I can’t tell you how many instances have occurred at training, coaching and meetings that I have been told ‘it takes a long time’ to build up referral source relationships to the point where they start referring consistently. That is completely false and a way to personally guarantee individual mediocrity. For the purposes of this post, referral sources are other business professionals and social influencers that you wish to have produce referrals from you on a predictable and consistent basis. A great example would be a copier sales person and a commercial mover in the B2B space.
People wanting to generate quick and consistent referral results from referral sources need to step back and evaluate what causes and motivates people to refer to others. Referrals can happen quickly and consistently if you focus on what you and your referral source want and, most importantly, whether you are both willing to deliver on those wants.
Before we go into what leads to referral sources deciding to refer you, let’s back up and deal with another self limiting belief: That the secret to getting people to refer you is to have them like, know and trust you. Wow…do any of us actually refer people we don’t like? Professionals that we don’t know at all? People that we don’t trust? Of course not, those are all prerequisites to referring, but, how do you measure those qualities/standards?!?
Here is some reality for you…it is really hard to measure emotion consistently when it comes to predictably generating referral production. Listen carefully, we are not saying that emotion isn’t important, or, that is not a critical factor in the referral process. The challenge is that if you are trying to meet an unqualified standard when developing referral sources…you are never going to be able to reach your potential referral profitability with consistency.
So, how do we find out what standard to meet? We ask each and every referral source where we stand with them reference their comfort and willingness to refer ‘on purpose.’ Sound crazy? We know, how weird it is to actually ask where you stand with a referral source. Look at it this way: If they are never going to be comfortable referring you, you want to find that out as soon as possible. The referral sources that will be most productive are often the ones that appreciate transparent dialogue the most.
Take it out of subjective and put it into objective. This doesn’t make you a crass or cold ‘shark’ networker. I would argue with all my professional conviction and personal passion that if you aren’t taking the time and effort to make sure you are doing well with your referral sources because you are worried about how they would ‘feel’ when you asked them…that you are actually the ‘cold’ networker. People that really care about others will have the courage to be vulnerable and ask what they can do better.
Now that we have slain that wooly mammoth of ‘marketing to the prerequisites instead of what you want’…let’s get to the good stuff.
The length of time it takes to have a person produce referrals consistently is directly correlated to the amount of value they perceive for them and their clients in your referral process. We have seen numerous examples of almost immediate referral production from new relationships and one thing is consistent: They wanted to refer.
That is the key: What makes that person want to refer you? Is it that they were referred to you in a particular manner? Was it how you described your client process to that professional sales person that convinced her/him that you had a process that displayed your trustworthiness and integrity? (hint: for many professionals, they are far more concerned with your process for sales than what you actually sell. How you sell is more dangerous than what you sell when it comes to protecting their relationship with the person referred to you)
So, to wrap it up:
1. Stop believing the myth that it takes a ‘long’ time to get referrals from others.
2. Stop trying to meet unmeasurable 'fuzzy' and or/emotionally based goals when it comes to relationship development…make the subjective into objective.
3. Figure out what the referral source wants, and whether or not you are able/willing to do that and you will then reap massive gains as a result by focusing on what you CAN do.
All the best,