One of the key ways small business owners in the service sector get business is through referrals – either from customers or from strategic introducers they know well.
But many of us are not very good at requesting referrals or managing the referral process. We often don’t even know the value of a good referral to our business.
In fact, how many of the referrals you get are of the type you want? Or do you end up meeting with prospects, which have been referred to you by a ‘good’ referral partner (by good I mean someone we feel knows our business needs), only to find that they are not the type of prospect you need at all?
Unless we take some level of control over the referral process it is unlikely we will get exactly the type of introductions we need.
One way of taking control is to build really solid relationships with a few referral partners who are regularly updated on they type of business you need – and similarly keep you updated on the business they need. That way you are more likely to get the leads you need.
You can even take it further and include these guys as part of your team. I have this type of relationship with a marketing expert. If one of our clients needs what the other offers we introduce them in a joint meeting (which is free to the client). We discuss their needs, and offer a way forward for the client, after identifying the key areas they need to address.
This is a very powerful model because everyone benefits. The referrer benefits because they are seen as a problem solver who can find solutions beyond their area of expertise by their client; the referree benefits because they have a solid introduction to a potential new client; and the client obviously benefits because their problems are solved with the minimum of effort.
So, if you are looking to grow you business in a controlled manner, review how you get your referrals and work on how you can get a higher quality of introductions.