This article was first published on LinkedIn.
Being in a service based business (consulting, finance, coaching, fitness, you name it) means getting the right leads is critical to your success, and sanity.
The hustle is fun in the first year or so, at least for the extroverts among us (helloooo, let’s grab a cofee!). Getting out there, meeting with prospects, being seen at all the haunts, and eventually being recognised. It’s a fine balance of networking to get your name out there, and getting back to the office to actually doing the work for your existing clients.
The problem? It’s unsustainable.
Those who have been in business for any length of time will know that you can’t survive on the hustle alone… you need referral partners.
Simply put, a referral partner is a person or a business that is actively sending you referrals.
Building these relationships takes time but once established can be the key to growing your business quickly. Here are some quick reasons why:
It’s basic maths. Instead of reaching out to 50 people, connecting with 10 potential clients, and converting 2 of them into paying clients, you can use that time to connect with 1-2 good referral partners who will recommend you to 10 potential clients, where you have the potential to convert more of them. Why? Because…
84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services. [ Nielson]
These recommendations are coming from someone they trust, usually someone they are already paying for a service, meaning the trust is higher. If they have an interest in your services, and they take the initiative to get in touch, it means they are already highly engaged, and willing to take the next step. Good news because the…
In service businesses, especially high value services like finance, the sales cycle is usually quite long, sometimes spanning months. Having someone else make the recommendation, pass on your details means all you’re virtually doing is waiting for their phone call (hopefully you’re doing more!). That cuts out a lot of the time it takes to qualify the leads, educate them, and negotiate terms.
Once a few of these relationships are established, you should be in a position to create systems to automate the majority of this process, which is something I help my clients establish. This gives you the opportunity to scale the system, take on exponentially more referral partners, and skyrocket the growth of your business.
So before you get there, you’re left facing a challenge.
How do you find these referral partners?
There are some that just make sense.
• Mortgage brokers teaming up with accountants.
• Real estate agents teaming up with lawyers.
• Personal trainers connecting with nutritionists.
Birds of a feather flock together. The challenge there is that, it’s already crowded. Chances are, anyone worth their salt in similar industries is already committed to another referral relationship.
Well, here are 2 steps to think outside of the box and identify referral partners in greener pastures.
What motivates them? What makes them tick? What gets them excited?
I recently did this exercise with a client in the finance space, and she identified that her ideal clients were young professionals who want to live their ideal life. Perfect!
Here are some questions to get you started:
– Where do they want to be in 5/10 years?
– What do they like to splurge on?
– How do they spend their holidays?
The more specific your answers, the better you’ll be able to identify the next step.
Human beings don’t think in terms of their needs, we have a reptilian brain that is driven by emotion, and we try to satisfy them any way we can.
Let’s assume you’re in the finance space, and you’ve identified that your ideal clients are young parents who are driven to provide a secure future for their children.
Where else do these parents go to to fulfill that drive? Swimming lessons? music lessons? Kids footy club? What other ways do they meet this drive??
Wouldn’t it make sense to connect with business owners in those industries to see if it makes sense to connect with them?
Using these 2 steps, you can write out a list of businesses that are not immediately obvious, making it easier to connect with referral partners that aren’t inundated with offers from others in your space.
What do you think? Give it a go, and write down what you get from step 1 “What drives your ideal clients?”.
(Feel free to respond in the LinkedIn comments here… Who knows, you might find someone to connect with right here.)