Seems like everything I had been told about getting referrals was WRONG. For example:
- The best source of referrals is from your growing list of satisfied customers.
- Doing an excellent job and providing great customer service is the most assured way to get referred.
- This is where we all should be spending most of our time to assure a nice stream of steady referrals.
I knew I was right.
Boy, was I WRONG.
I learned that satisfied customers are “a” source of referrals but hardly the best when something else is 10…20…50 times better. At first I thought “Really, 50 times better than a satisfied customer? I doubt that!”
Boy, was I WRONG again.
Referrals from satisfied customers have their short comings:
- First, doing and great job with good value and excellent customer service is really what the customer was PAYING you for. You seldom deserve (or get) a referral for doing something you were paid to do.
- Customers often are not engaged with your new prospect right at the critical time they are making to decision who to buy your service/product from.
- They are often not viewed as a “reliable source” but more of a “consumer”. Example: who would you bet your pool repair/refinishing on….your neighbor who says Mr. XXX did a great job or you pool cleaner who doesn’t even own a pool…but has seen 15 refinishing jobs by Mr. XXX, 12 of which he says were total junk, overpriced hack jobs.
- It is hard to train your customer on what to say about you, hence you don’t know what they are saying or even who they are saying it to, when they said something or even if they said anything or if they said the right or wrong thing.
- You seldom know who was referred by who and for what reason as the referring party doesn’t often get back to you that they mentioned you.
- There is little incentive for most customers to want to refer you.
So what you end up with is that your “best” source of referrals, the one you spend most of your time cultivating being is...
...a customer who is not inclined or greatly incented to refer you to begin with, who seldom is in the right place at the right time to do so, is not viewed an “expert” with great experience to advise, and when they do say something you seldom know who said what to who, when, why or if the right thing was said to the right person at all. What a haphazard, un predictable, un-trackable, un-repeatable and un-scalable process.
I am glad the airlines I use don’t run their engine maintenance business that way. You shouldn’t run your referral business that way either.
If only you could find...
- … someone (or some business) that does see 10, 20, 50 times the opportunities of the average customer to refer you business…
- …who is with the customer at the Trigger Event (TE) / Critical Decision Point (CDP)…
- …who does have a great deal of authority and credibility…
- …who knows your business, your strengths, who your ideal client is and what to say to them…
- …who uses technology to report back to you who they referred, when, why, and what the prospect needs including the prospect contact info for you to follow up with…
- …and the list goes on…
Well, if you haven’t guessed, this “best” source is a:
- Business or professional
- Who serves your same customer base
- With a non-competing product or service
- Sees 10, 20, 50 times the opportunity to send you a referral than your average customer
- Is doing business at or near the time the client needs a service/product you provide
- Who has credibility when recommending a business like yours
- Businesses who understand that it makes them more valuable to their customer and competitive in their market place if they help solve these needs of their customer with referrals to businesses like yours.
- A business or professional that provides a service that your customers often ask for so that you can bring more value and be more competitive by referring him to help solve your customer’s needs.
Studies have shown that a few business relationships like that described above produces more referrals, promotes your business more often and improves your personal branding more than hundreds of “satisfied” customers who really have no incentive to promote your business.
When you recognize that a referral exchange relationship, not with just any businesses, but an ideally matched business partner is by far the “best” source for building a steady stream of productive, well qualified business referrals, you have ask yourself, where are you spending your time trying to grow you referral business? Trying to educate, ask, call back again, paying for “I am never too busy to accept a referral” cards, and asking again….(we are getting close to begging here)…for referrals from dozens or even hundreds of your satisfied customers?
You will find it much more productive to focus on a handful of professional, highly motivated, well educated, credible businesses and professionals who see many, many more opportunities to send you well qualified referrals. Business relationships where each of you help each other’s customers and in turn help the both of you bring more value and be more competitive.
It is like the difference of an oil refinery buying a barrel of oil or buying an oil well. If both cost the same and take the same amount of effort, which do you think will produce more gasoline?
How do I find these "Ideal" referral sources to build a large productive Win-Win-Win (you, your referral partern and the customer) referral network?
With a certain amount of self-interest but also a huge amount of goodwill and total honesty, we don’t know of a better, free suite of tools and complete networking platform than right here at www.B4BNetworks.com.
Where else can you be paired with ideally matched business partners and referral sources that serve your same customer base with synergistic but non-competing products and services? Be given a complete blogging system to help share your expertise, grow your exposure and personal branding while learning networking best practices (like that above). Provided with a business networking platform to invite your existing network enjoy as well all while building goodwill, bringing greater value and staying top of mind with your growing number of productive business referral sources?
Welcome to B4BNetworks. We are happy to count you as one of our founding members and we hope you share this unique networking platform with your entire existing business network (invite them to join your professional referral network you are building on B4Bnetworks) while we work to grow your network with ideally matched business partners and referral sources.
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