The Secret to Getting Referrals Through Your Professional Contacts
This is a guest post written by Jeni Cantley Harrington. Want to contribute? Check out the 2016 publishing calendar.
In the marketing world, it is a well-known fact that referrals are the highest form of any lead. In fact, they typically convert to new business at a rate of 50% or more. In your circle of influence you probably have at least a handful of these referral partners, but the referrals coming in are likely slow or inconsistent. So, how can you encourage more referrals from these valuable relationships? It’s a game of give and give more. It may seen counter-intuitive, but it works. Here are four ways to consitently get client leads from you referral partners.
Related Teleclass: 5 Steps to Unlimited Clients Referrals
The email marketing swap
Your referral partners are likely in the same boat as you—they need more clients. You each have a database of clients and prospects. Open up the flow of contacts by offering to put space in your newsletter for them to contribute an article or offer to push a dedicated email on their behalf to your list. In any partnership you have to give to get and they will most likely reciprocate. Emails are cheap and effective. Give them some suggestions of what you think your clients would like to know and maybe an initial offer or incentive to impact conversion.
Social collaboration – propel online word of mouth marketing
Chances are you manage a Facebook page and so does your partner. Offer to post something about their business, service, an upcoming event or even a special offer or incentive on your page. Or simply start sharing their blog content on your page. The more you are willing to post a variety of tidbits about them, the quality of their work and what they can provide to your followers, the more it benefits all parties. You’re not only helping your partner, you are providing your audience with good advice and credible recommendations. Your partner will value the exposure and effort and will most likely return the favor.
The collaborative meet & greet – networking
Discuss about doing a lunch and learn with your referral partner(s), a morning breakfast or a cocktail hour to meet and greet each other’s clients or prospects. Have a brief agenda to inspire (not sell) to the audience. Don’t worry. The selling will come.
You each can take a few minutes at a joint event to inspire your audience by sharing your expertise. For example, if you're a business coach, offer some advice on how to build more value and keep a watchful eye on particular economic forecasts. Or if you’re a life coach, share your top 3 strategies for identifying goals for personal fulfillment. Keep it short and light—these events should be low-commitment for the attendees, but should provide them with enough valuable advice to give you credibility. Socialize and meet as many people as you can after the presentation. But don’t just talk yourself up in these conversations—talk up the partner who helped make this event happen.
Place a subtle offer for a free consult to any participant if they book a time before they leave that day. You can keep it subtle by having them throw a business card in a fishbowl or place a signup sheet on a table near the exit. Having this in place is critical, so by the end of the event you know exactly how productive it was.
Your goal is securing a meeting, not booking the sale on this day. You need more time to get to know the prospect and respect your partner’s relationships with them. People have to get to know you, and feel comfortable with who you are and what you do.
The workshop, webinar or educational venue
Host your own formal event and ask referral partners to come and speak. Encourage them to also invite their own contacts to attend either for free or at a reduced rate because they are contributing to the content of your event. Your partner will appreciate the exposure and will gladly inform their database. You can also encourage them to allow their clients to bring a friend or associate along.
If budget is tight for running an event, finding a referral partner who will donate the space would be ideal or channel your own network—maybe you have a contact with a restaurant or catering business. See what they are willing to do if you actively promote them during the event. Be sure to market them to the degree of wowing them. Onsite marketing or highlighting them as a sponsor in all the marketing channels leading up to the event doesn’t cost you a dime. In fact, it may even save you some cash.
In the end, getting more referrals or consistent referrals from partners takes time, effort and a systematic process. Once you find which of the above strategies works for each partner, it should be a simple process of wash, rinse and repeat.
And don’t forget, each time you get a referral be sure to thank them appropriately. Gratitude garners respect and encourages them to want to find you more referrals.
About Jeni Cantley Harrington
Jeni Cantley Harrington is the owner of Clientraction, a marketing outsource service for coaches and business advisors. She has helped over 1,000 consultants with their marketing strategy and implementation methods to save you time, money, and missed opportunities. Connect with Jeni through her website, Facebook or Twitter.
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