Last week, I met with my business partner in the Referral Institute, Mike Macedonio (seen below with me), and as we were discussing what it really takes to drive your business by referral, one of the first things Mike mentioned was that the first core competency of referral success is the need for correct knowledge. It didn’t surprise me that Mike would start with this; after all, we co-authored Truth or Delusion–Busting Networking’s Biggest Myths which directly adresses what works and what doesn’t work in referral marketing. In the book, Mike paraphrases Mark Twain’s statement about having correct knowledge, which appropriately says something to the effect of, It’s not what you know that will stand in the way of your success as much as what you know which isn’t so.
The second core competency in successful referral marketing is to stay engaged with your referral marketing plan. This is harder than it sounds. Many referral marketing concepts are counter intuitive. It’s like telling a driver to turn into a skid. This is not the natural reaction. Even when the driver understands it’s in his best interest to turn into the skid, it’s only when he does it that he learns how it actually works.
Referral marketing is the same way. When we’re going out looking for more business, it’s natural to look for qualified prospects and approach them. However, referral marketing shows us that we will be even more effective if someone who has a credible relationship with the prospect sent them to us. We understand this is in our best interest, however it may not be our natural reaction.
So, how do you get the business owner to network in a way that may not come naturally? Some of the solutions Mike and I discussed are to:
* Stay connected to blogs and podcasts on networking
* Participate in networking groups
* Get involved in ongoing referral trainings
The first two core competencies, obtaining correct knowledge and staying engaged with your referral marketing plan, apply to any personal or professional development programs and it is important to keep in mind that though they may be “simple,” they’re not “easy.”
The third core competency, implementing a system to train your network on how to refer you business, is the missing piece that most business people do not have in place to create referral success. No matter how brilliant you are in referral marketing, or how skillful you are in “leaning into the punch,” if your referral partners are inadequate your results will be insufficient.
Mike gave a great football analogy for this. He said, “What if Tom Brady, the most successful quarterback at this time, were to get on the field with a team that was lacking skills and knowledge of the game? Tom Brady would be throwing perfect spirals to players who can’t catch and don’t know their assignments. It wouldn’t take long for Tom to recognize that he’s better off just keeping the ball and running. This could be equated in business to direct prospecting. It is hard work for short yardage.
So, what can we learn from this? That if you make the three core competencies a priority, you will not only be on the right track for referral success, you will also be gaining much more “yardage” from your efforts!
What has your experience been and/or how do you think you can apply these ideas to your business?