Last week, I wrote a blog explaining that referral networking is a system –when it comes to the actions of generating, developing, and closing a business deal through a referral, there is a well defined, systematic process.
The good news is, this process can be broken down into eight easy steps and today I am going to explain steps 1 and 2.
- Step 1. Your Source Discovers a Referral
The referral begins with an event that is outside your direct involvement: your referral source uncovers a referral opportunity for you. This occurs without your direct involvement, but it happens because you have laid the groundwork for it by cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with the person who is going to be motivated to bring you the referral and by making sure she can inform the prospect about the benefits your business can provide.
- Step 2. Research the Referral
Your referral source tells you she has a referral for you. At this stage, your impulse might be to call the prospect immediately–you know, strike while the iron is hot! But that would be a mistake. In fact, it’s the most common mistake people make, and in many cases it’s referral suicide.
Don’t let your excitement cloud your judgment about the opportunity. As soon as you get the call from your referral source, and before you even think of picking up the phone and calling the prospect, you should start digging to find out everything you can about your prospect and his company. How old is the company? What is the prospect’s main line of business? How successfully does it compete? What is the company’s market valuation? What products or services of yours might be of most use or interest to the company? What is its track record with vendors? Does it deal fairly and straightforwardly with suppliers and clients? Is it in good financial condition? Will you be competing with other vendors for its business?
Can you think of any other questions that would be good to consider when researching a referral in Step 2 of the referral marketing process? If so, please share it in the comment section. Also, be sure to check back next week to read about Step 3: Checking Back in with Your Referral Source.