearing someone else, either a satisfied client or a trusted advisor, endorsing a product or service provides instant credibility.  That’s why testimonials are so important and why so many big companies use high profile celebrities such as sporting heroes and movie stars to promote their products or services.

However as a small business owner you probably don’t have access to a string of celebrities to endorse your products or services, so what can you do to generate an endless stream or endorsements and referrals?

In this post you will learn a simple seven step approach to creating strong referral relationships and generating an endless stream of referrals from other business owners, people who may never personally be in the market for your products or services but who know and can refer tens, hundreds or even potentially thousands of potential customers or clients for your business.

PART 1: Preparation

  1. Understanding your target market
  2. Identifying your referral partner pool
  3. Knowing your Unique Selling Proposition

PART 2: Implementation

  1. Creating your circle of trust
  2. Educating for conversion
  3. Having a referral strategy or system
  4. The best ways to say THANKS

PART 1: PREPARATION

1. KNOW YOUR CLIENTS/CUSTOMERS

The first step in developing your SMART referral strategy is being crystal clear on who are your target and niche market and your ideal customers or clients…  after all these are the people you want other people to refer to you, RIGHT?   And if you don’t know with complete and absolute certainty who they are – how can you expect other people to be able to refer them to you?

TARGET MARKET

Your target market is the group of people (individuals or businesses) that your products or services are aimed at.  If your target market are individual consumers (B2C) it can be broken down into segments that may include factors such as demographics, psychographics, income levels, and age levels. For example if you are a hairdresser your target market may be middle income women between the ages of 20 and 65 in a particular geographic location.

If your target market are businesses (B2B) it can be broken down into segments based on factors such as size of business, number of staff, type of business.  For example if you are a Human Resources consultant your target market may be businesses with between 10 and 50 staff which do not have their own internal HR department.

One of the most common mistakes I see new small business owners make is thinking that they have to have “everyone” or “all businesses” as their target market.  However contrary to what many people would like to believe, the whole world is not in the market for your products or services.  In the case of our HR Consultant, businesses with no staff don’t need them, and businesses with so many staff they have their own HR department probably don’t need them either.

Knowing and understanding your target market is absolutely critical to identifying the right referral partners to work with.

NICHE MARKET

Once you are clear on your target market it is even more helpful to define your clients or customers more tightly by identifying your niche market, sometimes known as your ideal client or avatar.

Your niche market, ideal client or avatar hones in on a particular subset of your target market.  Even if everybody in your target market CAN use your product or service, not everyone ever will, within every target market group there is a specific sub-group with an intense need or desire for the benefits you offer and a particular subset of people that you particularly enjoy working with and for whom your products or services are ideally suited.

Identifying your niche market enables you to find unique opportunities and tap into them. It gives you the information needed to focus on the buyers that are particularly interested in what you have to offer. This can save you both time and money and is absolutely critical in identifying and connecting with potential referral partners.

Of course you may have more than one niche market, however if you do, you will need to make sure that you have clearly defined them all, as they may be associated with completely different marketing strategies and different potential referral partners.

The clearer you are about your target market and the better defined your niche (or niches) then the easier you will find it to identify and attract the right referral partners, and to create truly powerful referral strategies.

2. YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION

Now you know who your ideal clients are, your next step is identifying your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) sometimes described as your unique value proposition, or brand promise.  It’s what sets you and your business — or you as an individual — apart from your competition.

Not having a USP at all, or having a wishy-washy unappealing USP is just as unlikely to attract quality referral partners as it is to attract new customers. After all, think about it for a moment… would you refer someone who has placed their trust in your opinion to someone with nothing special to offer?  Probably not, or if you did it would likely be with some reservations or disclaimers. When you are referring someone your brand and your reputation are directly tied to that referral.

Unfortunately most business people have never spent the time to think about their USP or Brand Promise, or if they have given it some thought they often stop before they have identified a genuinely unique point of difference; with claims like “we give great customer service”. Until you have identified and can articulate your Brand Promise in a way that truly speaks to your ideal clients, that lets them know that you truly understand and care about them and their problems, you will constantly be caught up in price negotiations and dealing with bargain hunters.

If you haven’t yet identified your USP or Brand Promise here are some questions to help you get started.   The best place to start is to think about why you started your business in the first place.

• Why do you do what you do? What is the difference you want to make in the world?

• What did you want to share with others as your business was developing in the very beginning?

• What was the gap in the market you planned to fill?

• Why would anyone want to buy your product or service as opposed to any other solutions to the same problem?

When you have clearly identified this information you will be at the heart of developing your own Brand Promise.

Let’s look at this a bit more closely.

There are lots of reasons why you may have gone into business – you wanted independence, to work your own hours, to have freedom of choice. The list is endless however you probably chose the particular business you did for one of two reasons:

1. You have a particular skill, passion or knowledge set that you wanted to share with the market place.

OR

2. You saw a specific gap in the market that you wanted to fill and you identified and developed a specific solution to fill that gap.

If your reason was the second you probably already know your Brand Promise and all you need to do is to refine and craft it to communicate your original vision. However if your reason was the first; wonderful, talented and passionate as you may be about what you do; you may not yet have a USP.  In this case you need to find or create one. Stop and think about what you could you do that would make you unique – go through the list below and see if there is something you could come up with that would make you unique. Don’t be afraid to narrow your market – you will attract FAR MORE customers within that market if they perceive you as being unique and special to them.

Let’s have a look at some of the possibilities:

  1. You may already have a genuinely unique product or service – no-one or nearly no-one else provides exactly the same product or service that you do or delivers the same benefits that your product or service does. Perhaps you were first to market with a particular product or service. Inventors and designers can often create unique selling propositions around the concept of one and only or first. Just remember to keep the focus on problems and solutions rather than features. What is the problem that your unique product or service is going to solve for your target market that no-one else solves?
  2. You may have a unique approach to offering a particular product or service. In this case while you may have quite a run of the mill business or profession with lots of competition, your Brand Promise makes you stand out for the way you deliver your products or services.

For example “The lawyer who makes house-calls” or “The real estate agent who lets you try out the house”(yes they do both exist!).  Again remember to focus on problems and solutions rather than features so if you are the lawyer who makes house-calls focus on the time your clients save, the convenience of having you go to them and the reduction in stress of having you on call when they need you.

  1. Your Brand Promise may also be based around the unique results you promise to deliver. The Fedex Brand Promise is a great example of this “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
  2. As an extension of this your Brand Promise may be based around the unique guarantee you offer should you fail to make good on your promise.  For example Dominos Pizza – “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”
  3. You may also be unique in relation to the particular target or niche market you service. Your business or profession may be quite unexceptional but what makes you stand out is that you specialise in servicing one small sector of the market. For example “The Business Coach for Tradies”.
  4. Finally you may be unique in relation to your geographic location. What you offer may be a dime a dozen in some locations but you may be the only business providing a particular product or service for a specific geographic location. This may be a country, a state, town, suburb or even a neighourhood.
  5. Something else? This list is not intended to be exhaustive, it is a prompt to get you thinking about how you can stand out from the crowd. The main thing is that you come up with something which is truly unique to you, however small that may be, as long as it is something that truly matters to your target market.
  6. Still Stuck?  If there really is nothing about your and your business that is genuinely unique.. and yes there are plenty of businesses in that situation. Think about what you could create or implement to make your business unique in some way.  It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive, often it’s the little things that make all the difference.

Think about this example for a moment…. there are two coffee shops on Main Street. Both serve great coffee, have a great atmosphere and outstanding customer service, and they both charge the same. But there is something unique and different about each of them.
In one coffee shop the baristas have all learned to draw great pictures in the froth on the top of the coffee, customers can choose their own pictures from a list or wait to be surprised (and delighted).
In the second coffee shop they give a meal to feed a hungry child in Africa every time you order a large coffee. Both are unique, and each coffee shop will attract its own set of clients based on what those clients value the most. Which coffee shop will you frequent? “The coffee shop with art” or “The coffee shop with heart”.

3. YOUR REFERRAL PARTNER POOL

The third step in creating a SMART referral strategy is identifying those business owners who are most likely to be able to effectively refer the right customers or clients to you.  Your ideal referral partners.

As you would have realised this will be a whole lot easier now you know your target and niche markets and your USP.

We’ve broken potential referral partners into FOUR categories to help you easily work out who you should be looking for.  The four categories are:

  1. Businesses in your supply chain
  2. Businesses who spot the problems that you solve.
  3. Businesses who share your niche (or target) market
  4. Your competition (yes it’s true!).

Let’s look at each of them in turn:

BUSINESSES IN YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN

People typically buy for one of two basic reasons

• To solve problems.

• To make themselves feel good (achieve a purpose).

A supply chain includes all of the businesses which are involved in the process of solving a particular problem or achieving a particular purpose. While bigger businesses may have branched out and covered all of the steps in the process, smaller businesses tend to specialise more and work with referral partners to ensure that all of the steps are covered off for their clients and customers.

1. A real estate agent, mortgage broker and settlement agent. Typically all three are needed for the problem of buying or selling a house to be solved.  The real estate agent selling a property will also typically involve a photographer and a videographer in developing the marketing campaign.  In a large real estate office or chain they may employ photographers or videographers but most smaller real estate offices will have either a direct or referral relationship with photographers and videographers they know and trust.

2. A hairdresser, manicurist and tanning salon. All three of those businesses may be needed for someone to achieve the purpose of “looking good”. Once again one often sees businesses which appear to offer all three services, however sometimes these are actually separate businesses who have structured their relationship to give the appearance of being one business to maximise the amount of work they receive from one another, and on other occasions these businesses may simply refer business to one another.

Now think about whether there are other products or services that your potential client needs in addition to yours to solve the problem or achieve the purpose that you help them with.  Not every business is part of a supply chain so don’t stress if you can’t think of any.. however if you can these are amongst the easiest referral partners to work with because often their clients will come right out and ask them.. “Can you recommend a good ….?”  The last time I bought a new house, once the contracts were signed the first question I asked the real estate agent was… “Can you recommend a good conveyancing company?” (and of course he could and did!)

BUSINESSES WHO SPOT THE PROBLEMS THAT YOU SOLVE

This question is for those of you who have products or services that solve problems. If you don’t solve problems then go right ahead and skip to the next question.  Who are the businesses or professions who see the problems that you solve?

The person with the problem may not have even realised that they had one! A good problem spotter working on your behalf will make sure that not only do they let them know that they have a problem but that they also point at you to solve it.

Case study

Here’s a quick case study to give you the idea….

The householder called in a pest exterminator to check for hidden pest problems under the house.  When the pest exterminator emerged from his inspection under the house he thoughtfully pointed out that there were some problems with the under-floor heating ducts – they’ve fallen down in places and there are some small holes in them.  When the householder asked if he know anyone who could help, the pest exterminator hands over a business card for his referral partner Jim from the Heating Servicing Company and said “Give Jim a call – and make sure you tell him I told you to ring. He’ll take good care of you!”

The householder is grateful that they have been alerted to a potentially serious unknown problem, and even more grateful that they have someone to call on who will be able to fix the problem.

More examples.

  • Bookkeepers can see when their clients  need a debt collector
  • Mechanics can when their clients need a panel beater or a car paint shop
  • Pool maintenance companies can see when their clients need a fencing contractor
  • Office cleaning companies can see the need for a window cleaner or a maintenance contractor.

As these businesses get bigger sometimes they will diversity to offer the additional services but typically smaller independent business owners who will be delighted to be able to help out their clients by referring them to someone who can help them with their problem.

And the clients will be delighted as well…

So think about all of the other businesses who are in a position to see the problems that you solve.

Oh and don’t forget that this works in reverse as well… which businesses can you be a problem spotter for?

WHO SHARES YOUR TARGET AND MORE SPECIFICALLY YOUR NICHE MARKET?

This is the question that will generate your longest list of potential alliance partners. Obviously it includes all of the people you have already listed but it includes a much bigger list as well.

Think about this case study for a moment….

A high end beauty spa whose target market is wealthy private school mums plans to open a second premises.  She approaches three luxury car dealerships in the area around her new day spa. She offers them a beautiful gift hamper and a gift voucher for a luxury day spa treatment to give to each client who buys a new car. The car dealerships are thrilled – they have a gorgeous gift to give to new clients and their wives/girl-friends, the car buyers are thrilled, and the day spa owner gets a steady stream of new clients to her new premises, many of whom went on to become repeat customers.  Obviously she would have given away a lot more gift hampers and gift vouchers if she had made the offer to every new and used car yard in the area rather than just the luxury car dealerships, but she would not have got nearly so many repeat customers.

And that is why it is so important that you truly understand your target and niche market. Otherwise you may end up with a VERY long list but MUCH LESS in the way of useful results, and it might even end up costing you money!

Start by identifying other interests your target market might have – commercially, socially, spiritually, sporting, recreation, leisure. What else do they do and where else do they spend their money? What kind of cars do they drive? Where do they holiday? Where do they eat out? If they have children – where do the children go to school?

What else do they spend money on?

If you are struggling with this question then it may be because you don’t know your target and niche markets well enough. Go back and more clearly define your ideal customers! You should know and understand them as well as you do your best friend and your family!!!

Now write a list of all those businesses which share your niche market as they will be your very best referral partners… then if you need to you can extend your list to include businesses which share your more general target market.

YOUR COMPETITORS (OR ARE THEY?)

Now is the time to be honest. Do you have the BEST solution for everyone in your target market? What if they are not in your niche, or your USP just doesn’t resonate with them?

It is better to send away a potential client than to do job that just doesn’t meet their needs or if they are not really the kind of client you do your best work for.

If you have done a good job of identifying your niche market and your USP this question will open up a world of potential referral partner opportunities. Who solves the same problems or helps people achieve the same purpose that you do but perhaps in a slightly different way, with a slightly different solution or in a different location, or with a slightly different skill set?  Think about business who either share the same target market but have a different niche, or businesses who share the same niche but have a different USP.

Case study

Last spring I received an offer in my letter box from a swimming pool supply company offering swimming pool water testing to get my pool ready for summer. They had obviously researched where all the pools were in their local area and targeted those houses.  It came in a zip lock bag with a bottle to put the water in to take to the pool company. Not a cheap piece of marketing.  What they didn’t know was that although I did indeed have a swimming pool I was actually looking for a swimming pool maintenance company to clean and maintain it.  Both the swimming pool chemical supply company and the pool maintenance company solve the problem of keeping a swimming pool clean – one provides the DIY solution and the other provides a more expensive done for you solution.  What a wasted opportunity, by working together they could have doubled the odds that one of them would get my business.  As it was I put the offer in the bin.
PART 2: IMPLEMENTATION

The first three steps in the SMART Referral Process are all about preparation

  1. Knowing your target and niche market
  2. Knowing your USP and
  3. Identifying your potential referral partners

Now it’s time to do something with all of that knowledge and start creating some referral partner relationships.

There are FOUR steps in the second part of the process…. We call it passing the referral partner TEST because the four steps make up the acronym T.E.S.T.

4. TRUST

The first T is for Trust.  I don’t know about you but I don’t give referrals lightly.  And we shouldn’t!  Give a referral and your business reputation goes along with it – good or bad!   So don’t expect other people to provide you with referrals without earning the right first.  And that means earning their trust. Obviously that means putting effort into developing a strong relationship but having coffees and being mates isn’t enough (or it shouldn’t be).  You also have to earn their confidence in your ability to deliver high quality products or services.  There are a number of ways you can go about doing this…. Here are SIX strategies to get you started:

THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE TRUST BUILDER

The Personal Experience Trust Builder involves inviting your potential referral partner to experience your products or services as a client. This is a no strings attached opportunity for them to experience exactly what it is you offer from the perspective of a client, with a view to them becoming a raving fan.

 

THE TRUSTED ADVISOR TRUST BUILDER

This strategy works particularly well if you have a particular potential referral partner that you would especially like to get on board but they have no personal need for your products or services.  In this case you offer your products or services to someone who is in the market for your products or services and is known and trusted by your potential referral partner. You then ask this “trusted advisor” to provide an introduction and testimonial to your potential referral partner.

THE ENDORSEMENT TRUST BUILDER

The Endorsement Trust Builder, like the Personal Experience Trust Builder, involves inviting your potential referral partner to experience your products or services, but this time from the perspective of a qualified reviewer. Your potential referral partner then goes on to write an endorsement or “review” of your products or services.  This works particularly well when your potential referral partner is recognised as an expert in some field related to your product or service.  As well as building your trust and credibility with your potential referral partner, this strategy has the added benefit of building credibility with potential leads and clients.

THE TESTIMONIAL BOOK TRUST BUILDER

The Testimonial Book Trust Builder involves creating a collection of testimonials that you can show to potential referral partners.  This strategy is obviously dependent on your having a collection of great testimonials from satisfied clients.  One way to speed up this process is to identify a number of your ideal clients and offer to provide your products or services at cost or even for free in return for testimonials (assuming they are completely happy, as you should make sure they are).  And if you’re smart then you’ll make sure that the people you are offering your special services to are also either potential referral partners or people with influence with others in your target market – you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.

THE PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION TRUST BUILDER

In this case you personally introduce one of your satisfied customers/raving fans to your potential referral partner so that they can hear first hand the benefits of doing business with you. This works especially well where your client and your potential referral partner are likely to “hit it off”.  The introduction might be informal, invite one or other of the parties to a place where you know you will run into the other party, or formal, perhaps invite both parties to lunch.

THE PRODUCT LAUNCH TRUST BUILDER

If you want to make a big hit with a number of potential referral partners at once, then consider the Product Launch Trust Builder. Invite your potential referral partners to an official launch event where they can see and experience your product or service in action and meet and talk to satisfied clients.  This has the added benefit of building excitement and urgency around becoming one of your referral partners.

5. EASY – EQUIP – EDUCATION – EXPERIENCE

The E in T.E.S.T stands for Easy OR Equip – making it easy for your referral partners by equipping them with tools which will help them send you qualified referrals.

The most common tools used by most small businesses working with referral partners are typically business cards, brochures and other forms of marketing material. There is nothing wrong with these and something as simple as a business card can work really well where the referral is really warm and ready to buy, in fact sometimes you don’t even need a business card.  When I asked my real estate agent for the name of a conveyancer, he simply said “Sure, I can introduce you to the one we use, would you like me to get him to call you?”  and of course I said Yes!

However not all potential referrals are that warm or that well qualified, and the relationship between your referral partner and the potential client is not always that strong.

And that’s where it helps to equip your referral partners with powerful tools to get the job done.

Typically these tools fall into two broad categories:

  1. Education and
  2. Experience.

EDUCATION TOOLS

Suppose you are at a networking event, you happen to mention in casual conversation to a real estate agent who you haven’t met before that you are thinking of re-mortgaging your house in order to get some renovations done.   Now she could say that she knows a good mortgage broker and give you his card and you may or may not follow up on that recommendation, after all you hadn’t met the real estate agent before that night and you don’t know how well she knows the mortgage broker. How much more likely would you be to follow through on the recommendation and how much more likely would you be to actually use the mortgage broker if, in the next day or two you received a book in the mail from the real estate agent “Ten things you need to know when thinking about re-mortgaging” with a note saying… “Lovely to meet you the other night, I thought you might find this book handy, it’s been written by a friend of mine who’s a specialist in re-mortgaging. I’ve included their contact details and I know they’d be really happy to give you some handy advice, no obligation. Happy to put you in touch.”

It doesn’t have to be a book: it could be a booklet, a CD, DVD, website link, e-book, whitepaper; whatever will work best in your industry and your niche.  Education tools like this which build your credibility, while making your referral partner look good at the same time with not only make it easier for your referral partners to send you more qualified leads, it will also increase the likelihood that those leads will convert to customers or clients.

What education tools do you have or can you develop to equip your referral partners and make it EASY for them to refer an endless stream of potential clients your way?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

The Make the Right Choice Educator

The idea here is to provide a special report or Frequently Asked Questions sheet on how to go about choosing the best solution to a particular problem. (Obviously the problem that you solve!)
E.g. “Ten Things to Look for when Choosing an Accountant”

The How To Educator

The objective here is to provide a self help solution to the problem that you solve, along with a section pointing out the pitfalls and problems involved in implementing the self help solution.
E.g. “Ten Things You Need To Know To Organise Your Own Wedding Reception”

The Problem Warning Educator

In this tool the idea is to provide a list of risks or things to watch out for when faced with a particular problem or need.
E.g. “Ten Ways to Know if Your Accountant is Losing you Money ”

The Diagnostic Educator

In this case provide your referral partner with some sort of checklist or diagnostic tool that enables potential leads to determine (i) if they have a problem and (ii) if so what kinds of solutions they should be looking for.
E.g  “Complete this ten question questionnaire to tell if your website is working for you”

EXPERIENCE TOOLS

The Complimentary Service Experience

The idea here is to equip your referral partner with the opportunity to give their lead an actual no strings attached experience of your products or services.  It should not be a problem to work out whether this is a good solution for you if you know the lifetime value of a customer. E.g. a hairdresser could offer a complimentary colour and style to every new client who is referred by their referral partners.  A great way to make both the new client and the referral partner feel special.

The Free Trial Experience

The Free Trial Tool is Experience is very similar to the Complimentary Service Tool however, instead of offering a one time product or service in this case you offer a time limited trial experience with your compliments especially because they have been referred by your Referral Partner.

The Special Event Experience

In this case you run regular special invitation only private viewings, special education events or similar to which people referred by your referral partners are invited. What happens at these events will obviously depend on the products or services you offer.  It could be an education evening, a demonstration or an experience. Once again the idea is to make the person feel special, and to demonstrate your credibility and expertise.  The sales will follow.

6. SYSTEMS AND STRATEGIES

The S in Referral Strategy T.E.S.T. stands for systems and strategies.

How often have you invested time in building a relationship with a potential referral partner, maybe you’ve even given them, brochures, a website link and a bundle of your books to hand out and then nothing happens.  Or perhaps you have been the referral partner, you’ve agreed to refer business to someone you know like and trust, but somehow you never spot anyone to refer and nothing ever happens.

Good referral partnerships are built around SYSTEMS that make it SUPER easy for your referral partners to refer to you.

Think about those business owners that you do regularly refer business to.  What is it about them that makes referring business to them easy?

Some of the things that probably spring to mind include:

  1. They make it easy for you to refer clients to them by providing you with tools and strategies which are easy, quick and comfortable for you to implement. (We’ve discussed these in the previous section.
  2. They maintain themselves at the top of your awareness by continuing to stay in touch and nurturing your relationship with them, we sometimes call that TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness)
  3. They make it easy for you to recognise potential clients for them by keeping you informed and educated as to what they do, what benefits they provide and what problems they solve.
  4. They continue to build your trust that they do the right thing by clients you refer to them by keeping you informed of the outcomes of your referrals.

Obviously all of the things we discussed in the previous section Easy and Equip can be included in your referral partner system, particularly in relation to item 1, but it doesn’t stop there.

What systems or strategies do I have or can I put in place that will cover off points 2, 3 and 4 above?

 

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Ensure that whatever you decide upon, that you include things that will help your Referral Partners stay informed and educated about your business and what makes a good lead or referral for you.  E.g. Keep your referral partners informed about the progress of all their referred leads and let them know which ones were ideal, or NOT, and why.

  • Have a regular Referral Partner Communication system – postcards, thank you cards, newsletter; ezine; Blog
  • Include a section on case studies, success stories and testimonials in your regular communications with referral partners.
  • Meet regularly with your referral partners on a one on one basis.
  • Run Referral Partner Get-togethers or even Information Events.
  • Invite your referral partners to be a part of your unofficial “Board of Directors” or advisory committee so that they are closely involved with your ongoing business success
  • Give them checklists of things to look out for or diagnostic tools for identifying a good potential lead for your business.
  • Run competitions and loyalty programs that they can get involved in.
  • Have a special Referral Partner section on your website where they can see the status of leads that they have referred to you.
  • Send them copies of testimonials and success stories from clients that they and other referral partners have referred.
  • Keep them informed of your business successes, awards and the like.

7. THANKS

The last but certainly not the least important aspect of maintaining strong referral partnerships is recognising, acknowledging and thanking your referral partners for what they do for you.

Here it is important to recognise that not all referral partners are the same and that each of them may be driven by different values and motives. It is important that you have a flexible strategy in place to recognise, reward and thank your referral partners for referring business to you, whether or not the lead converts to a sale.

Remember too that, while in an ideal world you may want to refer business back to your referral partners this is not always possible.  Referral Partner relationships don’t have to work both ways, in those cases where you cannot refer business back for some reason, look for other ways to thank and recognise your referral partners.

Set aside money in your marketing budget to thank and recognise your referral partners (and the clients who refer business to you). After all they are saving you money on advertising!

What strategies do I have, or can I put in place to recognise, reward and thank my referral partners (and my clients) who refer business to me?

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Thank you cards or gifts
  • Referral payments
  • Charity donations on behalf of your referral partners
  • Take them out to lunch or dinner
  • Recognition in your newsletter, in your place of business, on your website
  • Why not have a Referrer of the Month Award?
  • Throw a special “Referral Partner Recognition” party or other event.
  • Bonuses or special complimentary services either that your referral partner can use personally or give to someone that they want to thank specially.

WRAPPING UP

Direct referrals are just one way that you can work collaboratively with other small business owners… Check out SMART Connect Events to find  out how to work with other small business owners to use strategies such as:

  • Shared marketing
  • Host beneficiaries
  • Joint ventures and partnerships
  • Affiliate programs
  • Recognized expert strategies and more

to help you:

  • Generate more leads
  • Improves conversions
  • Increase you average $ sale and number of sales per customer
  • And even reduce your costs and overheads

 

Til next time…

Brenda Thomson

Brenda Thomson

CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group

Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business. 

Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.

Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference.  She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.

0 Comments

Pin It on Pinterest