By Dick Wooden on May 23, 2011 at 8:30 AM
MY IDEAL CUSTOMER IS YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER: First Steps to Building Your Referral Network
Have you ever noticed how attorneys seem to share clients with financial advisors? They are strategic partners—that is, their ideal customers are the same. Most likely, you have some strategic partners, too. Maybe you already know who some of them are, but you’d like to find more. Here are some ideas for developing a strong network of strategic partners.
1. Compile a list of businesses that you have reason to think might fit the description of a strategic partner for you. Maybe you have been their customer. Maybe your customers mention them to you. Maybe you have already collaborated with this business to provide a comprehensive solution to customers. HINT: Don’t overlook competitors. Think hard about whether there might be a way to collaboratively maximize the benefit you offer to a client. Refer to your CRM system for the contact information and knowledge you already have about your partners, vendors and competitors.
John Jantsch, author of The Referral Engine, cautions that your over-riding filter needs to be this question: “Would I feel 100 percent confident referring my best customer to this business?”
2. Develop a process that makes it easy for you and your strategic partners to refer your customers to each other. This starts with education. I send my potential strategic partners a simple form that asks these four questions:
- How would I spot your ideal client? Remember that the person doing the referring can only spot what they can see or hear.
- How would I best communicate what you do? How do you like your product or service to be explained? What makes you unique?
- What is your client referral process? Tell me a little about how you introduce yourself to clients I might refer? In other words, how do you follow up on a referral?
- What are others saying about your company? Insert a couple of testimonials here.
With this form, send one that you’ve already answered as it applies to your business. This serves two purposes: Not only does it demonstrate how you want them to fill out the form, but it also gives them information that makes it easy to refer customers to you. Example of our "How to Refer Success with CRM Consulting" form.
Of course in addition to a form, you’ll want to actually meet your fellow business owners and get to know each other. Maybe you’ll find that you’re a great fit as strategic partners. Then again, maybe your ideal customers are not quite the same. Therefore, when you meet, don’t expect immediate referrals. You’re laying groundwork.
Use your CRM system to capture details of what you learn, whether in person or on paper, to support your growing strategic partner network. After all, the more value you can provide for your customers, the more value they’re likely to return to you.
Referral Network blog posts
Referral Marketing blog posts
Business (Relationship) Development blog posts
What can your business gain by improving your strategic partner network and obtained more powerful referrals?