Sunday, September 25, 2011
Where Do Your Best Referrals Come From?
Do they come from friends and family, professional contacts, other sales people, current and former customers, online acquaintances, or some other source? I’ve asked thousands of professionals that exact question and at least 95% respond that their best referrals by far come from their current and former customers.
If our best referrals come from our customers, then why do we expect to gain referrals quickly from people that we meet through networking activities? While it can happen, meaningful exchange with new acquaintances is rare. Significant exchange is normally the product of intimacy and trust which needs to be built over time.
Wouldn't it be more productive then to first view networking as a process to better serve our customers, thereby driving more customer advocacy and referral? Imagine being able to connect your most important customers to mission critical knowledge and relationships just when they need it.
Building the value that we can provide to each customer will increase our ability to better serve our customers specific wants and needs. As we become an invaluable resource for our customers their interest in advocating us increases. In fact, done right you won’t even need to ask for referrals, they’ll want to brag about you to their colleagues.
Instead of prospecting at networking events, identify potential resources for your best customers. Get together with these resources at their place of business. Learn about them. See examples of their work. Begin building a bullpen of A+ providers that will be available to you 24/7 to help solve your customers challenges.
The first and most important muscle to exercise in networking is to increase your ability to solve your customer problems. Your interest has to be totally focused on your customers success…not that of helping a resource (friend) of yours get more business. The better you do solve customer problems the more goodwill you will build and the more advocacy you will receive.
Stay tuned...next week we'll be taking a look at some specific professions that are really good at developing customers referrals and how they do it.