I think this is a crucial concept in business networking that is rarely discussed. When you get a referral and you meet with the prospect, it is very important that you edify your referral source. This is a great technique to use because you begin the discussion with the potential customer by talking about an area of overlapping interest and knowledge – your mutual acquaintance.
Before you start talking about your business, or even asking them some questions, it is important that you edify your referral source. Tell them how much you respect the person that referred you; talk a little bit about your relationship with that networking partner and why it is important to you that you provide great service to everyone that they refer to you. Spend some time talking about how you both know this individual. It is a fantastic way to warm up the referral and more importantly, it is a great opportunity to make your referral source look good for having made the referral.
Remember, the number one rule for referrals is to make your referral source look GREAT. You need to demonstrate that you know how to sell to the prospect in a way that doesn’t embarrass the source of your referral. Your networking partner must have confidence that you are going to consult with the prospective client, discover their needs, offer solutions based on those needs, give them some options, and not push for a sale if you know you can’t provide a good solution.
Alternatively, if your technique is to hold the prospect hostage at their kitchen table or office desk until they break down and buy something from you, your referral source will not be pleased that you’ve abused your relationship with them and damaged their own relationship with that client. You may get the deal, but you’ve shut yourself off from further deals with that client—and from any future referrals from your source.
Always edify your referral source and act in a way that would make that person want to refer more people to you.
How to Start
So, you might say, “Ivan, that sounds like a good idea, but how do I do that?”
Here’s an example.
If my networking partner, Tom, refers me to someone, the first thing I would do is ask Tom some questions about the potential customer.
- How do you know them?
- How long have you known them?
- What is the situation that they need help with?
- How did it come about?
- Are they expecting my call?
These questions help me get background information about the person and why they were referred to me. I can do all of that in one to two minutes at the most.
Now that I am prepared with information, I am ready to call the referral. Unless Tom tells me to wait until a certain day, I am calling the same day that I received the referral. Don’t sit on it; don’t wait a few hours, or a few days to call.
When I call the prospect, the first thing I say is, “Hi, I understand that you have been a friend of Tom’s for a long time.” Then I would edify Tom by saying that I have known him for years, he’s been my electrician for a long time, I admire how he always thinks about ways to help others, etc.
Why? When you give me a referral, it’s important that the first thing I do with that referral is tell them how great it is working with you. The reason I do that is because a third-party testimonial is incredibly powerful. Tom is my third-party testimonial. Instead of me calling the referral and talking and bragging about myself, what I want to do is brag about Tom because the one thing that potential client has in common with me is him. If I am talking about Tom, that helps warm up the relationship a little bit before I start launching into how I can provide whatever services that I need to do.
The person who gave you the referral already has a relationship of trust with the prospect and is lending you their credibility by referring you to them. This is why it is important to make them look good by edifying them and effectively fulfilling that referral, so they get great feedback about working with you and want to refer to you again.
Have you experienced this with your networking partners? Share your comments below.