Can I Give You A Referral?

On my last post I highlighted Make A Referral Week 2009. The goal was to generate 1,000 referrals to 1,000 deserving small businesses in one week. I am happy to report the goal was met and I am excited to see Referral Week happen again with a much larger goal!

This week I had the pleasure of talking to one of my favorite people Stuart Manley from ChannelPoint, Inc., a Toronto, ON human resource company specializing in cross border HR. After talking to Stuart I thought of another friend Art Kriegsmann. Art is the CEO of H.R. SERV., Inc. based in San Diego, CA. The conversation with Stuart prompted me to refer both Stuart and Art to each other. I referred them because they both specialize in different areas and could possibly be a great referral source for one another.

The example points out one of the most overlooked referrals we can make. We all love to receive direct referrals which will lead to a new client. Sometimes our best referrals are not a direct referral but someone who can continually give us referrals over time. Creating referral partners, power partners, or fantastic referral sources should be a major part of your referral strategy.

To create a referral source think about the businesses in your network who may serve your ideal client. Possibly a company you notice working with the same clients you have. Once you identify such a company or industry reach out to them and talk about the possibility of sending referrals to one another. This strategy could make the difference of your business maintaining sales this year or possibly growing another 10, 20, or 50 percent! And for those of you who may watch the news or if you happen to still read the paper… Yes I did say you can grow your business in this economy!

If you are still reading this post I have one question for you. Can I give you a referral?

Do you have a company or client you have been trying to reach? Do you know who your ideal client or referral partner is? How can I or the readers give you a referral? Leave your referral request as a comment and let’s see if we can help each other!

SWOT Analysis: Identifying Your Threats

Last week I talked about opportunities, following up from my post on SWOT Analysis:  Simple Tool to Improve Your Business.  If you missed one of these previous posts it may be best to go back and review them in order.

Today I will review our discussion on Threats (the “T” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise.  The discussion on Threats was led by Angie Swartz, Executive Coach and Founder of Six Figure Moms Club.  Angie opened the analysis with a brief discussion on threats.  Angie quoted from Wikipedia’s definition of threats:  “Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the business’s performance”.

The group had the following ideas to think about before our discussion insuring each person was prepared to discuss possible threats:

What is your competition offering that you are not?
Are competitive businesses moving into your area?
Are economic trends changing your customer spending habits?
What social trends are impacting your business?

Angie then opened it up to the group for discussion asking members to discuss their discovered threats.  Here is some of the discussion:

  • Justin Stewart, Customer Service Supervisor with San Diego National Bank talked about his larger institutions undercutting the value of what his bank can offer and the negative perception and distrust of financial companies in the current market.  Leon Alchalel Investment Realtor with Keller Williams added while this is a threat it is also an opportunity because more people and businesses are looking for service the larger institutions cannot offer.  Justin also added that while the larger bank institutions are getting a lot of negative publicity, San Diego National Bank is financially very strong which attracts new clients looking for financially strong institutions.
  • Katina Jackson, Independent Associate with Pre-Paid Legal said her biggest threat is the amount of Pre-Paid Legal representatives in her market.  Art Kriegsmann, President of H.R. Servs., Inc. asked if there was a way to separate herself from the other Pre-Paid Legal representatives?  Katina stated she focuses on seniors working within that niche market.  She also does a lot of networking events and then follows up with each of them creating a stronger connection.  This connection leads to more clients and referrals.

I found identifying my threats the most difficult part in the SWOT Analysis.  I look at threats as a negative which I typically stay away from.  Looking at negative influences around me is like adding fuel to a fire that I am choosing not to see.  With that said I also realize the need to be aware of both the positive and negative around me to help identify potential opportunities.  So with much thought the main threat I have identified is the perception of the businesses and sales professionals I work with.

Right now, most small business owners are cutting back on all marketing and advertising like appreciation campaigns, referral strategies, and follow up systems, as this is a simple fix to cash flow problems. The current economy amplifies the creativity in coming up with a great excuse not to do it implement new marketing and advertising ideas.  The reality is now is the best time to implement these types of strategies!  Implementing strategies like this will not only bring in new customers now it will also propel the growth of the company for years to come.

The following are examples of threats that might me affecting your business right now:

  • As a business owner or sales professional, when competitors move into your area that is a threat.
  • When internet companies focus on your target market or your area, this is a threat.
  • When economic trends change, this could be a threat.  When social trends change like Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and Generation Y moves into the workforce, this could be a threat to you.

I encourage you to be aware of these threats and discover creative ways to react to them.  Remember threats can be looked at as a negative or you can see them for an opportunity to create positive change, the choice is yours.