Leni Chauvin, The Client Attraction Coachâ„¢
Whether youâ€™re starting out in a new career or trying to expand an existing customer base for an established business, one thing is certain:Â life can be so much simpler if you form strong relationships with like-minded people who want to help you get ahead.
This usually means â€œreferral partners.â€ that wonderful group of associates that savvy business people have working for them 365 days a year to help them increase their bottom line.Â These are the folks who can bring in new business for you, and you, in turn, do exactly the same thing for them.
One way to maximize the effectiveness of your referral partners is to think of them as potential customers.Â make sure they know everything about you and your business that you would want a potential client, customer, or patient to know.Â If youâ€™re not sure what that might be, itâ€™s time to go to the drawing board to make a list of everything you think would encourage a potential client to walk through your door.Â Here are just a few examples of things you want your referral partners to know about your business:
1.Â Where are you located?
If youâ€™re going to make or receive a referral, this information should be at the top of your list.Â Not only should you be able to tell people where the person youâ€™re referring is located, you should also be able to provide driving directions and parking information.Â Think about it.Â If you were to receive a recommendation for a chiropractor, for example, wouldnâ€™t you think it odd that the person making the referral had no idea where the office was located?Â I know I would, and Iâ€™d be a bit suspicious as to the caliber of the referral.
2.Â What are your qualifications?
What kind of training have you had?Â Have you completed the training or are you still studying?Â Where did you go to school?Â Is the school accredited?Â Â What degree or credentials have you earned?
3.Â What professional associations do you belong to and how active are you?
Whether youâ€™re a realtor, a coach, an insurance agent, a school teacher, or anything else for that matter, people want to know that you are a â€œprofessionalâ€ The surest sign of being serious about your way of earning a living is to be an active member in your professionâ€™s governing body.Â I canâ€™t begin to imagine going to a doctor who wasnâ€™t a member of a national medical association.Â Can you?Â Anyone who is even remotely serious about being part of a profession, would be wise, I think, to joinÂ their professional association and to adhere to its code of ethics. Membership in these groups also separates the serious pro from the part-timer.
4.Â How long have you been doing what you do?
This is something people always want to know.Â If youâ€™ve been in the same line of work for 10 or more years, this is impressive;Â make sure your referral partners stress your experience.
If youâ€™re new to what youâ€™re doing, train your referral partners to answer this question by saying that youâ€™re â€œin his/her first year.â€Â That sounds far better than saying youâ€™ve been at it for only a week!Â Nobody has lied, but nobody has toÂ know that youâ€™re at the start of your first year, either (unless they specifically ask).Â All the client probably heard was â€œone year.â€ which will, at least give you a better shot at having a conversation with them than if they think you have no experience at all.Â After that, itâ€™s up to you to gain their confidence.Â Thereâ€™s only so much a referral partner can do; the rest is always up to you.
5.Â EXACTLY, what do you do?
What is the scope of your job and what responsibilities do you have?Â If youâ€™re a real estate agent, for example, do your referral partners know what that entails?Â Do they know that you are connected to a national referral system and that you can find a local realtor for their aunt who wants to purchase a home in another city? Do they know that youâ€™ll get a commission for this?Â Do they know that you give free market evaluations, arrange for financing, can find a plumber for the leaky bathtub,Â etc., etc., etc.Â Whatever your industry, donâ€™t assume anything;Â make sure people know what you do.
6.Â Whatâ€™s your target market?
Do you have a niche?Â What are the demographics youâ€™re aiming for?Â In other words whose business do you want?Â Sure, itâ€™s great to want â€œeveryoneâ€™sâ€ business, but the chances of that happening are slim to none.Â Wouldnâ€™t you be happier if you actually cornered the market–if you had 97% of the business of– say, male ambulance drivers, aged 18-34 with a household income of $65,000?Â If thatâ€™s your target market, make sure people know.
If you donâ€™t know what your target market is, nowâ€™s the time to stop and figure it out.Â If youâ€™re not sure whose business you want, how can you expect someone else to do the birddogging for you?
7.Â What makes you so great?
This is really important.Â What do you do that your competition doesnâ€™t do?Â Why would I want to be your referral partner?Â What will you do for the people I send your way?Â What kind of a track record do you have?Â How can I be sure that youâ€™ll look after the people I send your way?Â What kind of guarantees do you offer?Â If Iâ€™m going to be your referral partner, I need to know these things.Â Tell me everything you can think of that will make me confident that youâ€™ll do a good job.
Take the time to review these questions and come up with some more of youâ€™re own.Â Youâ€™ll soon find that youâ€™ll be able to get by â€œwith a little help from your friends.â€
Â© CopyrightÂ Leni Chauivin
Leni Chauvin, The Client Attraction Coach,â„¢ is a leading authority on business networking and client attraction marketing.Â She helps self-employed and commissioned professionals attract more clients and make more money withoutÂ them having to spend a fortune to do it. For F-R-E-E marketing resources, including the e-course,Â “The 7 Most Important Marketing Strategies for Solo Professionals,” visit http://www.attractclientsgalore.com