Tag Archive for 'Add new tag'

Five Things to Do for a Successful Referral Strategy

For as long as businesses have tried to get customers to buy their stuff, a referral has been the holy grail of prospecting. Like the mythical chalice, a referral is golden.

To emphasize the power of referrals, allow me to introduce “Blasingame’s Prospect Entrée Spectrum” (BPES), which is a way of valuing the method used to get in front of a prospect.

CC Photo via PixabayThe BPES is on a scale of 1-10, with a cold call being a 1, and the unqualified referral a 10. The difference between scoring a referral and making a cold call is, to borrow from Mark Twain, like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Let me put a sharper point on that: In the Age of the Customer, cold calling is a fool’s errand.

Asking for and getting an appointment is a 5. From 2 to 5 on the spectrum are varying degrees of quality of connection that you attempt without a referral, like networking. From 6 to 9 represents varying quality of referrals. For example, a 6 is a casual referral with one of two qualifications attached: either the referrer doesn’t know you well, or doesn’t know the prospect well. The goals is to demonstrate you’re worthy of a full-throated, unqualified referral — 10 — which is almost money in the bank. When you hear someone say they’re working smarter, not harder, it means they’re earning lots of referrals, including an increasing number of 10s.

Here are five things to do to sustain a successful referral strategy:

2. Help customers give you referrals by teaching them how to tell others about you and your business. Instructions must be short and sweet, like an elevator pitch.

3. Be worthy of a referral. Take good care of the referred prospect, even if you don’t make a sale.

4. Thank the referrer every time, in person if possible, regardless of the result of the referral. Remember, getting a referral is success.

5. If you want to get referrals, give them to others.

On that last point, in Ecclesiastes 11:1, King Solomon wrote, “Cast your bread upon the water and in time it will come back to you.” Three millennia later, Ivan Misner, my friend and founder of Business Network International (BNI) gave us a handier way to remember the law of reciprocity. Ivan simply says, “Givers gain.” Beautiful.

In the Age of the Customer if you’re not asking for and getting referrals, you’ll have to work much harder than is necessary just to survive.

Write this on a rock … Seek the holy grail and Perfect 10 of prospecting – the unqualified referral.

Integrity has no need of rules

While talking with an attorney friend of mine, our topic of discussion was about professional behavior in the marketplace. She reminded me that attorneys have very specific ethical and professional standards that are published, plus a well-developed monitoring organization, complete with sanctioning authority.

The story is quite similar for CPAs, architects, medical doctors, or any securities representative such as stock brokers, financial planners, etc. Much of the behavioral track these professionals run on is pretty well spelled out for them. Not that the members of these groups need to be led or coerced into good professional behavior. It’s just that, when in doubt, they have published guidelines with which to refer.

Small business owners operate in the same marketplace as the so-called professionals. Indeed, they are often our clients and customers. We serve the same businesses and consumers as other professionals, plus we enter into similar relationships, contracts and agreements. And we often find ourselves perched precariously on the same horns-of-a-dilemma as other prefessionals, But here’s the difference: The Universal Small Business Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics doesn’t exist.

Small business owners, like all humans, ultimately behave according to their own moral compass, sense of fair play and inclination to deal in good faith. When we find ourselves in a quandary over how to respond to a difficult situation that is in the gray area of a contract, we’re on our own. When we are faced with an ethical issue that would challenge King Solomon, there is no sanctioning body or support group to dial up, to to whom we can email a “scenario.”

There are many ancient codes small business owners can turn to for behavioral guidance in the marketplace, such as the last three of the Ten Commandments. But in terms of a handy guide, I think philosopher and 1957 Nobel Prize winner for literature, Albert Camus, may have given us the best ethical vector when he wrote, “Integrity has no need of rules.”

Wise small business owners know that life is much simpler, and exceedingly more rewarding, when we just do the right thing.

I’ve talked quite a bit about ethics with Len Marrella, founder and president of the Center for Leadership and Ethics and author of In Search of Ethics – Conversations with Men and Women of Character.

To see all of our conversations and either listen or download, click here.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

The Dec 09 NFIB report of small business conditions

The recession may be over technically speaking, but that’s not how it feels to most small businesses on Main Street.  They’re still having a tough time getting enough customers to show up to grow sales and profits, and are not looking to make capital improvements or hire new employees to any great extent. 

It distresses me to report on this kind of news, but my job, as legendary sports announcer, Howard Cossell, used to say, is to tell it like it is. I believe 2010 will be a better year than 2009, but it doesn’t feel like that right now for many Main Street small businesses, especially retailers.

Of course, much of the small business conditions I report on comes from the high quality, peerless research of world-class economist, Dr. William Dunkelberg. Bill is professor of economics at Temple, chief economist for the NFIB and an invaluable member of my Brain Trust.  I used the word “peerless” earlier in referring to Bill’s work.  He has been tracking small business sentiments every month since 1971, throught all of the marketplace cycles. Any questions? 

Recently, Bill joined me on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to discuss in detail the results of the Dec 09 NFIB’s Report of Small Business Economic Trends.  Take a few minutes to listen to this conversation and, as always, leave your own thoughts on the status of the economy as it relates to your business. Listen Live! Download, Too!

For small business, Cash is no longer King – it’s the Emperor

For generations, business owners have learned that while Profit may be the Queen of business, Cash is King. And there is never a moment in the life of any business, large or small, when this generally accepted truth doesn’t apply. But in 2009, or anytime the economy slows, small businesses must elevate Cash to an even more supreme level. Consequently, these days, and for the foreseeable future,

Cash is Emperor.

Any Questions?

Blasingame’s 3rd Law of Small Business states: “It’s redundant to say, ‘undercapitalized small business.’” There are at least two reasons this statement is a law and not a maxim:

1. In every small business, there is always a place to put whatever capital may be available.

2. Small businesses typically have only three sources of capital: a) Retained earnings – profits left in the business; b) Bank loans; c) Investment capital, most of which comes from the owner.

Because of the impact of Blasingame’s 3rd law, any cash in a small business is precious and, therefore, availability must be maximized.

There are many fundamental best practices that can be executed to maximize cash. Here are a few:
- Sell at a gross profit margin that will more than fund operations.
- Manage expenses like a she-bear guards her cubs.
- Manage accounts receivable like your life depends upon it – it might.
- Establish and maintain a close relationship with a bank.
- Re-invest as much of the profits back into the company as possible.

Recently on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate show, I interviewed three top experts on cash management and capital acquisition. First, Gene Siciliano, author of Finance for the Non-Financial Manager, second, Joe Knight, author of Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs, and finally, Tom Markel, founder of iBank.com. Be sure to take a few minutes to listen to what these three world-class cash management experts have to say about this critical small business management fundamental. And, of course, be sure to leave your own thoughts.
For Gene Siciliano: For Joe Knight:
For Tom Markel:




    Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: php_network_getaddresses: getaddrinfo failed: Temporary failure in name resolution in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142

    Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: unable to connect to twitter.com:80 (Unknown error) in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142