Tapping into your personal relationships with your clients and referral sources can go a long way in generating new business. There are a number of ways to handle this and each can be helpful in its own way. But we need to delineate between the two sources. A referral source is someone will connect you directly to a potential client while a Center of Influence (COI) will mention how great you are to groups of people but may not profile each one to know who is a best-fit and has interest in your services. Both are very powerful but need to be approached in different ways.
Let’s first talk about asking for help from your current clients in the form of testimonials and direct referral connections. You may ask current clients to leave you a Google, LinkedIn or other form of a review. Write a script on how you will ask for this testimonial to guide your referral source into writing on the things you want them to mention. For example, you may say something like, “I would appreciate a testimonial on how we helped you reconfigure your team into optimal roles and responsibilities, or how we boosted your list of potential clients by defining and sharing the traits of our ideal client with our followers and referral sources.” When you provide them with the topics you’d like them to address, you will be more likely to be able to use their testimonial in a meaningful way.
Now, think of your client as a referral source that you can ask to connect you with others they might know. This can be a slippery slope. You need to be clear on (a) the types of clients you are looking for and (b) if the current client is actually a good referral source (c) are they able to clearly articulate your business’ value and services. Good referral sources need to value what you offer, understand when a prospect might need your services, and want others to know about your business. This knowledge helps you decide if it is worth time or money to educate them or seek a new network of referral sources.
Now let’s talk about Centers of Influence. These could be businesses or individuals that have a large following, either in person or on social media. Their reputation is stellar and admirable in the community of potential leads you seek. And they are giving and want to promote providers that they believe in. For business owners who are responsible for expanding their own client base, explain how a call with them might open doors to opportunities for both of you. Ask them how their business is doing. Provide helpful content they could use in conversations with their clients or that educates them on how a relationship with you could help their business. You may consider asking them if they have content of their own that they would like you to share on their behalf, as well. Remember that this should be a giving and taking relationship where you both benefit.
When you think about an individual who may be a COI, make sure they value and can articulate what you do and have many relationships in the community. Ask them how they could help you spread the word about your services and if there is anything you could offer in return. People feel good about helping people they like. It simply takes asking to catalyze the action.
Tapping into your clients for referrals and connecting with COIs to build awareness about your brand:
If you seek a process to nurture centers of influence and referral sources, download the Excel Workflow Template. For Redtail CRM users, download and follow the request form to receive an editable workflow template in your CRM.
There are entire businesses that grow and thrive through their referral and COI sources. These people can be a gold mine for future growth. No matter how adept you are at marketing, or how fantastic your inbound lead generation tools work, never ever underestimate the power of receiving referrals and building networking relationships with your COIs. Lastly, always remember to reward your referral source with a token of appreciation whether it be with a hand-written note, a gift, or reciprocating the gesture on their behalf. This not only shows you respect the time and effort that individual spent helping you, but can help keep those referrals coming in.
Please remember to add any new epiphanies and ideas to your Master Plan of Ideas and Initiatives.