Everybody loves referrals. They’re easier to close than non-referrals, make quicker buying decisions and tend to be more loyal—in short, they can often become your most profitable customers. Trouble is, referrals are also elusive. Even a likable person with plenty of integrity and knowledge won’t see an influx of referrals if her or she doesn’t implement the appropriate strategy.
“It’s worth taking the time to understand why most referral efforts don’t work,” reports Michael Beck in a recent article over at MarketingProfs, “and to understand what keys need to be in place in order to get the results you want.”
Here’s an overview of his four-step plan for referral success:
Work with enough sources. You need around 12 “core” centers of influence (COI)—people you take to lunch on a regular basis. Bolster this network by cultivating relationships with 100 “potential” COIs.
Implement a system. Relationship-building takes a good measure of conscious effort. “It is only by regular contact that you will create a stream of referral,” says Beck.
Set yourself apart. Find and cultivate a niche that differentiates you from the competition.
Invest in the relationship. “This is the key that almost everyone misses,” he notes. “To create a reliable stream of referrals, you need to make ‘deposits’ into the relationship (emotional) bank account of each of your referral sources.” Get to know your COIs, and find ways to enhance their end of the relationship.
The Point: “If you take the time to get each step right,” says Beck, “you will become one of the few professionals who grow their business strictly by referrals.”