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Two strategies guaranteed to increase the effectiveness of your referral network
By Brenda Thomson
How many people in your network have agreed to refer business to you and haven’t followed through. Perhaps you are not making it easy enough for them. Here are two ideas guaranteed to increase the value of your referral networks.
The most common tools most small businesses give their 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
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.
Learn more about how to use education tools to grow your business in A 5 step system to become the go-to person in your market no matter what you sell.
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. Perhaps a complementary service, a free trial, special invitation only private viewings, special education events or demonstrations. The idea is to make the person feel special, and to demonstrate your credibility and expertise. The sales will follow.
For more information on creating referral relationships that really work read Seven steps to referral partnership that deliver real results
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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.