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THE ISSUE:
Someone you’ve been referred to can’t be reached and isn’t returning your calls.  Nothing else can happen until this is done.  It’s frustrating.  But, it can be addressed.

THE INSIGHT/S:
Assume your referrals are distracted and self-absorbed.  Why?  Because they are!  Consequently, ‘breaking through the clutter’ won’t be easy unless you can appeal to what they perceive to be either a) potential threats to their safety or life and/or b) possible opportunities that will improve their position.

THE RECOMMENDATION:
Focus someone’s attention on what they don’t know . . . and ignorance isn’t going to be bliss, either!

THE ACTIONS:

Research . . . your referral to learn what would cause PAIN or offer GAIN

Appeal . . . to your referral’s self interest . . . based on what your research suggests

Wait . . . for a response from your referral . . . it will happen if you’ve done the above correctly

You’re Invited . . .
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http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-suffering-pain-businesswoman-headache-image25232862

Granted, the title sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it?  But it’s true!

The prestigious Harvard Business Review recently published an article that validates this is, in fact, true.

This particular article originated from a 2006 study in which the researchers demonstrated a direct connection between moral purity and physical purity.  It’s actually called The Macbeth Effect.

In the rather gory Shakespearean play, Macbeth . . .  Lady Macbeth literally has ‘blood on her hands’ and indulges in incessant hand-washing as a result.

Lady Macbeth’s famous line, “Out, out…spot”  wasn’t referring to the dog who wanted to go out to do his business.  It was actually the blood on her hands from the intrigues of the play that prompted that line.  But, I digress . . . 🙂

Why Business Networking Makes You Feel Dirty

Believing that moral lapses lead to physical feelings of being impure or ‘dirty’, these brave social scientists set out to test their hypothesis that when you engage in business networking — it evokes feelings of being non-authentic (ergo ‘dirty’) more often and more intensely than if you engage in social networking with your friends.

I won’t bore you with their marvelous methodology, but . . . they proved their hypothesis!

There IS a correlation between engaging in business networking that produces feelings of being ‘unclean’ that social networking doesn’t generate.  Which, is why we sometime hear someone say, “I need to take a shower after going to a networking event”.  In many ways, they’re not kidding!

Networking Isn’t The Problem, It’s Your Motivation For Doing It

The research study didn’t just reveal that many people feel, well . . . ‘dirty’ when they network for business, they revealed an important insight into why!

One of the groups examined in this study was lawyers.  (Please, no jokes).

The researchers looked at how senior partners vs. newer associates in a law firm felt after engaging in business networking.  They found senior partners felt LESS ‘dirty’ as a result of networking activity than the newer associates felt after doing the very same thing.

It’s About Value . . . Who’s Got It and Who Needs It

The conclusion of the study was that business networking is an activity that does not, by itself, make anyone feel dirty. But the degree of self-interest being exhibited by someone in a networking exchange was far more likely to determine if they felt dirty or not.

Think about it.  The partners were going into a networking exchange with (usually) more value than their junior associates.  In their case, value meant these partners were bringing substantial resources into a networking exchange — their extensive network of connections, access to resources of all kinds, etc. was much greater than what a junior legal associate might bring into a networking exchange.

Are You a ‘Giver’ or a ‘Taker’?

On the other hand, a newer associate has relatively less power to bring into a networking exchange and a lot of reason to seek to take something valuable out of it — can you help me find a good position, can you mentor me in the firm, can you tell me who are the players in town, etc. These newer legal associates bring more need than power into a networking exchange and, that generates feelings that make them feel ‘needy’ and that’s not a good feeling to have.  Neither is feeling dirty.  See the connection?

“Is This About Me or . . . About You?”

The study concluded that you’re LESS likely to feel dirty from business networking IF:

1) you believe you have valuable ‘resources’ — contacts, information, etc. — to offer, and

2) you seek to give value to others more than you seek to gain value for yourself

That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

untitledTake an extreme situation.  Let’s say you’re playing ‘Santa Claus’ for a kid’s holiday party.  Everybody’s going to love you.  So why would your role as the great benefactor (Santa) and the ‘resources’  you bring (presents) make you feel badly or, ‘dirty’ in any way?  Answer: it wouldn’t be possible!

Now take a different but equally ‘extreme’ situation.  You’ve lost your job.  You haven’t been able to find another.  You’re low on funds.  You’re feeling depressed, hungry and getting a little desperate, too.  You hear about a Community Christmas party sponsored by The Salvation Army.  There will be food and gifts for the homeless and unemployed.

You never saw yourself ever attending an event like this when you were working but, this year, things have changed.  Drastically.  You decide to attend.  Reluctantly.

So why are you attending?  Are you planning to give anything to anyone.  Nope.  Your motivation is to take value for yourself.

Nothing wrong with that.  Especially if you’re going through a difficult time in your life.  But that also changes your mental framework of the ‘exchange’ event from one where your motivation is to give . . . to one where your motivation is to take . . . value away from the exchange.

The BIG Takeaways!

Networking is a Contact Sport
If you want to network effectively, you have to go and show up.  Networking is, by definition, a ‘contact’ sport. Like the lottery commercials say, “You can’t win if you don’t play”.

Framework Matters
If you don’t view networking in a positive light, you’ll find all kinds of reasons not to do it.  And, if you don’t do it (or, rarely), you won’t develop this important business building skill.

Attitude Matters
An attitude that empowers you to network with others comes when you see yourself as:

1)  bringing great value to others in every exchange you have with people, and

2)  seeking to give your value to others more than you seek gain for yourself

BNI’s Ivan Meisner had it right long ago – “Givers Gain”.  Now you know why!

Life is a Party . . . And You’re The Host
My mother was very successful in real estate.  Her career spanned 42 years.  She threw a lot of parties over the years.  Invariably, she would greet a guest when they arrived and say, “I’m so glad you’re here.  Come with me . . . I have someone I want you to meet”.  Mom was connector.  She was always adding value to other people in her own inimitable way.

One day I asked her the secret for her success.  She said, “Billy, life is a party.  You’re the host.  You’re responsible for making everyone feel good for attending your party.  Do that and you’ll be successful.”  And that’s why I use the phrase, “I want to be a party to your party”.  Life’s good.  Networking makes it even better.  Seeking to serve others ultimately serves you, too.

POINT:
You’re The HOST — it’s your party to share your value with with your guests.

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money magnetFew outcomes of significance — like generating more and better referrals for your practice — requiring the coordination of time, skills, efforts and people happen “by accident”.  Usually, planning is involved.

The Moon Landing, the Apollo 13 recovery, America’s declaration of independence from England, your having the best year year ever due to generating better referrals and introductions than ever . . . are examples of what’s possible when you make plans to make something important happen for you and your practice.

Referrals Don’t Happen By Themselves!

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past about generating referrals for yourself.  What you want to remember is that you’ll never be as good at generating high-quality referrals today as you’ll be tomorrow . . . assuming, of course, that’s important to you in 2015.

One of the keys to improving the quality and increasing the quantity of your referrals and introductions is the use of a SYSTEM.  In The Preferral Prospecting® System we use to coach advisors, there are four (4) key elements of a referral system that, used correctly, consistently and conscientiously can significantly improve the quality and increase the quantity of revenue-building connections, introductions and referrals your practice needs to grow:

1.  Profile . . . of the kind of person who can best understand, desire and afford your services

2.  Sources . . . people who can introduce you to people they know who fit your Profile

3.  Method . . . what you must DO and SAY to generate introductions and referrals

4.  Action Plan . . . the daily activities you must take to use our system and see results

You Can Make 2015 Your Best Year Ever . . . IF . . . You Plan To Do So

Pull Quote 122214When I was a consultant for LIMRA International, the esteemed trade association for the financial services industry in the US and around the world, I was taught a powerful planning process by Gordon A. Kratz, CLU who was a Director in the Company Operations division.  It was based on a simple process for planning: “DOME”.

D . . . Diagnosis is the first thing you want to do.
Some call it ‘situational assessment’.  Basically it means taking stock of what you have (and, what you don’t have!) to help you achieve your BHAG — your ‘Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals’.  But wait.  You don’ t set goals here in this step.  That comes next.

O . .  bjective is the second step.
This is scary easy to screw up –– and your plans and results will show it if you do!

This step is not where you set a goal to “Increase sales by 25% in 2015”.  This is where you set goals to reduce or eliminate any factor that’s limiting your ability to achieve that kind of goal.

Let’s get away from referrals for a moment.   Let’s say your kid, in middle school, announces, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up”.  That’s a BHAG, isn’t it?  It’s laudable.  But not helpful.  What’s better?  Smaller goals! Like getting A’s in math, chemistry, physics, biology, etc.  Why?  Because if those goals are NOT achieved, your kid won’t be qualified to get into a decent pre-med program, apply to any medical school and, if he or she is able to stay ‘on course’ over many years . . . become a medical doctor.

M . . . Method is the third step.  This is where the ‘nitty-gritty’ actions are chosen and coordinated into do-able Action Plans that, when completed, mean the goals are accomplished and the BHAG is more likely to be realized, as well.  My buddy in high school wanted to be a doctor.  Only problem, he sucked at math.  Fortunately, his family could afford to send him to a prep school for 2 more years.  That action built the math and science skills he needed to not only get into a good university but made him academically able to handle the rigors of a pre-med course of studies and qualify, eventually, to apply to medical school.  Today, he’s a radiologist and doing very well.  But if he didn’t overcome his inadequacies in math and science, he might be doing something other than practicing medicine later in life.

E . . . Evaluation is the last step.  This is where you assess your progress-to-goal on a regular basis.  It’s really no different that your Diagnosis step, EXCEPT . . . this is done, periodically, AFTER  your plan is underway.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image18105419Did you know the Apollo astronauts were only ‘on course’ during their lunar missions about 2% of the time. Shocking, isn’t it?  BUT . . . by evaluating if they were ‘on course’ regularly and frequently, they were able to make minor course corrections — fire their guidance rockets for a few seconds here and there — when they weren’t.  As a result, they achieved their Big Hairy Audacious Goal . . . they successfully went to the moon and returned safely.

How This Applies to You Generating More Referrals . . . in 2015

Knowing the process of planning to make things happen is one thing.  Actually using it to reach the Big Hairy Audacious Goals you have for your tax or financial planning practice is a little more involved.  Not impossible.  Just easier said than done.

Regardless, what I want you to take away from this post is that if you want more / better referrals in 2015, you must PLAN to make that happen.  And not just set a fluffy goal like, “Get more referrals than I did in 2014”.  No, you must assess if you have a system for generating referrals and if it’s working for you (assuming you’re also using it!).  If not, THAT . . . is a legitimate factor that will limit your ability to generate the quantity and quality of referrals and introductions in 2015 that you want.  So THAT . . . calls for a ‘goal’ to eliminate that situation.

Specifically, I urge you to set a goal to find, use and benefit from a proven system for generating referrals by design, not accident.

POINT:
Make a goal . . . to find and use a proven system for generating referrals in 2015

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Referral partner discussionHere’s a dirty little secret  hiding in plain sight . . . everyone can’t (or, won’t) connect you to people in their circles who can buy what you do and/or refer you to others who can.

I know.  It’s not easy to accept, is it?  After all, you want to believe that everyone and anyone not only CAN help you connect with qualified prospects, but they WILL do so.  Happily and readily.

RINGGG!!  RINGGG!!  Wake- up call!  That’s not the way it is.

The Right Person Makes Referrals More Likely!

When you take the time and make the effort to identify, approach and gain the commitment of the right kind of person, you will see a number of benefits:

 1.   You’ll generate more introductions and receive better referrals
2.   You’ll grow your  base of connections quickly and easily
3.   You’ll meet quality people who don’t waste your time
4.   You’ll enjoy a consistent flow of introductions and referrals
5.   You’ll close business sooner rather than later

Pull Quote 121914I could on (and, on) but I think you get the basic idea.  Having the right kind of person to work with will help you generate more business, more quickly and far more easily than if you don’t.  It’s that simple.

Want To Meet More People, By Referral? 

One key to generating more referrals than you can handle (a problem you’d love to have, right!) is to work ONLY with people and partners who can help you make your goal of working primarily by referral . . . a reality.

This means you must seek introductions and referrals ONLY from someone who:

1.   Respects you, professionally
2.  Knows the kind of people you want to meet (i.e. fit your Preferral Profile)
3.  Has potency with the people you want to meet from their network
4.  Will introduce you to these people — if approached properly

In addition, the kind of person you want as a Connection or Preferral Partner must also:

5.  Offer a complementary, non-competitive service to the same target market/s you are
6.  Be able to receive introductions to people you know who fit their Preferral Profile
7.  Be actively seeking to grow their practice . . . i.e. they’re not ‘gliding into retirement’

Of course, the absolutely-you-can’t-do-jack-without-it factor is :::drum roll::: TRUST.

Without trust, no one will introduce or refer you to their contacts because the RISK of losing their Relationship Capital is simply too great.  So whatever else you do, establish trust, first.

POINT:
Knowing who to avoid, makes it easier to identify people who can help you generate referrals

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What’s Your TRUST FACTOR?
People who know and like you are likely to trust you.  Trust is evidence you have relationships that allow access to the contact networks of others and that allows you to generate referrals for your business.  And, as you know, more referrals = more revenues, profits and owner equity.

Why is TRUST Important?
To build business, you want referrals.  The more people who allow you to leverage their TRUST of you, through their endorsement of you to their network contacts, the more referrals you’ll see from it.

Why Relationships Matter
Consider this . . . the average person has a contact network or sphere of influence with 200 people — more or less.  So building a solid relationship with people whose contacts are most likely to 1) understand, 2) value, 3) desire and 4) afford what you do, the more opportunities for referrals you’ll be generating.

Strategic Alliances
One of the types of relationships you’ll want to establish and maintain is with someone who satisfies the following characteristics:

1.  they are highly regarded and trusted by people in their contact network

2.  they know or have clients who look like your ‘best clients,

3.  they know, like and trust you . . . i.e. ‘raving fan’ material, and,

4.  they are willing to introduce you to select members of their network

 If you will build a strong relationship with 25 people who serve the same kind of client as you do — with complementary vs. competitive services or products — then you should be seeing both referrals (inbound leads from receptive individuals) and Preferrals (outbound introductions to qualified individuals).

The numbers of Reality
Let’s say you have 25 Strategic Alliances.  On a quarterly basis, that means you could be meeting (I prefer lunch) with 2 of your alliances each week.  Now, because they already know, like and trust you AND you’ve been able to give as well as receive . . . they’re coming to lunch with the full understanding that this is a time to exchange introductions to people in their network who share characteristics in common with people who are your ‘Ideal Client’ and you’re coming to lunch to do the same thing for them.

Assume you manage to collect, on average, 5 names of people who may, sooner or later, be likely to need the services (and, outcomes!) you offer.  That’s ten (10) preferred introductions (Preferrals) a week . . . 40 or so a month.  So what happens when you follow up?

Roughly 1/3 will say something that means there’s no future — e.g. “Oh, did I tell you my wife is a CPA and does all our tax work?”.  See, it’s over before it gets going.

Another 1/3  will express interest in what you do but have no current need for it.  If they invite you to ‘stay in touch’, you have a ‘future opportunity’ you can cultivate, over time, until one of either ‘coughs up’ or ‘gives up’.

Finally, 1/3 will be interested and receptive to some kind of immediate ‘next step’ . . . a meeting to get better acquainted, an agreement to take your online survey and schedule a debriefing call or meeting, etc.

The REAL Payoff — “Life Gets Much Better!”
Over time, as you build up your database of people who share characteristics in common with your best clients, and they invite you to keep-in-touch so you can stay-in-mind should they or someone they know ever need the service/s you provide, roughly 1/3 of the people you’re cultivating . . . will come ‘up’ each month . . . for a recall to requalify to remain in your Client Cultivation System, or ‘CCS’

Say you have just 240 qualified prospects in your CCS. That means that about 80 people are due, each month, for a ‘touch base’ call.  Now, because they already know you, it’s not a ‘cold call’.  As they’ve invited you to stay in touch, it’s a call with ‘permission’ — so you’re not intruding. And, assuming they were qualified to be cultivated in the first place, with each subsequent call, they (or, someone they know!) are getting closer to the time when they’ll need someone who does what you do.

It’s called ‘CULTIVATION’ for a reason — just as a farmer keeps the weeds away, the insects at bay and makes the water plentiful, so too must you, as a service provider, offer the ‘gentle care and feeding’ of the relationship known as ‘client’.  And if someone is not (yet) your client, keeping-in-touch on a regular basis and in a client-centric manner is one of the best ways to ‘harvest’ the seeds of success you’ve planted in the past.  It’s also a proven strategy to both differentiate yourself from others in your field, and build up client loyalty to you and your brand.

POINT:
 Relationships matter.  Cultivating relationships for both current and future revenue opportunities is a wise strategy to make your business or practice generate clients (and, the revenues they suggest!) consistently and efficiently.

I’m reading a research brief from The Center for Media Research . . . about the effectiveness of various marketing ‘tools’ or methods.

As you can see . . . the MOST EFFECTIVE means of generating new business opportunities are:

1.  Referrals . . . 59% of respondents agreed

2.  Networking . . . 57.4% 

2.  From Existing Clients . . . 57.4% . . . a TIE with ‘networking’

3.  Presentations or Speaking . . . 24.6%

KEY POINT:
While the world of marketing media has grown more digital and online . . . the prominence of ‘direct’ marketing . . . and building ‘personal’ relationships . . . has not gone out of favor!  Don’t forget this! 

If you’re wondering why the image of nice boats at a marina is being displayed, let me explain . . .

“I’d Like (a lot!) More Referrals!”
That’s the most frequently cited comment that I hear when I’m talking with providers in financial services, accounting, law, etc.  It’s a definite issue.  Maybe for you, too?

And why not?  After all, isn’t meeting a prospective client through a referral from someone who knows, likes and trusts you . . . about as good as it gets?  I sure think so.

Why You May Not Be Getting More Referrals

Reason #1:  You’re Not Asking
The most likely reason is that you’re not asking for them!  So obvious.  So true, too.

Reason #2:  No System
You don’t have a system for generating referrals. Referrals don’t happen by accident.  That’s why many people aren’t getting the quantity and quality of referrals they want on a consistent basis.

Reason #3:  No Skill
You have a system but you’re not skilled enough to be effective using it.

OK, So What’s with . . . The Boats?
Great question!  In our Preferral Prospecting System® — it’s like a referral, only better — we show you how to create a referral system based on four (4) elements:

Profile … of the ‘Ideal Person’ you’d like to meet
Source … of the Preferrals you’d like to receive — e.g. a ‘Center-of-Influence’
Method … the means for making your sources produce Preferrals
Plan … the coordinated schedule of actions that will generate the Preferrals you want

PROFILE . . . is based on a few observable characteristics . . . that correlate highly with the kind of people who truly understand what you do, value the benefits you offer and are willing and able to pay you a ‘fair’ price to enjoy them.

Some examples . . . “a CPA” . . . “a parent with children in private school” . . . “a homeowner” . . . etc.  The key is to choose a characteristic that doesn’t require someone to be psychic or make a subjective judgement that someone ‘needs’ whatever benefits you offer.  And that’s why we have those ‘boats’ in today’s post.

One of my clients, a financial advisor, has found that asking, “Do you know anyone who owns a big _ _ _ boat — 42′ or bigger that is kept at a marina on Long Island Sound?” is the ONLY profile characteristic he needs to use to gain an introduction to someone who is most likely to understand, value and afford his services.  See how that works?

KEY POINT:
Developing a PROFILE of your Ideal Client, based on observable characteristics, is a key element in creating a system for generating more and better referrals for your practice.


I Have $2,500 worth of Value . . . Waiting For You to Download
No.  I’m not kidding.  If you’re seeking a wonderful resource that will truly help you market your business, products and services BETTER in 2012 than you are now . . . I have been authorized to give you a complimentary gift worth $2,500.  Click the link above to get it!

  All you must do is DOWNLOAD IT . . . before November 29, 2011  

The ‘gift’ is a download of some 33 audio MP3’s and a workbook PDF that other business people paid $2,500 to enjoy.  And now, it’s yours.  FREE of charge. No strings attached.

WHY . . . you’re being granted access to this gift
The brilliant brain behind this offer is Sean D’Souza.  Sean lives in New Zealand.  He moved there from Mumbai, India.  He heard doing so would allow him to live closer to Antarctica.  Go figure.  He’s had a stellar career in advertising and is passionate about helping business owners market their products and services more effectively.  I am a client and a ‘Raving Fan’.

This is ‘Green’ Marketing . . . Recycling At Its Best
When Sean has a program like The Brain Achemy Masterclass sell sufficient ‘seats’ that he’s recovered his development costs many times over, he will use it to introduce himself and his approach to marketing to new prospects through . . . ta da . . . old clients.  Most of whom are his ‘Raving Fans’.  Like me.

What Sean is Doing Is Brilliant
Sean does not give his Brain Alchemy Masterclass away . . . without charge or strings attached.  Sean’s clients do that.  For Sean.

It’s Not About The Gift . . . It’s About The Gift-er!!
If Sean offered you a ‘Free Copy’ of his program or I offered you a copy, the net effect, financially speaking, is the same.

The difference in having a client like me give you this same ‘gift’ is because I’m adding my tacit endorsement of Sean.  If I have ANY influence, prestige, potency, regard, etc. with you . . . then I am infusing that credibility into the offer I’m making to you  . . . in a way that Sean, by himself, could never do.

Social Networks Offer Marketing Opportunities . . . IF . . . You Use Them Effectively
Each person in your world (or, network) has a network of their own.  Some of their network contacts may be very qualified prospects for the problem-solving expertise and services you offer.  So here’s my question, “Can you benefit from what Sean is doing?”  Specifically, “Can you DO what Sean is doing here?”

Here’s the formula:

Create / Select an ITEM OF VALUE — preferably a high quality MP3 of PDF that reveals your problem-solving expertise

Craft an OFFER — that your ‘fans’ — prospects, clients and COI’s can share with their network contacts

Promote it to your NETWORK OF INFLUENCE — give them the ‘glory’ of gifting it because you’ll get their traffic soon enough

It’s a wonderful way for everyone involved to win . . . you’ll win with new people being favorably introduced to you by people whom they already know, like and trust.  Your ‘fans’ win by demonstrating the value of being part of their network of influence.  Finally, their network contacts win by finding out about a superb resource in your field — you.

KEY POINT:
Your Network is an asset . . . give the people who know, like and trust you a way to introduce you to their contacts . . . and enjoy the ride! 

The popular belief is that you do ‘marketing’ to ‘fill your selling pipeline’. True enough. But your ‘mix’ of:

1.  referrals,
2.  advertising, and
3.  public relations

varies with your Ideal Client, target market and available budget.

So the way you’ll choose to use referrals, advertising and PR to generate selling opportunities will, of necessity, be unique to you and your business.

Marketing Synergy . . . When The Whole is Greater Than The Sum of The Parts
Marketing pros have long held that someone needs to see or hear about you 7 times BEFORE they’re likely to even be aware of you much less consider responding to your marketing offers. While the numbeer of contacts required may vary, the basic principle is sound.

A marketing ‘contact’ can result from seeing your ad, getting a referral to you via word-of-mouth, reading your special report, attending your webinar, reading your client case studies or client testimonials, and so on.

Together your lead-generation trio helps you build the ‘know, like and trust’ your prospects need to take action on your offers to ‘try or buy’ what you’re selling.

KEY POINT:
Referrals, advertising and PR can easily fuel up your ‘lean, mean marketing machine’ — if you use them consistently and conscientiously. 

In The Last Year . . . Have You Referred Us to Others?

There’s an old adage, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”.  I like this one, too: “Clients Vote With Their Wallets”.  Both are very true.

The value of knowing that your clients are referring you to others / others to you is a SYMPTOM or EVIDENCE of how well you’re performing for your clients and how committed your clients are to you.

No business will please everyone 100% of the time.  But you can assess your performance periodically and use the likelihood of clients referring you as a benchmark of the experience you offer your clients.

Frederick Reicheld, a partner in the prestigious consulting firm Bain & Company, developed what he calls the Net Promoter Score.  This is a metric reflecting the overall effect you’ll enjoy (or, suffer!) based on how many of your clients will (net of those who won’t) promote you and your business to people in their networks of influence.

KEY POINT:
Learn your Net Promoter Score . . . and make it move ever higher!