Making Referrals Work for You – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series on how to make referrals work for you, we reviewed the types of referral sources that, if managed well, can bring new revenues to your business.
But, let’s dig a little deeper now by looking at these types of referrals and map them against two key qualities that are essential for them to be effective. And by that, I mean, being able to shorten the sales cycle and increase the volume of new sales opportunities:

  • Key Quality #1: How well the type of referral source knows your organization.

To bring you business opportunities that you want, referral sources need to understand: your product/service offerings, what’s unique about your company, and your company’s culture.

  • Key Quality #2: How well the type of referral source knows your targeted companies.

At the same time, referral sources need to understand your preferred, or targeted, companies in ways that go beyond answering the BANT (i.e. budget, authority, need, and timetable) questions. They also must have a handle on targets’ goals, their plans to pursue these goals, and the challenges preventing them from reaching their goals.

That might seem obvious, but, you’d be surprised how much effort and resource are spent on engaging referral sources that lack both these qualities. So, to help you focus your time on leveraging those referral sources that will have the most positive impact on your sales funnel, consider the following mapping. (Just keep in mind this serves as a starting point. There are outliers and exceptions for every referral source type.)

If you want to further optimize referral sources and their activities:

  • Sign up for ‘The Joy of Referrals’ – a monthly newsletter that helps you achieve revenue targets by providing best practices and key insights about referral programs.

Andrew Brown is Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Bridgemaker Referral Programs. He is the lead author of the ‘How to Grow Your Business Through Better Relationships’ series – which includes books on getting the most from referral sources, channel partners, and strategic alliances.

Making Referrals Work for You – Part 1

Every business leader thinks about generating new sales. So, let me ask you a quick question about where your new business comes from: What percentage comes from referrals?

Don’t panic if you don’t know. In fact, business leaders and sales professionals across all industries have trouble answering that question accurately. After all, the world of referrals is very messy. Just consider all the types of referral sources that could, if managed well, be bringing you the kind of business you want:

  • Re-sellers who complement your product/service
  • Customers/Clients – past and present – who recognize the value you bring
  • Partners and alliances who look for ways to work closely with you
  • Analysts and product/service reviewers who assess your strengths
  • Influencers on social media and online affiliates who shape opinion
  • Suppliers and employees

Did I say the world of referrals is messy? I meant a potential shambles.

But, here’s the good news: Managing referrals effectively so that you achieve your revenue targets is do-able. But, it takes a bit of discipline. Here are a few things you can do today to get a better handle on managing your referral sources:

  1. Identify which ‘types’ of referral sources bring in the greatest volume of business;
  2. Identify the top three referral sources for each type (these could be an organization or an individual); and
  3. Schedule time with these referral sources and find out why they refer business to you.

If you want to truly optimize referral sources and their activities:

  • Sign up for ‘The Joy of Referrals’ – a monthly newsletter that helps you achieve revenue targets by providing best practices and key insights about referral programs.

Andrew Brown is Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Bridgemaker Referral Programs. He is the lead author of the ‘How to Grow Your Business Through Better Relationships’ series – which includes books on getting the most from referral sources, channel partners, and strategic alliances.

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