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!

You Already Have Your NEXT New Customer!

What is the value of our current customers? In sales it seems we are always striving to get the next customer… So much of our time and effort is spent towards new customers. As sales professionals we do many things to get the next customer or client. Our sales cycle could be hours, days, months, or even years. All of this work just to get the next new customer.

And then it happens! We win the next contract, get the new client, win over our newest customer. Depending on what you are selling you may or may not have some role with this new customer , possibly in training, roll out, or just insuring the sale is complete. At some point our new sale is finished. You are done, the sale is final, and hopefully you have been paid, only to move on to do the cycle all over again. Spend all that time and energy to get the next new customer again.

So that’s it! Let’s move on to the next customer! Right? Wrong! Who is more important to follow up with? New leads, old leads, or existing customers? Existing customers! Don’t get me wrong, you always need to have a constant flow of new customers. My point is the customers you already have are a great resource for new ones! John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing talks about this in his article What’s Your Referral Number? John suggests creating a percentage baseline for the number of clients referring business to you. Finding this number will allow you to improve on your processes so you can achieve the maximum referrals from your clients. Following up with your current customers will not only help you with your customer retention, it will also lead you to new customers. Why not start tomorrow by calling 10 customers you have not spoken to in the last 30 days. Just check in with them and see how they are doing. Make sure they are happy with your product or service. Ask them if you can do anything for them. It shows great customer service and you might just receive a referral to your next new client!

Remember the time you focus on your current customers will allow you to attract new clients with ease. Sometimes the all alluring next new client is right in front of you! All you need to do if followup, stay engaged, and build on the relationship you have already created.

Networking: New Clients, Prospects, Referrals, and Lifelong Friends

Friday night I spent some time at a good friend’s house. My friend is turning 50 today and I have been tasked with keeping him out of the house while his wife gets things ready for a small gathering of friends. Still not sure what I am going to do for three hours but I am confident we can figure out something!

This morning I was thinking about where this friendship started. We first met through a networking group called LeTip. Each week we saw each other for a few hours and then would go on to the rest of our day. Early on we chatted and he let me know someone he knew represented my company and if he decided to use my service he would use them. I mention this because I really had written this person off in regards to networking. I was still nice, talked to him, and looked for ways to refer him, but I had zero expectations of ever receiving referrals or business from him.

Networking for me is not about what I can get from someone, it is about what I can give. Each time you give someone a referral, help someone through a business challenge, or connect two contacts together without expecting anything in return you are giving. Ivan Misner the founder of BNI often talks about this with his givers gain philosophy. The theory here is if you are always looking for ways to support your network then in turn your network will support you with business, contacts, and referrals. Ivan also talks about this in his new book The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies in week 5 and has a recent article about the book on his Networking Now blog on entrepreneur.com.

I really live this givers gain philosophy in all areas of my life. So many examples of wonderful things coming to me when I have least expected it. One of them is the lifelong friend who I have the pleasure in celebrating his life and birthday today.

Follow Up with a Greeting Card!

This should seem obvious but to be quite honest I am shocked at how few follow up greeting cards or hand written notes I receive. Many of our great leaders, top businesses owners, and world renowned sales trainers talk about the hand written note or greeting card. Keith Ferrazzi talks about the power of following up with a hand written note in his national bestselling book Never Eat Alone. Take a moment and think about the last 30 days… How many networking events have you attended? Is the number one, five, or possibly twenty? How many greeting cards, hand written notes, or even postcards have you received from these new contacts?

Think about this… Almost every day I am in a meeting, conference call, or just talking to another business owner and one of the following statements comes up. “Can you believe this economy? No one is buying anything!”, “My business is down, people are just not buying anymore”, “I don’t understand, my customers are not calling me.”

In a business environment where a lot of sales professionals and businesses are struggling (real or imagined) why are some having record sales? If two remodeling builders are in the same major city like New York, Los Angeles, or Dallas why is one having explosive growth while the other is closing down? Could it be the growing business is really lucky and the other is not? Could one have a stronger pool of customers or possibly amazing sales people?

Or maybe it is just a slight edge and a different mindset? Maybe they do something just a little different.. Maybe the business with explosive growth are just following up! Imagine where you or your business would be today if you consistently followed up using a simple greeting card or note…