27 Sep Give and ye shall receive . . . . .referrals
The rules of referrals have changed a lot in recent years. Where referrals used to be reactive, informal, occasional, non-exclusive and personal, they are now proactive, formal, strategic, exclusive, and commercial/organisational, with organisations increasingly locking themselves into to strategic alliances with other professionals and providers to their target market.
One golden rule of referrals that remains, however, is that those that give more, usually get more. The logic of this is quite simple: by giving referrals you not only generate gratitude (and greed?), but also raise awareness, which in turn leads to reciprocity.
It’s a shame therefore that so many organisations seem to exhaust their time and energy on different approaches to ‘getting’ referrals before they look at how they can give more and better referrals. Here are a few ideas:
1) Listen for referral needs
Use any customer/client discussions to try and identify needs that others could help with. Every client presents an opportunity for you to refer them to someone else. Every referral out can prompt at least one referral back in. Grab your opportunities.
2) Listen for client skills and expertise
At the same time, find out more about what your customers and clients (domestic and commercial) do for their clients. Could they help any of your other clients? Would they appreciate a referral?
3) Build a database of service providers
You’re not going to remember everything, so build a database of contacts that can help your clients. The fact that you know and can recommend someone who can help with ‘XXX’, will build your trusted advisor status as well.
4) Give high quality referrals.
Don’t just throw a name out there:
explain why your client can be confident in going to them.
provide contact details directly (via email or card)
connect people on LinkedIn
(or best of all) ask whether it is OK for the person or business you are referring to call your client (then set this up)
5) Tell the person you’ve referred right away
Provide as much information as possible about the prospect, and any relevant information about the product or service the prospect is looking for.
Touch base with both parties (referrer and referred) to check if they are doing business and are happy.
7) Performance-manage the giving of referrals
Encourage your staff to give high quality referrals, and measure how many are given, and any reciprocation.
8) Enquiries re other services
As specialisation grows, many organisations receive enquiries about work they don’t do or products they don’t offer. These are golden opportunities and provide you with an opportunity to refer to someone else. These relationships are best managed in the form of strategic alliances with the aim being to receive an enquiry back for every referral you send out.
9) Be strategic
Be strategic about where you send your referrals. If you have provided a number of high quality referrals to ‘X’, but received nothing in return, something is not working. Find out why, and consider sending referrals somewhere else. Make sure you get a return on your referral-giving investment.