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Maintain Quality Relationships to Drive Referrals

Nov. 29, 2013| Craig Mathews | Triangle Business Journal

Too often, salespeople and business owners focus on the next sale or short-term quota.

Instead of asking “Where is my next customer?” they should ask, “Whom can I help today?”

This may seem counterintuitive at first, but developing quality relationships and helping others is actually a sound long-term strategy for generating referrals.

First of all, leads and referrals are not the same thing. Leads are essentially cold calls, whereas referrals via trusted third parties are imbued with the implicit endorsement and reputation of the referring individual. You can purchase leads, but you can’t purchase referrals.

According to noted business author John Jantsch, 80 percent of new business for most companies comes from referrals. Referrals close business twice as often and twice as fast as leads. In the long run, devoting time to generating referrals is more productive than chasing leads.

Fall Cleanups are big money makers before the new year. They’re also easy to sell, if you use the right sales triggers.

The Law of Reciprocity says that giving first – that is, helping others – is the best way to get others to help you.

Many networking experts agree with “paying it forward” for several reasons: 

  1. It takes pressure and attention off of the seller, and eventually pays back in huge dividends.
  2. It eliminates any feelings of unease from the person you are reaching out to, since there is no expectation of an immediate quid pro quo return favor.
  3. Being helpful is a show of good faith and adds value.
  4. When others feel you are helping them, they will be more inclined to get to know you and help you.
  5. All things being equal, people do business with those they know, like, trust and understand.

Set up a system to touch base with your referral partners at least once a month. This means you’ll be scouting for opportunities for them. When you do contact them, don’t be impersonal as with a generic email newsletter. Instead, recall personal details, successes, milestones, struggles, etc., and have a meaningful exchange with them as a real person.

Other people you want to stay connected to should also be on a follow-up schedule, but it may be quarterly or even annually, depending on how much you want to nurture the relationship.

Good networking is good karma. When you give good referrals and help people, you will get good referrals and increase your business in return.

 

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