3 Ways to Capitalize on a Referral Source Call
Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.
Lee Rosen recently blogged about 5 Ways to Mess Up a Referral Source Call. He was talking about how some people make contact with a potential referral source, then start selling themselves and virtually assure that they’ll never get any referrals from that contact.
I commend you to his post as an easy-to-digest reminder of 5 common blunders. They all boil down to being far more interested in getting your message out, than in listening to the other person and finding out how you can help them.
Now that you know what not to do, what can you do to make it more likely that the contact will actually turn into a referral source? That really boils down to 3 basic principles.
1. Find a way to help them with something.
This is the number one way to get more referrals. Studies show that when someone gives us a gift or does us a favor, we have an urge to respond in kind. So make an effort to send them a referral or at least make an introduction that they might benefit from. If you can’t do that right now, is there some information or a resource you can share? Maybe it’s a link to an article that provides an answer to a question or problem they mentioned.
By way of example, I met someone by phone who served my same target market with a non-competing product. I thought she had a useful product, so I made a few efforts to tell people about it, usually dropping a little note to her, in case they called. Nothing panned out initially, but when she referred a paying client to me, I felt a lot more motivated! Perhaps my efforts on her behalf spurred her to remember me. I assure you that I will remember her.
2. Keep in touch.
I know. As busy as we all are, it’s not that easy. However, you will likely be forgotten if all you ever do is exchange an email or meet for coffee one time. If you have an email newsletter, would it be appropriate to send it to them? Would it be appropriate to invite them to any events sponsored by a networking or industry group you’re involved in? Would they be someone good to write an article or be a speaker for an organization you’re involved in? Maybe just drop an email occasionally to ask how they are doing. Sometimes even one reconnection a year can be sufficient to keep you on their radar.
Today social media makes it much easier to keep in touch. If you connect to them on Facebook or LinkedIn and post useful information or updates on your activities, they will be reminded of you in a favorable way on a regular basis. Be sure to comment on their postings every now and then, too.
3. Explain how you help your clients.
It is easy to go astray here, as Lee Rosen illustrated with the 5 blunders. That’s why I put this last on the list. Always start with being interested in others’ business first. When you ask about them, they will usually reciprocate by asking about you. When you have an opportunity to talk about what you do, tell an illustrative success story. Your potential referral source will be a better advocate for you if they have a success story to share, and they’ll remember you better, too. (For more tips on how to be memorable, read Get Remembered.)
If they don’t reciprocate by asking about you, you can work it into the conversation with something like “I’m glad to know how you help people with their financial planning. My estate planning and probate clients have a lot of complicated issues, and I like to know about additional resources for them. For example, when I developed a plan for a $20 million estate involving foreign properties, I also helped my client with finding someone to…”
Newsletters, blog posts, and social media updates can also remind people of how you can be of service. Just go lightly on the self-promotion by presenting it in a way that serves others when you can.