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4 Rules For A Successful Referral System
You can go about implementing all your marketing arsenal by sending everyone calendars, flash drives, stationary, and the other cheap gifts the souvenir store pitches to you. But what does it do for you when everyone else is doing the same? What makes someone who has 5 calendars given by different agents decide which one is the best?
When you are in the referral business, there are basically 2 methods to go about it. You either go by quantity or quality. When you approach prospecting as a numbers game, it does make sense indeed to spew your seeds all over the place. Eventually the law of numbers is going to lean towards you and send you prospects to pitch your service. And when you go for quality, you become a person that someone can relate to. Even though the numbers could be smaller, it would be easier to get yourself hired.
I have seen agents succeed using either methods. There is really no correct or wrong way to go about implementing your referral system. But if I have to choose between one, I would choose quality over quantity.
This is because of 2 reasons.
1) People like to help others that they like. If one become a super agent, your referral sources will feel great about themselves for playing a role in your success. It’s not that they would want something in return. It’s just that it makes a great story to tell others about. At the same time, by creating trust along with friendship, you get a source for life, and build a real friendly relationship with.
2) When you focus on delivering quality service rather than spreading your flyers around, you are more likely to create champions of you. Because if someone had a great experience from hiring you, for some reason, they want their friends to have that experience as well. They might even insist to their friends that they can only hire you. Champions are those people who forwards your sms on the latest deals to their friends, share your Facebook updates around, get others to vote for you in a competition, etc. These are the best people you can “employ” without having to pay them.
But whether you go for quality or quantity, you should be able to do a good job for yourself and build a sales pipeline as long as you follow the 4 rules of successful referral systems.
Rule 1: Respect that you are intruding into the social sphere of others
Don’t lie to yourself. Getting someone to recommend you to their friends is not just a simple act of saying “You have to hire this guy”. The unwritten laws of social dynamics implies that the recommender is putting their reputation on the line. If you screw up the job after being referred, the person who recommended you is going to get a tongue lashing. And other than that by referring you when nobody asked for a referral, your champions are making themselves look like they have a hidden agenda.
So don’t just inform people to recommend you. You have to earn that by building a certain level of rapport with your target referrer. Only if you are able to meet a certain level of comfort with them, will they be comfortable enough to be your walking radio advertisement.
Rule 2: You don’t get it unless you ask for it
Sure you can let nature take it’s course and let people recommend you only if you pop up in their minds for some reason. But the reality is, people really don’t think about what they can do for you until you ask them to. And if you are specific enough, they will know exactly what they have to do in order to help you out.
Don’t let your ego get the better of you. You are no weakling just because you are asking for help. It is just something you do in this industry. And no Don’t just print it in your business card. Ask for it from conversation and don’t be ashamed of it. Your card will be left in the magazine holder if you are lucky. But a meaningful conversation can remain in the minds of people for a long time to come.
Rule 3: Get permission
Cold calling is a thing of the past. Warm calls work much better if you know how to get them. Surely you don’t want to be labelled as a spammer without having the chance to serve anyone. There are people out there that borrows the calling list of their friends to prospect for leads. You don’t want to do that. It is just annoying to people even if you identify yourself as being referred by their friend.
The better way to do it is to ask your source about people who might be interested in your service. And once they have identified the targets, simply ask your source to send them a message about your possible call. Or ask them if their numbers can be given to you. This works much better. They will be expecting your contact and there is a smaller chance of being blown off right away.
Rule 4: Guide your source
As mentioned before, not everyone will have a good idea of the marketing schemes you have conceptualized in your head. There might be a lot of people who want to help you, but they have absolutely no idea that they are sitting on something you consider a gold mine. It could be that they are a respected person at an association or president of an activity club. If you do not lead them specifically of how you would like them to help you, they really could have no idea how.
So if you have identified a specific way someone might be able to help you, just lay it out and see what they are agreeable on. You never know. People might be in a better position than you first thought. And when you laid out the methods that they can play a crucial role for your referral system, they might reveal even more valuable information on the influence they have.