Today’s guest post is brought to you by Tony Messer – Enjoy!

A funny thing happened in the Gym locker room today. I became an expert on corrective laser eye surgery!

That in itself was strange enough, but what makes this even stranger is that the person I learned this from wasn’t even an eye surgeon. Let me explain. As I was putting in my contact lenses just before going into the gym, one of the members remarked that I was using contact lenses & that he had done away with his years ago. He then explained that he had decided to have corrective laser eye surgery & he has never looked back since.

So, off I went with my normal objections: Is it safe? What if in 10 years’ time they discover that this type of procedure will lead to instant blindness? It looks painful. What If I move when they are performing the treatment – will the laser frazzle my cornea?

To my surprise, the guy was a walking encyclopedia on laser eye surgery. Every objection I could raise he addressed. I even know that the machines they use are made in Italy & that they use 2 lasers so no danger of frazzled cornea as one is used to direct the other if you should move your eye!

He had obviously done his homework. In fact, the reason that he knew so much was that he had contacted one of the world’s top eye surgeons who practices at the UK’s principal eye hospital in London & had performed the procedure on him. He made it sound as if they just put an eye drop in your eye & ask you to look at a light for a moment or two.

This got me thinking about the power of referrals & what makes a really powerful referral. In this case, the service in question is both expensive & one which many people would have serious concerns about.

However, in this case, my new friend was a powerful advocate for this particular eye surgeon & his practice. The reason for this was that he was not only happy with the result, but he was educated too. For the eye surgeon this is a powerful position to be in. If you like, we can think of it as follows:

Happy Customer + Educated Customer = Raving Fan & Referrer

OK, not all of us are in businesses with such a complex service which involves allaying people’s fears. However, we can learn from this example. If you can leave your customers happy that is great, but if you can educate them too then they will be a more powerful advocate of your services.

But this even applies to less complex products or services. I use a really great guy who is like a local Mr Fix it. He is a plumber mainly, but he has a really reliable set of partners who he can call on if there is something that he cannot do himself. He is my trusted single point of contact. If ever I have an issue then he takes time to explain the issue & he always looks for a sensible fix, rather than immediately telling me I need to replace this or that expensive units.

I have lost count of the number of people I have referred to him. It is not just because he does a great job that I refer him. It is because he takes the time to help me to understand why my boiler is not working & what is the best way to fix it & then prevent this issue in the future.

In fact, Pilar & I gave him a walk on part in my book “The Lazy Website Syndrome” – you’ll find him in the Social media section although I have changed his name.

So, try to look in your business & see where you can educate your customers & prospects. Maybe you can create a free report or download from your website to get you started. People love to share knowledge & you just never know who they’ll be talking to or when.

Now, where did I leave my glasses?

Tony MesserTony Messer, Author of the book “The Lazy Website Syndrome”  & founder of the UK web hosting company, . Alternates between his homes in London & the south of Spain. He is focused on helping his customers achieve great success online using his straightforward, jargon free approach.

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  • Great article, Tony! I think that more businesses (especially Small Business) should learn about the idea of Consultative Selling in their referral strategy. I think there’s a fear that information will educate them to go elsewhere empowered to price-comparison-shop or that the potential/current client doesn’t want to be burdened with the information. If the patient empowerment movement in the medical field has taught us anything (at least here in the States), people *want* information, and when there’s a high level of emotion involved, we also want guidance on decision-making.

    • You have touched on an important point there. As you say, there is a fear that if we educate potential customers then we are just arming them with questions to ask our competitors. However, I think that by raising these points in advance we put ourselves in a powerful position in the eyes of potential (& existing customers). By addressing questions and potential objections head on we are showing that we are experts in our field who can be trusted to deliver. Our competitors are effectively on the back foot immediately because we have provided our prospects with an array of useful information.

  • Thank you for sharing this, Tony.

    Providing education to clients or customers helps build trust that strengthens our relationship with them and position ourselves as an expert on the subject matter rather than as a salesperson who is all about getting an immediate return. An client who sees us as an expert and trusted our advice don’t normally switch to a competitor or recommending somebody else to a competitor simply because of lower prices.

    For my current business, I am looking at how I can be more visible and helpful in online communities where my target audience is spending their time. Offering free reports and whitepapers are definitely on the roadmap.

    • Hi Wayne, I couldn’t agree more. There is a MASSIVE difference between pitching & teaching. As I discovered in my example, once someone has learned something new they are usually only too keen to demonstrate that knowledge to their friends & contacts.

      In terms of your business, perfection is sometimes over rated so you just need to put a stake in the ground & aim to get your first reports out there ASAP. Once you are up & running you’ll find that you’ll get more & more confident in terms of the content that you produce. Good luck!

  • Yep, referrals still count for something. If you think about it, most people have a “car guy” (place where they ONLY purchase cars from), a “numbers guy” (go-to tax man)..etc. Whatever your niche, the goal should be to become “that guy” people think about, when thinking of that niche…right?

    • Hi Rich, I definitely agree about the “go to” person. The really great thing though is when it almost appears effortless on their part. They are just “doing what they do” in their minds but to us they are building confidence in who they are & what they do.