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

Marketing podcast with Bill Cates

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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.

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