Referrals: The Holy Grail of small business success

Referrals are the Holy Grail of small business for obtaining high-quality prospects. When you receive a referral it’s not money in the bank, but almost, because this person who has been referred to you has already been pre-qualified in two ways. They wouldn’t contact you unless: 1) Someone who knows you told them you are worthy of their time and money; and 2) They need whatever you sell.

So a referral is as close to being ready-to-buy as you will get from someone you just met.

But consistent referrals don’t just happen out of the blue. First you have to do something worthy of being referred. Then someone has to remember whatever exemplary thing you did, and be impressed by it so much that they remember to tell someone else. And this last thing is where many referral opportunities break down.

So what’s the answer? Two words: Training and intuitive That’s right: If you want someone to refer you to a prospect, you will likely have to teach them how to do that in such a way that it doesn’t seem like homework. Here’s an example of how I successfully used an intuitive training practice once upon a time.

When I was a full-time small business consultant, my tag line was “I’m a vice president you can rent.” Catchy, huh? Well, that’s the second part of why clients who valued my services gave me so many referrals. Not only did I do a good job for them, but my tag line made it easy for them to explain how their friends could benefit from an association with me, and intuitive enough for their friend to quickly understand why they should call me.

There are many other referral tips and best practices you should learn, and I talked about some of them on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, with Brain Trust member, John Jantsch. John is one of the world’s small business marketing (and referral) experts and author of Duct Tape Marketing. Take a few minutes to listen to this conversation from a couple of grizzled referral practitioners. And, as always, be sure to leave your thoughts.

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