How to Get More Referrals - A Four Step Strategy to Help You Get More and Better Referrals

Referrals are key to growing your business. But rather than take a wait and see approach hoping to get some referrals a proactive approach is to strategically develop Referral Partners -- people who you have a relationship with and who proactively introduce and refer you to your target prospects. The prospects they send you are the easiest-to-convert leads you'll ever get. 

So why not simply turn the usual client prospecting approach around.  Instead of trying to recruit customers, you'll be much better off if you focus on finding Referral Partners instead.  

But where do you look for them?

There are a variety of ways to find them, but you don't want just 'anybody'. To be successful in receiving quality referrals one of the most important criteria is that your Referral Partners must have "Opportunity."  That is, the opportunity to interact with your potential target customers on a regular basis.

You see if they don't get enough exposure to your target prospects they won't be able find many referrals or be able to recommend you very often. So if you take that thought to its logical conclusion, and you'll realize that you need to start with your target customers...

So here is a 4 step process for finding referral partners:

1. Get to know your target customers

Before you can find successful referral partners, you need to get to know your target customers.  Find out as much as you can about them.  What do they need and want.  What other products and services do they buy?  What events do they attend? Where do they network? What charities do they support?  And so on.

This step actually serves you in two ways.  Not only will it help you connect with potential referral partners but it will also help you serve your customers better because you have a better understanding and appreciation for them.

2. Explore who has regular contact with your target customers

This step brings you closer to potential referral partner candidates.  Figure out what other products and services that your ideal target customers buy.  From hom do they buy their supplies, and who do they contract for the services they need?

For example, If you want to market to restaurants you could find out who else provides them with services or products.  Find out who cleans their linens, and who supplies their coffee.   Those providers are doing the same for numerous other restaurants in town. This puts them in a perfect position to introduce you to their other restaurant owners.

3. Go where they go

Once you've made a list of potentials industries that your prospective Referral Partners are in the next step is to meet them. In order to find and connect with Referral Partner prospects use a networking strategy. Don't just rely on the Chamber events but take time to assess where they go - what associations do they belong to, conferences they attend etc.? 

4. Ask your current clients

Not sure where to start?  A great way to find out is to simply ask your own ideal clients who else they buy from and tap into their network of suppliers and service providers.  So keeping to the restaurant example above, if you want to find out who does their linen service or their books, just ask your current restaurant clients. And then ask for an introduction them. 

Once you have some prospective Referral partners in mind get on the phone and suggest a coffee date to talk about how you can help each other. When you meet, remember to qualify them on 'opportunity' -  do they really have enough contact with the type of prospect you want to meet?  And finally, just like any relationship, remember they take time to develop.