You love getting referrals, right?  So tell me, “Are you getting as many as you’d like?”  Most people tell me they A) love referrals but B) want more than they’re getting now.

Can you relate?   If so, I bet “too few referrals” isn’t reflecting a lack of desire on your part.  It’s more likely you lack a SYSTEM for getting referrals. Here’s what a ‘system’ for generating referrals will do for you . . .

Like Attracts Like. No one understands and values what you offer better than your existing business relationships.  Leveraging your existing business relationships is the most effective and efficient way for attracting new ones!

“Trust Me”. With all the hyperbole in advertising, credibility is hard to establish.  But if someone who knows, likes and trusts your client hears your client say your business is ‘The Real Thing’, you’re golden!

“Pay Me”. Yes, that’s correct.  Financial incentive generates referrals better than anything else.  You can do this without selling your soul — just see yesterday’s post for a creative way to generate referrals that is actually socially acceptable for all parties involved.

Control Costs. Whether you offer a ‘free dinner for two’ or a “25% discount” on a future purchase of your products or services, you can establish a ‘cost-per-customer’ you can live with and, best of all, you only pay for when someone (new) is paying you.

If referrals matter to you . . . Use a SYSTEM to generate them!

From time to time, I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at how incredibly indolent some people in business are.

So I’ve decided to create the “What Were You Thinking” award to recognize these people who inspire me with their ‘Bad Behavior’.

Today’s winner (LOSER!) is a contractor who worked on our home about two years ago.  Did good work, too.  Not long ago, a neighbor stopped by and asked, “Who did the work on your home?  We need to do the same thing at our house and wanted to know if you’d recommend your contractor.”

We were happy to oblige and gave our neighbor our contractor’s phone number.  Today, our neighbor stopped over.  “We wanted to let you know the guy you recommended . . . nice guy, but . . . he didn’t get back to us so . . . we’re going with a different company”.

That’s so wrong!  First, this contractor isn’t doing THAT good that he can afford to lose a piece of business that was put on the tee for him by us.  Second, at some level, it reflects badly on us.  And if asked, we’re not going to refer much less recommend this contractor to anyone else.  EVER!

Not Following-up with a Referral  . . . BURNS YOUR BRIDGES / SOURCES — Don’t Do It!

“If a friend, colleague, family member, etc. asked you . . .
on a scale of  ‘1 – 10’ . . . HOW LIKELY are you to refer us?”

I used to ask, “Would you refer us?”.  The problem with that kind of question is that it leaves no room for shades of grey.

So I’m advising you to use a 1 -10 scale to identify someone’s degree of willingness to refer.  This allows your client to tell you, “Well, I’d say 6”.  That should then prompt you to ask the next question: “OK, what would I have to change . . . for you to say “10”?”

Going to your clients to learn, directly, WHY you are so remark-able . . . is a key to becoming more refer-able. Remember, this is about learning what it takes, on your part, to be worthy of being referred.  And, If you’re not quite ‘there’ yet, this will tell you how to get there soon!

Becoming remark-able is no easy feat.  It’s not impossible, either. You have to look closely at your business or practice through a very important perspective — your client’s!  So . . . Question 4:

“If a friend or colleague asked you, “What does (our firm) do, really?  What would you tell them?”

This will reveal how your best brand ambassadors understand your value proposition.

Of course, what you learn may not align with what you want to hear!  If so, just remember, “The Truth Shall Set You Free” is very true.  In this case, knowledge IS power and it’s something you definitely want to know and understand more than you want to ignore.

Seeing your value through your clients’ eyes is a key in becoming a remarkable and referable practice!

“Change Happens” is a great saying.  Substitute anything else you’d like for ‘change’, but it does happen.  And growth accompanies it.  Usually.  Your business is no exception.

Feedback Makes You MORE Remark-able and Refer-able
Problem is . . . we don’t invite feedback about what we might want to change.  Not often enough.  Not from our clients.  But they know us best.  Right?  So invite feedback –– not to beat yourself up, but to make yourself and your business as competitive as possible!

So Question #3 is:  “WHAT would you change about our business . . . and, WHY?”
Listen closely.  You’ll hear opportunities to be even more remarkable than you are now.

Learning WHAT your best clients would change and WHY will keep you competitive, remarkable and very referable, too.

As helpful as it is to learn why YOU are so attractive to your Ideal Client, you’ll also want to know who else might be your client’s ‘Next Best . . . Fling’. So here’s question #2:
“If I wasn’t available to work with you . . . WHO ELSE would you consider using to gain the benefit I’ve provided to you?

Don’t take it personally, but you’re never the only fish in the sea.  Granted, you looked like the BEST fish to your client.  But there are others. There always are. So you want to know WHO ELSE your Ideal client is aware of and WHY they’d consider using them.

Asking ‘who else’ reveals your serious competitors.  Asking ‘why’ your Ideal Client feels they merit consideration reveals their value proposition.  This helps you position yourself and your services relative to your true competition.  A friend of mine – Fred Wergeles – calls this ‘competitive intelligence’.  Intelligence and insight are always good to have!

Learning who your competition is and why they’re attractive will help you remain more competitive!

Why do people perceive you and your business to be remarkable?

In The Referral Machine™ consultation project, you learn that being refer-able requires being remark-able. If people don’t find you remarkable, why would they refer anyone to you?  As John Jantsch, Founder of Duct Tape Marketing likes to say, “People don’t refer a BORING business”.

Survey Your Best (and, most recent!) Clients
When you do, you’ll want to learn several very specific things by asking equally specific questions.  Here’s the first one:

What moved you to choose our firm?”
This is NOT about what someone needed or wanted from you.  It’s about why you / your firm was the ‘Preferred Provider’ of the service you render.  You want to learn WHY, after the ‘beauty contest’ was over, your firm was the one wearing the tiara and carrying the roses!

Learn why you ‘stand out’ to the people who vote on your ‘value proposition’ with their checkbooks and pocketbooks and you have quite a powerful insight . . . one that will help you identify and maintain the competitive edge that will drive you to the bank a little more often, with a lot more money!

Learn why your firm ‘Stood Out’ from the competitors as a PREFERRED PROVIDER

Testimonials vs. Referrals
Testimonials are endorsements that address ‘obstacles’ that can keep a prospective client from taking a ‘Next Step’ with you.  That’s why you collect and use testimonials –– to address obstacles to taking action by a prospect for your services.

Referrals are endorsements that position you as a PREFERRED PROVIDER of your services relative to other firms or providers in your field or marketing area. The referror’s endorsement of you makes selling your services much, much easier than if you meet prospects through other means.

Remark-ability is THE key to Refer-ability
In The Referral Machine™ — a program I offer, we contend that to be refer-able you must also be remark-able. Meaning?  People won’t refer TO you if they don’t think much OF you.

A Remark-able Experience is an Aligned Experience
When the experience you offer aligns with the expectations (or, exceeds them) of your Ideal Client, you have a competitive edge, marketing-wise.  So how do you learn what makes you remark-able?  ASK your clients.  Your best clients.  The ones who’ve already voted for you with their money.

In the next posts, I’ll show you precisely how to learn the basis of your remarkability (and, referability) by asking a few select questions of your best clients.  Stay tuned!