It’s Referral Monday and every Monday, I write a post on building your path to more referrals. In order to get more referrals, you really have to be very focused on it and build yourself a system to follow. Dedicating time and effort to the process is the secret to success.
Earlier this week, I was talking with a client about developing a referral system for his business. We’ve spent time examining and determining the target client and we’ve determined the key differentiator from the competition, now comes the hard part—actually working on developing the relationships with the strategic partners.
Developing quality business relationships takes time and a decent amount of effort if you’re hoping for any amount of success. After all, the end result that you’re hoping for is that this key strategic partner will become comfortable enough and trust you enough to lend you his or her trust and credibility with their own clients and professional and personal network. And that doesn’t happen overnight.
Here are 7 steps to use in developing a new strategic partner.
- If it’s there’s a partner you’d like to add to your network, but don’t yet actually know, send them a letter of introduction. Like it says, introduce yourself, who you are and what you do and why you are contacting them. Indicate that you are looking for a new strategic partner and that you think they might be a good fit for these reasons. Add in a blank sheet asking for some details on their ideal client, what makes them unique, and how you might introduce them to your network, what trigger statements to listen for from prospects and include a few testimonials if possible. Also ask what their process is when they receive a referral. Then include a copy of the same sheet filled in by you. This will serve as an example for them to follow.
- Follow this letter up with a phone call and set a up a face-to-face meeting.
- During the face-to-face meeting, talk about why you sent the letter and what you’re looking for. It’s always better if you can indicate that you are looking for a new partner that does such and such to refer to. Discuss what you can give and then they will likely want to find out how they can help you.
- Send a thank you note for meeting. Hand-written is best. Then agree to stay in touch.
- Keep in touch once a month. Either via email or a phone call. A phone call is best, however, you could alternate between the two. Report on any referrals they have sent to you and ask about any that you have provided.
- When you get a great referral who becomes a client, send a hand-written thank you note. A small token might be appropriate depending on the value of the business transaction.
- See each other face-to-face at least once a quarter.
Developing loyal clients takes time. Developing loyal referral sources takes just as much time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it.