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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