Your business may perform a variety of services or offer a range of products, however, if you want a referral, your description of what you do should be detailed and focused on a single aspect of your business.
Your referral sources will find it much easier to get you an appointment with a prospect if your sales message addresses the prospect’s specific needs. You’re an office-furniture wholesaler? No help. You specialize in custom-designed, made-to-order desks, shelves, in and file cabinets in large lots? Bingo – you got an appointment.
A Broad Net has Big Holes
I know it seems counterintuitive. The reality is that the more specific your description, the more likely you will receive referrals. People tend to say they do everything because they want to throw as broad a net as possible, catching everyone.
The problem with a really broad net is that it has big holes in it. When you say, “I’m a full-service printer; I do everything,” that doesn’t mean anything to your prospects, or to those who refer you to them. What they’re thinking is, I don’t need a full-service job. All I need is a particular kind of print job.
When you tell a referral partner that you’re a full-service provider, they have to mentally sort out all the people they know and cross tabulate what they do against all the things you do. That doesn’t work; people aren’t computers. It takes too much time and effort.
If you say, “Who do you know who’s a sports enthusiast? Here’s how they can use my product,” then you’re letting your referral source do a simpler kind of mental sorting. The more you can educate people about the different things you do–one at a time–the more likely you’ll get referrals in the long run. Getting referrals in a specific area does not preclude continuing to offer other products or services.
Narrowing Your Focus
When you present yourself as an expert in an area where someone needs expert advice, you become a specialist rather than a generalist. As the specialist, you can more thoroughly articulate what you do and how you do it to your referral sources, allowing them to easily present it to other people.
You may not be convinced that narrowing your focus is a good idea. You may think that if you present yourself as a specialist, you limit your potential referrals and future business; that is, you can’t do business outside your niche. The truth is, whether you’re a true specialist, or a generalist presenting yourself as a specialist in order to facilitate easy referrals, you are not limiting yourself by doing so. People are actually more likely to refer a specialist than a generalist.
Most specialists that do only one or a few kinds of business still offer related products or services. Yes, you’ve narrowed down your business to the things you like to do or do best, or bring you the most profit, but you can do other things, too.
Remember, specialists get more referrals. Eventually your referral partners need to know the full range of your products or services. Right now, they need to know the specific needs you can fill, because that’s what the customer focuses on in any given instance.