Building Your Referral Business

Generating leads from referrals is both an art and science. There are time-proven steps (the science part) you can take that will provide the highest probability of success, but there is the human factor (the art part) that seems to be a determining factor in the results you will achieve. If you haven’t read my article about Referral Misconceptions now would be a good time.

Shaking Hands

Following are a few ideas to get you started.

Step 1 – Build a Database

Whether it is in Excel, Outlook, Maximizer, Top Producer, Gold Mine, Act or any other Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software it does not matter as much as actually doing it.

Who should go in it? Clients, friends, prospects, neighbours, family and vendors you work with to name a few.

Step 2 – Categorize your Database

Within each category you need to re-categorize them. Some people use A, B and C to qualify their likelihood to refer clients. You can use hot, warm or cold, but most importantly be honest with yourself whether the person is likely to refer clients to you.

Step 3 – Get Back in Touch

Develop a plan for the next 12 months to re-connect with all of the clients on the list. The A clients may justify 12 touches, the Bs 6 touches and the Cs 4 touches. What is a touch? Begin reconnecting through activities such as personal notes, direct mail, letter writing, email, newsletter phone calls calls, visits, client parties and business luncheons. At every opportunity it’s important to communicate your appreciation and to remind them that you’re never too busy for their referrals. this is often referred to as give-to-get marketing, give them information, your time, your interest in them and ask for their referrals.
One client I work with has “touched” their A clients for 9 months in a row and the referral business is taking off. What does an effective plan look like? Here is a really rough example:

Month 1 – Letter re-acquainting and perhaps explaining your absence. Ask for their referrals.
Month 2 – Letter with attached list of services or products you provide. Ask for their referrals and thank those clients publicly that have referred.
Month 3 -A letter with a useful memo pad.
Month 4 – A postcard listing all of the restaurants in the area or emergency numbers.
Month 5 – A letter with a market update….

You get the idea. A consistent, planned campaign to rebuild their trust and confidence, keep you at the top of their minds and constant education on how you can be of service to their friends, family and acquaintances.

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