Referrals are at the heart of many businesses for good reason. When someone refers a client to you, half the work is already done. When you’ve been recommended by a trusted source, the sale will be far easier to close than a cold lead.
With traditional business networking groups, referrals are a big focus. It seems the goal is to meet as many people as you can in hopes that they know someone who needs your services. But what would happen if you focused on building more strategic referral relationships?
For my publishing business, book coaches and ghostwriters make great referral partners because they interact with my prospects right before they need my services. I am constantly reaching out to these businesses to discuss how we can work together. It helps that we don’t offer coaching or ghostwriting services and can in turn refer business back to them.
To develop more strategic referral partners, I had my marketing assistant research coaches and ghostwriters online and then send them an introductory email asking if they would like to be listed as a resource on my website. This was a fantastic way to develop a win-win situation and strategic partnerships that lead to client referrals. As a bonus, that directory page I created on my site shows up at the top of Google when you search for “book coach,” and that alone has brought client leads to my business.
When looking for alliance partners, think about who reaches your clients before you. If you’re a divorce attorney, a good source would be marriage therapists because they often see clients just before “the big decision.” An accountant who works with retailers could partner with people who sell merchant card services (credit card processing) or commercial real estate agents who lease space to new businesses. A personal trainer could partner with a nutritionist or life coach.
Brainstorm a list of potential referral partners, and then consider the best ways to get introduced to each other and work together. Here are some considerations:
- Can you send introductions via email or LinkedIn?
- Can you mail them a copy of your book?
- Do you have a report or postcard with tips that you can leave in their lobby?
- Do they belong to a trade association that you can join?
- Would they be interested in receiving a referral fee?
- Can you create a win-win situation by also referring business to them?
- Can you add a directory on your website where they can be listed?
When I moved into my house, my real estate agent left a booklet she had compiled of local businesses. I thought that was brilliant. I was new to the town and found it really helpful. No doubt it also made her a valuable contact in the eyes of those she recommended, and in turn I’m certain that those businesses sent her referrals as well. Think outside of the box! Could you create a directory of resources and partner with a series of businesses to co-promote each other?
Once you discover strategic referrals and turn up the client generation furnace, you’ll never look at referrals the same way again!
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