referral Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
The Five Levels of a Referral

The Five Levels of a Referral

A referral is a referral, right?   Well, not so much.  Once a referral source has given you the name of a person to call, what more could you hope for? Actually, there’s quite a bit more you can expect from referrals that have been properly developed by their sources.  Referrals come in several different shades. I’ve identified the five levels of a referral. They vary in quality according to how much involvement your referral source has invested in preparing the referral for you. The more time and effort your source puts into qualifying, educating, and encouraging the prospect before you become involved, the higher the quality and level of that referral. Conversely, if your referral source only passes an interested prospect’s name to you, most of the work of converting that prospect into a customer falls on you. The likelihood of a successful conversion diminishes significantly.

Now let’s cover the five levels of referrals, ranging from nothing but a name and contact information to the “Full Monty” (which despite the movie, actually means to do everything possible).  We call this the Referral Continuum and we’ve ranked the levels of the continuum in order of ascending quality.

Please note that this is a “referral” continuum, not a “leads” continuum.  All of these levels are true referrals, not leads (including the first one).  The person giving the referral knows both parties and is recommending the person providing the product or service to the person who is receiving the product or service.

Note that each level below builds upon the previous.  So a Level 2 referral includes much of what is included in a Level 1 referral.  A Level 3 referral includes much of what is in a Level 1 and 2 referral etc. etc.

Level 1:       Name and contact information.

Your referral source has recommended you to someone and given them your contact information.  They have done just enough work to provide you with a phone number, address, email, or some other way of contacting the prospect and that prospect knows you might contact them.    If the prospect is expecting your call, this is a legitimate referral, it’s just not a high-level referral.  That said, we’d take this over a “cold-call” any day of the week!

Level 2:       Supplementary material.

In addition to the recommendation they gave, the referral source provided either your marketing literature, website information, or other content to the prospect for their review.  This additional information can positively influence the prospect by providing more material for them to review in addition to their verbal reference.

Level 3:       Share experience.

In addition to some or all of the items above, the referral source gave a personal written testimonial or a strong verbal recommendation about you to the prospect.  They spent time talking to the prospect about their experience working with you or their understanding of other people’s experience in working with you.  This is the first level of referral that truly involves a modicum of effort on the part of your referral source.  It usually includes background information and a description of your product or service as filtered through the lens of the referral source.  Adding the element of promotion increases the effectiveness of your referral source’s effort on your behalf. Promotion is advocacy—an outright recommendation of your product or service with a description of its features and benefits.

Level 4:       Introductory call and/or arrange a meeting.

This is another level up in terms of effort from the referral source. They phone on your behalf and arranges a phone or in-person meeting between you and the prospect. This is in addition to many of the things outlined above. When your referral source arranges a call or a meeting between the two of you, they move beyond the role of a promoter and move into the role of a connector or facilitator.  This takes effort and is the sign of a committed referral partner who you should definitely support in return.

Level 5:       In-person introduction and promotion.

At this level, your referral source is making a serious commitment of time and energy in support of your business.  They haven’t just arranged a meeting, they participate in the meeting.  At this level, your referral source has done the work of assessing the need a prospect may have for your product or service. They have gauged the prospect’s interest in learning more about it. They share this information, This enables you to tailor your products or services to emphasize the specific benefits that the prospect is looking for.

This level is practically a “closed deal.”  Generally, a level 5 referral means, the business is nearly closed before you even contact the prospect, solely on the strength of your referral source’s efforts. Not much is required from you except to answer some questions and deliver the product or service and collect the payment.  People who give you Level 5 referrals are prized referral partners.  Make sure to treat them as such.  You should have a reciprocal relationship with these individuals.  They are worth their weight in referral gold.

referral continium

The Referral Continuum shows the amount of work you must do to close a prospect, based on the level of the referral. If you’re given a Level 1 referral, you have to do 95 percent of the work to close. This is not much better than other marketing efforts. On the other hand, if you get a Level 4 or 5 referral, then the person giving you the referral has already done most of the work for you. It’s easier for your referral source to edify you than it is for you because your source already has a relationship of trust with your prospect. For this reason, it’s important for you to do a superb job in fulfilling that referral so your referrer will get great feedback and want to refer you again. The referral giver is, in essence, lending you his or her credibility; this is not something to be taken lightly.

The Networking Scorecard

Of course, the effectiveness of your referral network in providing you with quality referrals depends on the amount of work you do to develop your sources. There are many ways to encourage them to become active and enthusiastic members of your marketing team. The Networking Scorecard from Networking Like a Pro 2nd Edition will enable you to manually track the work you are doing to develop your network.  However, you can also download a free app of The Networking Scorecard at www.IvanMisner.com/Scorecard. Use this scorecard to keep a weekly record of your networking efforts and the quality of referrals you receive. You’ll begin to see the relationship between the two.

Referrals

Standing in The Middle of Referrals

Referrals are all around us. Are you paying attention?

Watch the video to see why I have a photo of a crying baby with this blog.

Referrals are all around us, it’s just that we’re not paying enough attention to what’s going on in order to identify them.  You see, there’s a part of our brain that’s called the Reticular Activating System.  It can be described as a filter between our conscious and our subconscious mind. Your subconscious screens out things you determine that aren’t important and it alerts you about things you think are important. Therefore, understanding how it works can be a great tool to recognize the daily referral opportunities surrounding us.

Watch the video now to learn not only about the Reticular Activating System but also about another powerful tool which I call the “Language of Referrals”.  After watching the video, you will likely begin to remember times when your Reticular Activating System was in full effect. However, you just didn’t realize it at the time.  You may also remember instances where you’ve clearly heard the language of referrals in conversations with people.

I’d really love to hear about your referrals experience with one or both of these things so please share your story/stories in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

 

6 Simple Actions

Last week I gave you a list of actions you can take to strengthen your relationships with your referral sources. I promised that in the next few weeks I would give you some more information on each action. So, since we all love it when things are easy, I’ll start by giving you further details on the six simplest actions you can take.

1.  Send a thank-you card.  Always a nice gesture, a handwritten thank-you card makes a great impression, especially in this age of electronic communication. Be sure to write a personalized note that mentions what you’re thanking your referral source for. SendOutCards.com is a great resource for this.

2.  Send a gift. A gift is always welcome. Like a thank-you card, a gift, however small or inexpensive, builds visibility and credibility with your referral source. Try to find out what your referral source likes (favorite foods, hobbies, etc.), and send a gift that is personalized to her tastes.

3.  Call a referral source. An occasional phone call is a good way to keep the relationship strong, if you take care to call only when it’s least likely to be an unwelcome interruption. It’s also a good idea to have a piece of news or some tidbit of information to pass along that will benefit or interest your source.

4.  Offer a referral. Giving your referral source a referral is a wonderful way to build your relationship. By helping build your source’s business, you create a debt of gratitude that will encourage your source to respond in kind.

5.  Display a source’s brochure. Doing a bit of sales work on behalf of a referral source can only enhance your relationship. If you have a public area for your business, offer to place your source’s materials where your clients can read them.

6.  Send an article of interest. Set up a file for holding newspaper and magazine clippings that may be of interest to people you would like to be your referral sources. Sending an article, especially one that is pertinent to your source’s current business or personal circumstances, says that you are thinking about your source’s needs.

These are some of the easiest ways to grow your networking relationships. Check back next Monday to read about some great actions you can take that will require a little more effort on your part.

6 Ways Your Referral Source Can Turn a Referral Into a Customer

Let’s say that upon getting a business referral, you simply take down the name and contact information of the potential customer from the referral source. Sometime later, you call the prospect and introduce yourself: “Hello, Ms. Prospect, my name is John Businessman. Larry Source recommended I call you.  I’m an accountant . . .”

Handling referrals this way, as you might expect, gets minimal results.  Your chance of converting the referral into a customer will be greater if your referral source:

  • makes the initial contact with the prospect (his acquaintance) to assess her need and, if appropriate, alerts her that you will be getting in touch
  • sends the prospect background information about you and your business
  • lets the prospect know the nature of his relationship with you
  • gives the prospect a brief description and endorsement of your products or services
  • arranges to introduce the prospect to you
  • follows up with the prospect after you contact her.

Unfortunately, if you don’t ask your prospective referral source to do some of these things, he probably won’t–not because he isn’t willing, but because he doesn’t know how these actions could make a big difference, doesn’t have enough information about you or your business, or simply doesn’t know how.

Make it your goal to communicate to your sources the actions you wish them to take and then provide them with all the materials necessary to accomplish those actions. If you do this, I guarantee you’ll get better-quality referrals that will more quickly turn into actual business.

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