What is a Good Referral?

referral steps

What is a Good Referral?

What is the secret to referral based marketing? Referral based marketing is word-of-mouth marketing. During the past three years this style of marketing has become one of my favorite activities. What makes this difficult and fun at the same time are all the different concepts of what referral based marketing is and how to accomplish success.

The one constant between the hordes of opinions is you must give in order to receive. There are some referral based groups that have different concepts geared to the strength and how to accomplish referrals. Some groups believe passing a card or saying I know a guy who knows a guy is good enough. This is not a referral. This is nothing more than a cold call that may or may not turn into a lead. The potential prospect may call you or you may call them at some point. The only thing that is known is a name. However, they know nothing about you and your services and you know less about the potential prospect. When you work with referral partners this type referral should never be passed. A referral from a referral partner should be qualified and quantified.

You must make a decision to decide your purpose and determine a goal towards what it is you want to get out of your networking. You will get what you decide to put forth. Another area that will call for a decision is what type of referral do you want to receive and give? Once you decide the condition of the referrals you would like to receive you must educate your referral partners to give them to you. Your referral partners should educate you with the type referrals they want to receive. Each must point out how to recognize, how to approach the potential referral outside of your profession, and what to look for as sure signs. To give referrals to others that are the type that you do not want is senseless. You will get what you give. Once you’ve set expectations you will receive referrals based on the expectation you set.

Next, you will have to decide the type referrals your referral partners want. Some of your partners want bodies and any type referral is acceptable to him or her. They may want to increase the number of times the phones ring or if they are slow and will take shot at any type referral. Some referral partners may want you to refrain from speaking to people about them due to how complicated the sale may be or possibly the cycle of the sale.

Everybody loves a referral where all you have to do is show up and perform up to expectations and deliver on services. I call this the ready, willing, and able referral. Your referring partner has already told their customer or friends about you. The customer knows what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. Personally I will give my customers information about my referral partners before my referral partner arrives at my customer’s house or place of business. My customer feels like they already know and have worked with my referral partner in the past. I will give my customer detailed information about my referral partner and there is no doubt they are the right person for the job. Typically I call the referral partner and ask if they are interested and then pass my phone to my customer.

Always talk to you referral partner and give them the information necessary to decide whether or not they want the job and can take care of your customer. This is very impressive to your customer. When you talk to your referral partner and then hand your phone to your customer and they can set the appointment right on the spot changes the temperature of the call. This is a strike while the iron is hot and will deliver the best results.

Of course the referrals will have different levels of readiness. Let your referral partner know the temperature of the referral. You cannot claim a very hot lead when all you’ve given them is a business card or told them you will have your referral partner call them. This may be considered a warm lead, but it is a really chilly lead. When the customer knows what to expect exponentially increases the temperature of the referral.

The one issue I have with referral based marketing is with the quality of the referral. Typically referral based marketing group’s base their success on the amount of referrals given versus quality of the referrals that become closed. People want to hear success and success in referral based marketing is based on numbers. The more referrals passed increases the number of success which is recorded with referral giving. I talked to a referral king one day and suggested that he start to inform his customers a little more about his referral partners. What he said is I cannot control how you close the call or how well you perform sales. Half of the referring people only knew that someone would call and set an appointment and others had no idea anyone was calling. This is the problem when performance is based on the number of referrals given versus quality of the referrals. It is extremely difficult to close a call when the customer does not know anything about you and is not expecting you to call. Another area that you will need to discuss is the difference between a price based company and a value driven company. Value based companies are often a much higher price in order to maintain the level of service at a high premium and to deliver exceptional customer experience.

Where word of mouth marketing becomes difficult is in educating your referral partners to what you want, why you want them in a certain way, and how they should do it. The next problematic portion is describing to your referral partners what to say and what to listen for and then determine what will be the best course of action that they can provide for their customer. I am constantly asking my referral partners. How do I broach the subject in order to refer my referral partners to my customer? How do you turn the conversation around after you have sold and completed your business to getting the customer into a different frame of mind?

This is a really tough transition for any company or person. Each company will have natural referring partners such as a plumber, hvac, electrician, and painter, each of them is in construction. However you will get other professionals outside of your industry telling you this is all you have to do. If it is that easy each profession would be passing a ton of referrals amongst every referral partner they know.

Recently I had 2 customers complain to me about a couple of my referral partners trying too hard to sell them on other referral partners and this is a risk that is taken by always jumping on a customer for more. The customer felt they were too busy trying to refer sources than taking care of them which reflected unkindly on us. There is a fine line and you must have a rock solid relationship with your customers to refer your referral partners.

There are ways to refer outside of your professional circle. Always remain professional and never jeopardize your reputation by giving out a horrible referral. The purpose to refer your referral partners to your customers is keeping you in front of your customer. You want your customer to think of you whenever they need someone or some company. Your referral partners are there to help keep you in the mind of your customer.

The secret to word of mouth marketing is to do what you can when you can. Decide today to help your customers by giving them business or people that can help their business or home. You can ever go wrong when you have the right idea to help your customers versus helping your referral partners. Let your customer know that you do have outside resources for them whenever they require outside resources. When your referral partners become more important than your customer you have lost more than you know.


About practicebetterbusiness

Author of Outside the Business Box: All about Sales Build a better you and increase your earning potential

Posted on June 19, 2013, in How to sell HVAC, How to sell plumbing, HVAC sales, plumbing sales, practicebetterbusiness.com, Referrals, Selling HVAC, Selling Plumbing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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