The number one reason why most people attend networking events is to hopefully get referrals for additional business. They have exhausted their "warm" market and must expand their sphere of contacts to capture more customers. The key here is if you want to get more referrals, you must first learn how to give great referrals.
Here are five tips you can start using right away:
- Listen closely to what problems exist and try to find a solution. Everyone at some point needs something or someone to help them. Whether they are having car trouble, teenager trouble, cell phone issues, bookkeeping problems, staffing needs, or a new hair stylist there will always be something you can help them with. Make a commitment to become a business matchmaker and connect the dots. If you are attending more than one networking function, then surely you are meeting the people that can offer solutions to the people with the problems.
- Give permission to use your name as the person who offered the referral. You want to develop a strong reputation as someone who wants to connect others. In addition, each time your name is referenced in a conversation, the stronger your networking becomes. Word-of-mouth marketing relies on other people talking and sharing your information. When you give a referral, make sure to tell the recipient that it's OK to reference your name, that way the prospect knows it's not just another salesperson trying to get their business. When it's a referral from someone they already know, the chances of them becoming a customer dramatically increases.
- It's the quality of the referral NOT the quantity of how many you give. I know there are several leads groups that count the number of leads given and keep statistics or reports to determine how active and productive a group is. In this environment it's all about the numbers. They believe, the more leads there are, the more business that gets generated. Sales is a numbers game, the more people in your funnel eventually some will turn into customers. However, have you ever received a "sort of" lead from someone simply because they want to impress you? It sounds a little like this..."give this person a call, they might be looking at getting what you have, possibly in the future but I'm really not sure..." Then when you call, the person denies it and doesn't even know the person that "sort of" gave you the lead in the first place! It would have been easier to open up the phone book and start dialing randomly! Instead, give only referrals that are high quality and will mostly likely become business. You can't guarantee all referrals will become a sale but you can avoid giving "sort of" leads for the sake of providing a number.
- Provide as much information about the referral as possible. If you know the decision maker, the phone number or email info, what their situation is, how soon they want it or the best time to call, make sure to share that information immediately. Remember, when you give referrals you are providing a service and at the same time, you are training people on how you would like to receive the leads yourself. Next time you hear someone that has a problem; ask them more questions so you can accurately pass on the information to someone that can help. You'll not only save the other person time but you'll position yourself as a resource and connector.
- Indicate if it's a HOT lead and needs immediate action. All referrals should be followed up with as soon as possible but if you meet someone that says, "I need it now" or "I will be buying one by this weekend" then you know that person is going to make a purchase immediately. If you already have someone in mind that could help them, give them their contact info and let them know you will tell the other person to contact them ASAP. If you really want to make a great impression, do a 3-way call on the spot and connect them! Otherwise, send an email to both parties with each others contact info and let them take it from there. Your job is to make the connection and pass on the referral. If you don't tell the recipient that it's a HOT lead and requires immediate action, they might miss the opportunity to get the business.
You can save yourself time by having all your contacts programmed in your cell phone so you can immediately make the connection. Givinggreat referrals will eventually lead YOU to gettinggreat referrals!