5 Steps to all the clients you’ll ever need. In Blackboard Fridays Episode 48, Jacob talks about Marketing. Need this implemented into your business? Talk to the international business advisor who can do exactly that – Contact Jacob, Learn More, or Subscribe for Updates.
Would you like more clients? Have you ever been told that referrals and ‘word of mouth marketing’ was the best way to find new business? Do you wonder why none of those referral sources you keep having coffee with ever actually send you a good client?
If you answered YES to any of those questions, this week’s episode is for YOU!
Traditional ‘have a coffee, have a chat’ referral building doesn’t work consistently. The process is too casual, and you’re too polite.
If you want to grow your business, you need a simple process, and one that’s designed for a business your size. Here it is: the straightforward, 5 steps process to structured referral building, designed for privately-owned businesses.
(I have one client who has implemented this as their primary source of clients in 7 countries … so far. If your current approach to referrals isn’t working, try something that does.)
Watch this week’s episode here.
Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?
“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.
Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.
At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.
You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.
Welcome to Blackboard Fridays. A key part the businessDEPOT way, the methodology that we bring to business owners to help empower their bright ideas is the integration of different concepts so that you as the business owner need only remember one key system strategic approach to your business and not a whole lot of different stuff.
Today we’re talking about strategic referral channels and I want to connect you back to episode 12 where we talked about the five attractants for your sales hourglass and also episode 17 where we did a case study as to which lead generation sources converted at the highest percentage. You won’t be surprised to discover that in most businesses I speak with, strategic referrals, sending you there the ideal clients that you want to work with that a pre-qualified and pre-sold convert at a much higher rate than any other lead generation source.
So how do you go out there and create those strategic referral sources? I’ll be honest the casual approach or the traditional approach doesn’t work. It’s predicated on catching up having pleasant conversations over coffee, a few times a year and hoping that that builds enough of a relationship for referrals to start flowing. In reality, to get somebody to send you a referral, you need to build a deep relationship with them, and you need to have some hard conversations.
Thankfully, we have the approach to help you and to help them have those necessary conversations. Don’t be afraid to kick people out of this process if they’re not going to work because that just creates time for you to create this small pool of strategic referral channels who are actually going to keep you and your team as busy as you want for as long as you need.
Let’s go through the five steps to strategic referral relationships. Step one is connecting. This means two things, both a cultural and a commercial connection. Right from the get-go, that very first meeting and culturally, do I actually want to be in relationship with this person? Because no matter how great the commercial sense makes for that relationship, if you just don’t like them, you wouldn’t want to go and have a beer with them or answer the phone when they ring. You’re never going to give or receive referrals. Cut it dead there.
Commercially, are they actually in a position to send you the ideal clients that you want? One of the first times that I in my business had this conversation was with a great client of mine who worked with a lot of other businesses at exactly the size I wanted to work with. It seemed like a no-brainer because we had this process and we had that conversation.
We realized that even though they had a relationship with those businesses, they had a relationship a few tears down from the CEO or business owner that I needed a relationship with. Culturally, we loved each other but commercially, it was not in a situation where they actually could make the introductions that I needed so we didn’t bother wasting any more time having that conversation. The connection wasn’t there.
If the connection is there, you move on to step two. Now sometimes you can go through a couple of these steps in a single meeting. Sometimes you need multiple meetings to get through even just one of these steps. You’re getting to know you is a good example of the ladder because it often takes two meetings, two conversations to do this. One at your office, your property location and taking them through the business and through how you work with your clients.
Let them get to know you, warts and all. Then have them reciprocate go out to their office, their location, have a conversation about their business and their process. What you’re looking for in this situation is the specific step in each other’s workflows where referrals can happen. Because if you don’t identify that specific step, you’re just building a relationship based on hope. Hope that the question comes up or the person thinks about it at the right time.
That pleasant will get you the occasional referral but it’s not strategic you can’t build strategy on hope. Once you’ve gotten to know each other, you’ve got an idea of where in each other’s businesses the connection can occur for the referrals to flow, you then need to have a deep conversation that can be quite challenging. You need to talk about why you would have a referral relationship and even more importantly why not.
Again, the traditional fluffy approach spends a lot of time talking about why. We send each other clients, we’ll both have all of these great clients who love both of us and send us a whole heap of revenue and then nothing happens because there’s some fears there’s some concerns there’s some reasons why the relationship is not going to work. You need to have those conversations now. What are those concerns? What are the things that are going to stop you from sending me clients? And honestly what are the things that I’m worried about your business they’re going to stop me from doing the same? If just one fear exists, the referrals will not flow.
Have the conversation save yourself a lot of wasted time having pleasant coffees just because you’re too afraid to be honest about your concerns. And then also get clear on that why. It can’t just be some broad motherhood statement about referrals flowing. What is the specific benefit to that person for sending you work? Because if there isn’t a specific benefit, then the referrals they send you will be intermittent and ad-hoc. When that benefit exists and it’s connected at a specific point in their workflow process, that’s when the referrals will flow.
Once you’ve got those clear, you can move to step 4 which is getting an agreement and get this documented. Now that can be a formal agreement. At businessDEPOT, the relationships we have in this space have a formal signed document. It can be as simple, depending on your business, as an email confirming the steps and the processes that you’re agreeing to. Ideally in that document, you’re agreeing to a specific number of referrals that you will receive on a frequency basis. It might be one a year or it might be four a week. Whatever that number is get it in writing.
Lastly, implementing that understand that you are building relationships with your strategic referral channels for the long term. It’s not about getting an agreement, getting it signed, sending the emails and then waiting for the work to flow. You need to manage that relationship for the long term. So part of your agreement needs to be how often you’re communicating.
What’s the process when they send you a referral for keeping them in the loop and keeping them advised of what’s going on? Are you sitting down on a monthly or quarterly basis and have catch up about how the businesses are going? Are there any new concerns, fears, or benefits that have arisen? What’s happening with those clients that they’ve sent you of you sent them?
Next week we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into the why and why not conversations but understand that if you build a relationship, if you go through this process, the benefits to your business in terms of pre-qualified, pre-sold referrals to keep you busy are going to be enormous. Make the commitment to make the commitment.
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