A Referral Is a Referral, Right? Wrong

A referral is better than a cold call because you have the name of the prospect and, if you’re fortunate, you can use the name of the referral source to open the door. 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.

You see, all referrals are not equal.  Referrals come in many different grades and they vary in quality according to how much involvement your referral source has invested in preparing the referral for you.

Here are the first three levels of referrals:

1.  Name and contact information only. This isn’t much better than having just a name to call.  It only indicates that your referral source has done just enough work to provide you with a phone number, address or some other way of contacting the prospect.

2.  Literature, biography and company information. When a referral source offers to give a contact your marketing literature or other information about your business, all you can be certain of is that the prospect will see the materials.  The prospect’s interest in your product or service will depend solely on the impact of your marketing message.

3.  Authorization to use name. Once a referral source has authorized you to use her name, you can feel fairly certain that you’ve established a good level of credibility with her.  By allowing you to say that she endorses your product or service, your source has given you valuable leverage with the prospect; however, the problem with this level of referral is that the burden of developing the prospect still rests on you.  Once you’ve conveyed that your referral source recommends you and your business, the task of selling really begins.

Think about the referrals you’ve gotten over the past couple of months.  Now, think about which referrals fall into each of the three categories above.  I’d love to hear your comments about the different results you’ve gotten from level 1, level 2 and level 3 referrals, so I encourage you to post your experiences below.

I’ll tell you more about level 4 through level 6 referrals next week; and in two weeks, I’ll get to the really good stuff . . . level 7 through level 10 referrals!

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