In doing some investigating and research for this article, I found that there are some pretty standard “keys” to building a referral business. Most of them are rather boring and extremely generic. As I read several articles on the subject, I found myself wondering what really makes a referral based marketing business work. You see, it seems to me that there are some people that are really good at it (seemingly without much effort) and there are those who try really hard and seem to struggle terribly.
So, what are the real “keys” to building a referral based business? I found five that I would like to propose here:
- Be yourself! Nobody wants to refer you to their family, friends, or business associates if they see you as “fake” or someone putting on a show. By being yourself, you may not be able to work with everyone. But think of it this way, if someone doesn’t like you for who you are then they will likely leave you as soon as they find someone in your industry that they do like! Be yourself.
- Don’t overplay your hand! We all have abilities and talents that make us good at what we do. If someone asks you to do something outside your abilities, just say no! Now in saying no, you might well be able to point these referrals in the direction of someone who can help. Those you re-refer will appreciate your honesty and will look forward to doing business with you when they need what you are good at!!
- Be flexible. Take time to really listen to the referral and find out exactly what they are looking for. So many people today go into a meeting with a pre-planned package of information that may not serve them well. When you listen closely to those referred to you and answer their questions and meet their needs, not only will they work closely with you, but they will also become referrers of your service to others!
- Do what you promised and do it when you promised. Delays are at times inevitable, but you must serve these referral clients as if the life of your business depended upon them. (And in many ways it does.) Remember these referrals came to you by the recommendation of someone else. If you don’t handle them properly they may not be willing to expand your referral network, but they may report back to the one who referred them causing these first referrers to leave your referral group as well!
- Create a follow-up system that never looses a client/customer between the cracks. When your past and current client base know that they are well respected and are always aware of new things you can do for them, not only will they use you again and again, they will refer you to everyone they know who needs your products/services.
This is my list, now what have you done that could add to this list?