Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software

The Number One Mistake People Make When It Comes To Referral Marketing

Marketing podcast with Bill Cates

Subscribe now via iTunes

Everyone loves referrals, but let’s face it – the real point of a referral is a customer. If you’re getting plenty of referrals, but few are turning into new clients, it’s time to change a few things about your approach to referrals.

referral introduction

photo credit: Jeremy Wilburn via photopin cc

The number one mistake people make in the business of referral generation is to ask for leads or referrals when they should be asking for introductions.

So many people seek referrals by simply asking clients, or anyone that will listen, if they know anybody who needs what they do. If the referral source can come up with a few names we’re often tickled to have some new “leads” to go chase.

But, what do we really have? Something less than cold call – maybe. Sure, we can name drop, “Bob said I should call you.” But, we’ve all been on the other end of that call and know how that usually ends up.

If you want to make referral generation a significant part of your marketing success you need to start asking for introductions and not simply a list of names. You need to build the trust and leverage that would allow you to ask a client to introduce you to three others that could benefit from the value you bring.

In this week’s episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visit with Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now and the upcoming Beyond Referrals. Bill has spent many years coaching financial professionals on the fine art of authentic referral generation and in this segment he shares some well tested tactics.

The key to generating introductions is to make it as easy as possible for your referral source to do so. Offer a list of specific prospects you would like to meet and see if they know anyone on the list. Offer to host an informal educational workshop and allow your best customers to bring a friend or two. Take a handful of customers to lunch and ask them each to bring a guest.

Cates mentions a former client that would ask his clients to introduce him to two colleagues who would take his call just because they asked them to.

Getting your customers or contacts to rise to the level of engagement required to make introductions or bring a friend to lunch requires a level of value that few can muster. This is the key to making this idea work. You must bring value to every interaction, conversation and setting.

When you can do this, people will gladly introduce you to others. When you change the context of a referral to that of an introduction you automatically raise the stakes for all parties and that’s the place where you can do your magic.

Ivan Misner, Bob Burg and Bill Cates on Making Referrals

This is a special Make a Referral Week 2009 Session

Ivan MisnerBob BurgBill Cates

The Referral A-Team consisting of Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, Bob Burg, author of the Go-Giver and Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now! joined me for a live web conference yesterday to talk about, what else, referrals.

You may listen to the session here (1h:15m)

You may download the session here

We covered a lot of ground and the tweets were flying as well – follow twitter thread here

Some of my favorite nuggets

  • small business is the economic engine that can pull our country out of the recession
  • In referring, you’re not trying to close a sale, you’re trying to train a sales force
  • Stimulate referrals by educating people on how referrals work and how you handle referrals
  • Time confidence curve= the level trust needed to receive referrals depends on business. High (financial adv) low (florist)
  • strategic alliances are not formed by speed dating – proactively support each other
  • you should be getting at least 20% of your referrals passively, without you asking -they know, like, trust you and refer
  • Must rely actively on network, strategic partners and clients together to build referrals. Not on clients alone
  • Women give referrals twice as often as men
  • Most people lack a *process* for harvesting their network. Process replaces the fear of asking for referrals
  • Trust is the ultimate root and source of our influence. Influence is everything

Hope you join us by making your referral now at Make a Referral Week – just tell us who you referred and why and have fun reading the growing list as we march towards 1000 referrals made.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Essence of the Inbound Referral

This post is the opening positioning for the week long Make a Referral Week – officially starting Monday March 9 – Don’t forget to join us Tuesday, March 10 for a live web panel with Ivan Misner, Bill Cates and Bob Burg – Register here

Referrals happen, but seems like the more I talk to small business owners, the more I discover they don’t really know why they happen or how to make them happen more.

I think it starts with the understanding that everything about generating leads and referrals is changing.

Not long ago I was asked by a large insurance carrier to help design a marketing system for their new agents. They had used the same technique for about fifty years. It went like this. Every new agent would make up a list of 100 people they knew, had been taught or coached by, was related to their friends or was related to them. Next step was to get on the phone and ask those people, some of whom had not seen them in years, to have a discussion with this new insurance pup about taking care of the needs of their family and property.

Scary thing is, this is pretty much the approach of 90% of the companies in this industry. I am by no means picking on this industry because this a common approach for all too many businesses. And when that list of 100 is exhausted, the next option is to start pounding the phones in the equally frustrating game of cold calling.

Outbound marketing, interrupting anyone with a pulse, or worse yet a family member who might actually buy out of guilt, is a thing of the past.

In fact, my advice for this company was this: (they fired me after I suggested it by the way)

Have your agents make that list and include any influential person they had ever run across. But, instead of calling them start thinking of ways to introduce them to other businesses, services and opportunities. In fact, I suggested that they spend 50-75% of the first six months doing nothing but connecting their friends, family and network members in ways that helped them get more of what they were lacking – no selling allowed.

My experience with anyone who takes this advice and this approach is that within a couple weeks of adding value to people’s lives they never have to ask for another referral. It may feel counter intuitive to put the sales approach on the back burner and just focus on making referrals, but do it and people will find you – that’s the essence of the inbound referral.

In the end making referrals is significantly more fruitful than begging for them. Get this point and you’ll never want for leads in your business. Referrals and leads will find you. Putting this strategy into action also ignites a multiplier effect that creates unstoppable marketing momentum and fortifies your business with a network of partners ready and willing to help your get more of what you want out of life.

Happy Make a Referral Week!

The Referral A Team Heads Up Make a Referral Week

Ivan MisnerBob BurgBill Cates

Join me Tuesday, March 10th at Noon CST for a live web panel discussion featuring Bob Burg, author of the Go-Giver, Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now. In my opinion this group makes up what may be the worlds greatest single collection of thought leaders on the subject of referrals. This is the A-Team when it comes to teaching the strategies of referral! Register here for this event.

The conference is the headline event of the educational component of Make a Referral Week. More info on the entire week can be found here.

iLinc Web and Video ConferencingThis session is brought to you by iLinc – Web and Video Conferencing that’s easy to use, affordable and powerful enough to make your online meetings really come alive.

Have You Made Your Referral?

Make a Referral WeekMake a Referral Week 2009 is March 9-13. This is one tiny effort to make a dent in this recession and shine a light on the efforts and impact of one small business helping another.

The goal of the event is to generate 1000 referrals for 1000 deserving businesses.

During the week this blog will be taken over by guest contributions and audio interviews with folks like Andy Sernovitz, Guy Kawasaki, Pam Slim, Rich Sloan, Anita Campbell, Scott Ginsburg, Michael Port and Jill Konrath all focused on telling you how to generate more business by way of referral.

In addition, I am hosting a live web conference on Tuesday, March 10 at Noon CST featuring Bob Burg, author of the Go-Giver, Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now. This is the A-Team when it comes to teaching the strategies of referral! Register here for this event.

Here’s how you do your part:
1) Think about the referral(s) you are going to make
2) Make your referrals – (you don’t have to wait until March 9 to do this)
3) Visit the Make a Referral Week Referral Counter page and tell us who you referred and why in the comments – feel free to add URLs so others can learn about the business you referred.
4) Take in all the great educational content all week
5) Bask in the glow of small business coolness!

Tired of Hearing About E.D. – then do something

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of all the talk of economic downturn (E.D.) and I think, as a group, small business owners are too.

Therefore we hereby declare March 9-13, 2009 – Make a Referral Week.

Make a Referral WeekMake a Referral Week is an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small business economy one referred business at a time. The goal for the week is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses in an effort to highlight the fact that this simple action can blossom into millions of dollars in new business. Small business is the lifeblood and job-creating engine of the economy and merits the positive attention so often saved for corporate bailout stories.

The week long virtual event will also feature daily education programs focused on teaching small business owners and other marketers how to tap the power of referral marketing. The featured session includes a live web conference with Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and author Masters of Networking, Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals and the Go-Giver, Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals Now. (Here’s the full list of education planned for the week)

No money is exchanging hands, no sponsors are being hit up, it’s just something that we thought needed to be done. If you want to get involved in this small business happening visit the Make a Referral Pledge page and submit your intention now to make at least one referral during the March 9-13 event. (Take this step and you are automatically eligible to receive audio recordings of the entire expert series)

Once you pledge you will also find tools that make it easy to refer friends, post to your Facebook profile and blog about the week. If you would like to actively promote visit the sponsor page for additional tools.

During the week of March 9-13 we will activate the Referral-o-meter to track the march to 1000 referrals as small business owners visit and describe who they referred a lead to and why.

This is every small business person’s chance to be a part of the solution!