Referral Strategy: More Business With Less Selling!
Developing a good Referral Strategy is your best bet to minimize the problem of clients Churn Rate. Due to the inevitability of client attrition, your business will grow or slowly die! Let’s investigate the best way to get new clients even if you have no time for prospecting and hate cold calling!
Face it! Most of the trainers will spend endless hours in a gym training or client analysing. But ask them to develop new business, and their answer will be: I am not a salesperson! But, client move! You need to add new clients to your business all the time; you should never stop developing new clients. Without a steady stream of new clients in addition to existing ones, your trainer business will be subject to the economic reality as any other enterprise, the end will be seen on the horizon!
Many coaches understand the importance of networking and are ready to spend weekends at networking events and social mixers, exchanging visit cards hoping that the new clients will appear! OK, networking events, drinking champagne or beer, playing golf, smiling and exchanging visit-cards can help in building inspiration ripple but that will quickly disappear as soon as you start the daily routine on a Monday morning! At least, these events are predictable: they fail to produce any meaningful results consistently!
So what should you do? The answer is simple even if not everybody will agree: Forget about the “networking events” as a core strategy for business developing as these will rarely justify the time and money involved! Instead, build strong referral plan and do not confuse building referrals with networking! Referral Building is not networking, wine tasting, golfing and social mixing! Referrals as a strategy include some agreement, a deal between you and people who will refer your business to the third party! And that is where you need a strategy, defined upfront!
Nobody likes cold calling! Most of us, from the both side, find it to be distasteful and lacking dignity. We don’t like to call cold, and we hate to be cold called and interrupted in whatever we do! But at the same time everybody like referrals! We love referrals from clients or colleagues! Referrals are a confirmation of our values and quality of our work! At the same time, from the other side, before we take the risk of something new and untested, we often seek for the opinion of a trusted source. That might be a friend, referral or somebody who has no personal interest to fool you!
People will always trust rather to other people’s opinion than to commercials, no matter how bright advertisings might be done! Well, to tell the truth, referral opinion is somewhere in the middle between advertising and unbiased opinion, but it is not that obvious! And that is why referrals are much more efficient! There is no doubt that referrals are the best source of new client relationships. A potential client who comes from the referral source is half cooked. Your job is only to negotiate terms and price! He almost always has made his mind before contacting you! You just need a final touch to make the deal.
From the business point of view, the most important difference is that referral business development is a process of building, not selling! When you make referrals, they will do the selling for you! You do not need to be born salespersons talent!
Referral strategy basics
When I said that referral strategy means building; I meant that your business structure plays the key role. The most important aspect of referral strategy is Market Positioning, Problem you Solve, Unique Value Proposition. Why should somebody hire you? Building strong brand takes time.
But, you can start your referral strategy immediately. Talk with people you train. Have in mind that this conversation must be specifically about referring! Ask them to help. Some will help you gladly; some will not. Some will promise but will do nothing! But those who love what you do will refer you in the form of warm introduction!
When you start developing your referral strategy, think about some incentive. It will greatly depend on the profile of people you work with, but try not to expect something for nothing!
Once you start building your referrals, follow the rule 80/20. Spend the most time (80%) money and efforts working with those 20% of your referrals who love your business and are proactive! They will bring you 80% of results, new businesses!
You can initiate the request for a referral with “Can you, please do me a personal favor?”
And then think about this strong scripts for generating referrals:
- “Who else might you recommend for me, because…” or
- “Who do you know that I should know?”
Ask these questions at least ta few times a day and, in time, your results will improve dramatically. Asking in this manner is not selling, you can use them in any conversation! Note that questions have no alternative like “No” or “Yes.”
Another great tactic is: Try to do a favor to as many people as you can. As a trainer, you meet different people. Remember what they do and be prepared to connect them where appropriate. People will remember your kindness. And then, sometimes after in time, you will ask ” You know what I am doing. Who do you know that I should know!”
And now, if you know somebody that I should know, please reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will propose an excellent deal, only for You!