Most marketers are clear about targeting their marketing and advertising messages. but when it comes to referrals it seems that notion is no longer valid.
The thing is, we all want referrals, but what we really want are referrals and introductions that fit, that match what we consider our ideal client profile.
And here’s the other thing, our referral sources often are equally enthusiastic about providing referrals, but when we don’t help them understand how to do this in the best possible way, we make their job that much more difficult.
You need to think in terms of an education process for referral sources, be they clients or strategic partners, just as you think in terms of educating prospective clients.
Michael has consistently advised an approach that mandates that you get very, very specific about who does and does not make an ideal client for your business and during this conversation we talk about how to bring your “red velvet rope policy” to the generation of referrals.
Your referral sources need to know the following five things.
1) How would I spot your ideal client?
Describe your ideal client in such detail that most would have a hard time not identifying at least a handful of people that fit perfectly. Or better still, identify several actual prospective individuals or companies to use as examples. The more detail, including the types of pain or challenge they might be facing, the better prepared your referral sources are to make the right introductions.
2) How would I best describe why they should hire you?
Hopefully you have a very clear understanding of this first. I often refer to this as your value proposition or why us. Give your referral sources the actual words to use to describe how you are different from everyone else that says they do what you do.
3) What are some common trigger phrases I should listen for?
Whether you sell siding or software people probably don’t sit around with friends and discuss how they long for some siding or software. You’ve probably discovered that people talk about the problems in their lives and you’ve got to be good at translating that into the need for what you do. So, someone might say, “I sure hate painting my house every other year” or “my accountant is all over me because we can’t ever produce accurate sales reports.” These are what I call trigger phrases and you should produce a solid list of the actual things a hot prospect might say and provide this list to your sources.
4) What is your follow-up process?
Go ahead and tell your sources exactly how you intend to follow up and exactly how you would like them to be involved. This helps turn a lead into an introduction and set their mind at ease that you have a professional and valuable follow-up process rather than a hunt and kill approach.
5) What’s in in for me?
This last one may take many forms and only in rare instances would I suggest some form of monetary incentive. It is a good idea however to reinforce two things – why this is a valuable thing for them to do and how much your appreciate it. Often times connecting referral generation with non profit support or allowing them win something related to your business makes a lot of sense and can add some fun to the process.
You can create a one sheet document, web page or just informally address each in a meeting, but the key is to make it easy for your referral sources to do what they quite naturally want to do.