The Referral Process–Step 8

Today is the day big day that those of you who’ve been following my blog series on the referral process have been waiting for . . . the day I’m going to talk about the final step–the step we all anticipate most:  Step 8–Closing the Deal.

By the way, feel free to catch up on the previous steps in the easy, eight-step referral process at any time by reading my blog entries about steps 1 & 2; step 3; step 4; and steps 5, 6, & 7.

  • Step 8.  Close the Deal

Now that you have your proposal done and you know all the details, go back to the prospect and close that deal! Once that’s done, don’t forget to implement your referral thank-you program to inspire your source to continue referring business to you.

You’ve probably been told that you have to contact most prospects 20 times or more before they will buy.  That may be true in ordinary marketing strategies, but in the eight-step referral process, the sale happens in as few as two calls.  Didn’t close on step 8?  No sweat . . . just repeat steps 5 through 7 until it’s a done deal.

The eight-step referral process is a formal procedure that is simple and comprehensive at the same time.  It includes every single step you might need to take in order to fully and properly develop a first-time referral. Keep in mind, many referrals, especially those you make with established contacts, are much simpler; for example, some don’t involve a referral source and thus require only a couple steps.

Have you tried any of the steps in the referral process yet?  If so, I’d love to hear about your experience and the results you’re getting.  Please feel free to comment!

The Referral Process–Step 3

The referral process (CLICK HERE to read a short overview of the referral process) can be broken down into eight easy steps. In a blog entry I posted last Monday, I explained step 1 (Your Source Discovers a Referral) and step 2 (Research the Referral).  Today, I am going to talk about step 3.

  • Step 3.  Check Back in with Your Referral Source

After learning all you can about the prospect’s company through your outside research, it’s a good idea, especially if the referral appears to be complex or of very high value, to call your referral source back to confirm or refine what you’ve learned about the prospect’s company.

You need to keep your referral source in the loop and out of trouble. Making her look good is a primary objective, perhaps even more important than the immediate sale, because you want this referral relationship to continue and to benefit both of you far into the future.

More important for your approach to the prospect, you need to know more about him personally, which is something you can assume your referral source is particularly well positioned to help you with.

Try to learn about what sort of individual you’ll be dealing with. What’s his personality type?  Is he detail oriented?  If so, he might want to see a lot of collateral material or samples.  Is he hard driving and results oriented?  He might just want to talk about your offerings, see your track record, and make a quick judgment.  Does he like to have fun while he’s doing business?  Perhaps you’ll join him on the golf course.  If he’s all business, the office environment is probably better.

What are the prospect’s goals?  Why is he interested in your products or services?  Is he happy with his current provider or looking for a change?  Is he ready to do business with you immediately based on the referral, or is he sending out requests for proposals to other companies?

What you don’t want to do is charge at the prospect with no idea of what is expected or desired.  Having some certainty about these factors will help you put together a powerful presentation that is tailored to the individual and his company.  This will help you accomplish your two most important objectives: closing the sale quickly and making your referral source look good.

If you have a testimonial you’d like to share about a time you successfully executed step 3 in the referral process and how it made for great results, or a story about how you learned the importance of step 3 after neglecting to complete it and suffering the consequences, please feel free to share by leaving a comment.

Be sure to check back in next week if you want to learn about step 4!

The End is Near!

No, not the end of the world, silly . . . I’m talking about the end of the recession. Recently, I wrote about “Business Looking up in 2011” which was based on a survey of over 5,000 businesspeople and entrepreneurs at www.BNIBusinessIndex.com.  The survey was a global survey that was taken by people from every populated continent in the world.

The survey found that almost 68% of the respondents say that business is growing or growing dramatically compared to this time a year ago.  What the survey doesn’t explain is why those businesses are growing.

I have a few thoughts, based on my observations recently, which may shed some light on this and also provide insight into how you can grow your business:

  • Innovation in adversity is a key factor. I know a commercial real estate broker in Southern California who said that he had his best year ever in 2010 (and he’s been in business for 26 years).  He cited the fact that he did dozens and dozens of one-to-ones during the year to find ways to work together with other businesses.  His opening approach was to help them.  However, at the same time, it built his business in the process.  This is counter-intuitive to most commercial real estate people he told me.
  • It all starts with attitude.  A product sales company in the UK was about to do layoffs to meet payroll.  One of the sales reps wrote on the whiteboard – “we refuse to participate in the recession.”   Everyone in the office signed it.  They ended up with their best month all year and no one was laid off!
  • Look for new or emerging opportunities.  I met a residential Real Estate agent on the East Coast of the U.S. who told me he had his best year ever last year.  He said he went to investors he’s worked with in the past and told them that “real estate is on sale!”  He said to them, “don’t be one of those people who come to me in a few years and say… “I was crazy not to look at these opportunities.  I should have bought back in 2010!”  He told me this strategy has helped him sell more than any year in recent memory.
  • Be creative with your offers.  I recently met a business coach in the mid-west of the U.S. who created a guarantee for his coaching.  He said, if you follow my weekly coaching program and you don’t raise your income to at least six figures, I’ll continue to coach you for free until you do.  He said it has dramatically increased his sales and has not had to provide any clients with free coaching yet.

If you have any insights / observations about the current upward slope of business or outside-the-box tips on how to boost business despite a challenging economy, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

My ‘Apple’ Experience

It was a few days before Christmas and the malls were incredibly packed.  My eldest daughter needed a new Apple laptop for college and I was going to get her one as a Christmas gift.

Apple’s in-store customer service is legendary and I would soon experience it firsthand. I went to Victoria Gardens, an outdoor mall near my home in Southern California.  I walked up to the entrance of the Apple Store and the first thing I saw was that the place was wall to wall people. No, really – I’m not exaggerating – it was literally wall to wall people.  I think if there were any more people in that store the Fire Marshal would have had to empty the place.

I stood at the door and was dreading the idea of going into this packed store and waiting forever for service. I took a deep breath and walked through the entrance.  I was no more than two steps into the store when I was greeted by an Apple employee. I expected her to instruct me where I needed to go in order to take a number and wait for service.  Instead, she said, “how can I help you?” I was a little surprised but, I told her what I was looking for.  While standing in the middle of the store she paged someone from a mobile device.  She told me he was the expert and could set me right up with what I needed.  After a few moments Chris was standing next to me answering my questions.

Within minutes of walking through the door I picked what I wanted.  Chris swiped my credit card with his telephone and instantly sent the receipt to my email address.   The entire transaction was done in a fraction of the time I expected in a store that was busier than I thought possible.

A good friend of mine, Stewart Emery wrote a book called “Do You Matter?” A major premise of the book is the idea that customer service is all about the “experience” people have in the transaction of business.  I’ve been to the Apple store a few times now and I can say with conviction that each time has been an amazing experience in customer service.

Another thing Stewart talks about in his book, which the Apple company seems to truly understand,  is that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  The Apple culture of customer service is light years ahead of any other computer company I have done business with – period. No computer company has come close to giving me such great customer service (some other computer companies even rank amongst the worst service I’ve ever had).

Well done Apple.  I will be back again… and again, and again.

If you’ve had a similar customer-service experience, I’d really enjoy hearing it.  Please leave a comment and tell me about it.

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