This post is the opening positioning for the week long Make a Referral Week – officially starting Monday March 9 – Don’t forget to join us Tuesday, March 10 for a live web panel with Ivan Misner, Bill Cates and Bob Burg – Register here
Referrals happen, but seems like the more I talk to small business owners, the more I discover they don’t really know why they happen or how to make them happen more.
I think it starts with the understanding that everything about generating leads and referrals is changing.
Not long ago I was asked by a large insurance carrier to help design a marketing system for their new agents. They had used the same technique for about fifty years. It went like this. Every new agent would make up a list of 100 people they knew, had been taught or coached by, was related to their friends or was related to them. Next step was to get on the phone and ask those people, some of whom had not seen them in years, to have a discussion with this new insurance pup about taking care of the needs of their family and property.
Scary thing is, this is pretty much the approach of 90% of the companies in this industry. I am by no means picking on this industry because this a common approach for all too many businesses. And when that list of 100 is exhausted, the next option is to start pounding the phones in the equally frustrating game of cold calling.
Outbound marketing, interrupting anyone with a pulse, or worse yet a family member who might actually buy out of guilt, is a thing of the past.
In fact, my advice for this company was this: (they fired me after I suggested it by the way)
Have your agents make that list and include any influential person they had ever run across. But, instead of calling them start thinking of ways to introduce them to other businesses, services and opportunities. In fact, I suggested that they spend 50-75% of the first six months doing nothing but connecting their friends, family and network members in ways that helped them get more of what they were lacking – no selling allowed.
My experience with anyone who takes this advice and this approach is that within a couple weeks of adding value to people’s lives they never have to ask for another referral. It may feel counter intuitive to put the sales approach on the back burner and just focus on making referrals, but do it and people will find you – that’s the essence of the inbound referral.
In the end making referrals is significantly more fruitful than begging for them. Get this point and you’ll never want for leads in your business. Referrals and leads will find you. Putting this strategy into action also ignites a multiplier effect that creates unstoppable marketing momentum and fortifies your business with a network of partners ready and willing to help your get more of what you want out of life.
Happy Make a Referral Week!