The goal of any referral relationship is to pass quality referrals so it stands to reason that if you know exactly who you want to do business with, your referral partners will deliver you better quality referrals. Quality over quantity wins every day in my book.
Let’s start by talking about the ease of closing a referral. BNI founder and Chief Visionary Officer, Dr Ivan Misner talks about the 5 levels of a referral in this article. Each level builds on the previous with the fifth level being the kind of referral we all want to receive.
Level 1: Name and contact information.
Level 2: Supplementary material.
Level 3: Share experience.
Level 4: Introductory call and/or arrange a meeting.
Level 5: In-person introduction and promotion.
But think about how much easier it is going to be to generate level 4 and 5 referrals if your referral partner knows exactly who you want to do business with – and why. This entails being able to build a clear picture for your referral partner(s) about how you help your Target Market and the outcomes you will achieve for them. Of course, the best way to teach this is by using stories, because as we all know facts ‘tell’ but stories ‘sell’.
Like any story, you need to construct these stories with a beginning, middle and end. In the referral context, the beginning is the problem that your target market faces. You then move on to how you identify the solution for the client, your processes, pricing, timelines and expectations. You’d also outline what you need from your client – documentation, resources, number of meetings and so on. You then highlight the outcomes for your Target Market concluding with the tangible and measurable results that you achieved.
The best way to find these stories is to think about the past 10 clients that came to you. These clients will hold all the information you need to teach your referrals partners how you became the indispensable ‘go-to’ person in their business. When teaching our partners, back these stories up with any visual aids, appropriate documentation and written testimonials (never underestimate the power of a testimonial and if you can get them to use the SODAR method, even better).
But none of this matters if you are not clear on exactly who you want to do business with. Specificity is the key to success in business and even more so in the world of referral generation. So you have to know your Target Market – you have to clearly paint the picture using stories demonstrating how you have helped your ideal client.
Time and time again I hear people respond in fear that if they narrow down their referral requests, or more specifically if I get them to be laser focussed on defining their Target Market, that they will miss out on all the other clients they can help.
My friend and colleague, Hazel Walker talks often about how she coached Joanie, a real estate agent from Las Vegas. Joanie started her career selling to ‘everyone’ and found herself working endless hours getting nowhere fast. Hazel helped her to define her Target Market and eventually, Joanie became the ‘go-to’ realtor for Surgeons in the Vegas area. Needless to say, Joanie never knocked back the plethora of lawyers, GP’s, nurses and so on who also came her way as a result of being focused on her surgeon Target Market. Joanie’s business grew so well that she was able to build a team that she could pass these referrals onto, ensuring that she would still be able to generate revenue for multiple sources and concentrate on supporting her lucrative specialist surgeons who spent significant dollars on buying multiple properties from her.
Joanie moved from working all the time and earning very little, to working part-time and earning more than she ever dreamed of. But this only happened because Joanie accepted that being laser specific about who she wanted to work with was the only way she could move forward. Most people I come across are like Joanie – they work really hard selling every8hting they can to everyone that comes their way.
The people I associate with who I perceive as the most successful in their business are always very focused on a clearly defined core Target Market and they service that market well and as a result are able to generate revenues from these clients that more people ever dream of. Think about your life and the most successful people around you – I would hazard a guess that they are very clearly working with a defined Target Market. Specific is definitely terrific in business.
So, let’s come back to teaching referral partners about your Target Market. Does it now stand to reason that the clearer you are about who you want to work with and the outcomes you will get for them, the easier it will be for people to introduce you to these clients and isn’t it more likely you will be receiving Level 4 and 5 referrals?
Implicit in the higher-level referral is a high degree of effort. People will only go that extra mile if they are clear about who it is you are wanting to connect with (and the reasons why). Think about the referrals you have given. If you’re not really clear about whether if this is a great referral, you don’t put in a lot effort, do you? A quick call or email and the requisite contact details is probably all you’ll muster up. But when you know you can connect someone to their dream referral, you’re going to go that extra mile.
The last piece of this puzzle, of course, is that fact that you need to sit down and train your referral partners. Think of this in the same way as you would train any salesperson in your business. I’ll cover this concept further in next week’s piece.
If you are looking for great referrals to your dream customer, the very first step you need to take is to clearly define your Target Market. Not only is it easier to train your referral partners, but you’ll spend less time explaining yourself and get more impactful introductions that are easier to close and we all want business to be easier and more valuable. How well are you training your referral partners on your Target Market?