As one of the most effective ways to bring in new business, referrals are an essential tool for brokers looking to get ahead of the pack.
Too many professionals pay referral processes lip service at best. You need structures around referrals and consistency of focus with support from robust processes and systems.
Know your market and your value
A key goal of a referral marketing strategy is to inspire others to talk positively about you. Educate your referral partners so that they can identify, qualify and prime good prospects for you. It is critical that you can succinctly describe what you do, how you do it, who you do it for and how you compete.
This might sound like a statement of the obvious but if your potential referral sources don’t trust you then you have a problem.
Proactively build your networks
A networking structure has three essential components – information networks, support networks and, of course, a referral network. By applying such a structure you are better able to identify the right sources for each category as well as identify gaps in your networking system.
Look beyond clients
There is no doubt that a referral from a satisfied client is very powerful but you need to go broader and deeper into your networks.
Look into businesses that complement yours, businesses who benefit from your business, others you do business with, your staff, people you’ve referred to others and business referral groups.
Train your referral sources
Your chances of success are greatly increased if your referral sources are trained to: make initial contact with the prospect; prime the prospect; provide the prospect with information about you; arrange to personally introduce you; and follow up with the prospect after you have made contact.
Reward your referral sources
When you are provided with a referral think about the great sales job your source has done and thank them appropriately. Don’t underestimate the value of recognising the people who send you business.
Target-setting drives focus and application. You need to establish a goal around the percentage of your business that you expect to get from referrals, then work out the dollar value of the referrals you expect to get, the number of referrals you expect to get and finally the number of referral sources you’ll need to achieve those targets.
An effective referral marketing plan should be measuring networking activity, referrals received (from which sources) and closed business.
Ask for referrals
Again, this statement might seem obvious but the facts are that most professionals don’t ask for referrals. When should you ask a client for a referral? When they acknowledge that you have delivered value. Be conscious of the deposits you make into your relationships before you start writing cheques.
Neil Kafer is Director of business development consultancy Boost Your BD. Phone 0407 773 218 or visit boostyourbd.com.au