July 8, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Referrals Are a Two Way Street

In last week’s topic, we touched on referrals, the life blood of any business.  If you do not agree with that belief, we need to have an in-depth, serious discussion, preferably face-to-face.  Tom Hopkins, the imminent sales and marketing guru, as well as every other marketing expert, believes and teaches the importance of referrals.  If you are not trying to move your business to be referral-based from one based on cold calling (where you attempt to sell to anyone, and everyone, you meet), you look forward to lots of frustration.

What is a referral?  It is not you telling someone about a business that you noticed while driving down the street, thinking that they should cold call the business.  It is not you telling another business owner that you gave someone their name, but you can’t remember the other person’s name or number.  These are useless gestures and should be banished to a trash heap.  They are insults to the networking relationships that we should be building with others whom we meet and whom we should get to know, like, and trust.

A referral is someone that you honestly believe should become acquainted with, and perhaps do business with, another business.  You should know, like, and trust both parties to every referral.  You should inform both parties of the referral, providing both parties’ information to the other.  In short, you should introduce them to each other.  Is it necessary that they develop a sales arrangement with each other?  It may be beneficial to either of them that they know each other and provide information, perhaps only more referrals, to each other.

It is ideal if one of the parties engages in a sales agreement with the other.  It is even more ideal if both parties decide to purchase from the other.  However, they may just become networking partners with each other, providing referrals and information to each other.  Referrals are a two way street, and both parties should benefit in some manner.  If one has something that the other needs, great.  If both can provide for the needs of the other, that is even better.  If neither can fill the needs of the other, perhaps they know others who can.

When someone passes you a referral, act on it without fail and without delay.  After all, the other person should be waiting for your call.  Even better, they should be calling you if both parties received the same introductory information.  If you don’t call, you have failed the introducing party.  If the other party does not receive your inquiry well, or does not want to engage in the getting acquainted process, let the referring person know the situation.  After all, they went to the trouble of trying to make a match; they deserve to know what happened.

If the referral works out for the benefit of you, or the other party, thank the referring party, perhaps with a gift.  After all they just gave you new business; they put money into your pocket.  A small token of your appreciation is called for and will not cost much.  It shows “class” on your part and is the “right thing” to do.  There are several types of businesses which are restricted in what they can do for a successful referral.  Often a simple thank you card is sufficient.  I personally believe that everyone likes to be thanked and noticed for their referrals.

What are your thoughts on referrals and what are your stories?  Share your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Maybe our experiences are very similar, both good and bad, as we try to base our businesses on referrals instead of on cold calling strangers.

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