(here’s the link to the training I mention in the video)
We’d probably all agree that referrals and word-of-mouth, produce the best quality (most likely to close) leads.
One study of 7,500 businesses found that 85% said that referrals are the best way to get customers. On top of that, the clients you get from referrals, are usually your best quality clients.
The problem is: very few businesses have a proactive system in place to generate referrals.
If you’re like most, it’s totally passive, and you just sit back and hope they come in when you need them.
For a long time, there really wasn’t much else you could do.
Today, I’m going to share with you the first part of a 3-part series on How to Create a Massive Referral Network.
I’m going to detail exactly how we created a proactive system to bring in qualified referrals on autopilot. This is how I got my start when building my first company LinkedSelling into being named an Inc. 500 company for multiple years.
It’s where we got our start.
The good news...things have gotten much easier since then.
With new technology...things have changed, and move a lot quicker. This is a playbook that you can use to get a LOT more referrals...even from people who don’t currently know you...no matter if your business is brand new, or if you’ve been around awhile...and even if you don’t really like networking.
In the Beginning...
Stay with me for a while as I stroll down memory lane.
But this approach to systemizing referrals goes back to 2006 when I first started actively building my rolodex of business contacts. Like many new entrepreneurs, I did what I thought I was supposed to.
I went to local networking events.
Even though I hated them with a fiery passion.
But as much as I had to psyche myself up to make it through...a funny thing happened. Over the following years, I kept building my network, both locally, and on LinkedIn, until I started my business in 2010...and the one thing that allowed me to keep the lights on my first year, was having this network in place.
Now, I didn’t have anything automated… because the technology didn’t even exist. So I had to do it the hard way, and figure it out from scratch or spend a lot of time at in-person events.
But with my networking efforts and using LinkedIn to contact potential referral partners, I ended up growing an Inc 500 company and having a team of over 50 employees, writing a couple bestselling books, one on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, called Connect, creating a business and a life that has just totally surpassed any of my wildest dreams from when I was starting.
Had I not focused on building a massive referral network, early on, and then fostered that network over the subsequent years, there’s no way I’d be in this place today, where now I’ve been able to build a software that automates so much of this so that thousands of small businesses can now do the exact same thing.
And what it comes down to is this.
There are lots of other businesses out there, who are currently working with the people that YOU want to work with.
You might call these people referral partners, or centers of influence.
“All you need to do” is build a relationship with them and keep in touch, so that when opportunities cross their plate, you’re the one they think of.
Sounds easy, right?
When you systematize it you’ve struck gold.
But, in the past it was a lot of work.
And a lot of time.
Why Build a Referral Network?
Let’s say you were able to have just 100 people in your referral network. People who were sending you leads regularly, telling their clients about you, bringing you in on deals…
What kind of impact do you think that would have on your business and life?
Even if they don’t currently know anything about you and you might wonder “Why would this person even consider sending business my way?” We’ll hit that head on today.
Conservatively, when you follow the approach I’m going to teach in this series...let’s say each month you get just a few leads from your referral network.
A few leads each month, and not just any leads. These are referrals...the BEST quality leads. Many of my clients tell me they close nearly 100% of referrals...but let’s say it’s just 50%. Well, if you get 3 referrals each month...and close 50% of them...that’s an average of 1.5 clients each month...over the course of the next year...that’s 18 new clients.
And again, these are not just any clients, they will be some of your BEST clients. But this isn’t about just a month, or just a year...think about what happens over the next few years as you continue to work this system….it’s a game changer.
And I believe that if you are serious about implementing it, that this is going to blast your business off into a totally new place of growth and success.
One that most people will never realize. Because look...85% of businesses report that their best leads and clients come from REFERRALS and WORD OF MOUTH.
Yet almost none of them have a system to proactively generate referrals. I don’t think that’s right, and I want to change this right now...for YOU and for every small business that needs this system.
In the past…it seemed kinda like a mystery. You just had to do good work, and hope that your clients would refer you. Well...hoping is not a good plan. And if you’ve been there before, you know that it often ends with you wondering when the phone will ring next...sleepless nights, worrying about paying the bills, and all the issues that come along with that. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve worked with thousands of businesses and seen time-and-time again...that there’s a much better way. But almost nobody is doing it...because they don’t know how, and the old-fashioned way...takes too much time.
There IS a Better Way
Over my next few posts on the Marketing Minute I’m going to introduce you to the 3-Step Process we’ve utilized to generate over $13 million in revenue from referrals in my company and much more for our clients.
There are 3 main components to create a Massive Referral Network.
Put simply they are:
Today, I’m going to be talking about our proven methodology for identifying your best referral partners...and how to create an efficient system to find and connect with the types of partners that can consistently send you referrals.
Then in my next two posts I’ll break down how to build relationships with those partners so they actually WANT to send you leads. And finally how to create a system that automatically keeps you top-of-mind with these partners so yours is the first name that comes to mind when an opportunity arises.
What Is a ‘Referral Partner’ Anyway?
When I talk about a “referral partner,” what I mean, is somebody who is going to send you referrals on a regular basis.
So they must be in a position, where they come across your ideal clients very regularly. Because, if not, then they won’t have many referrals for you, right?
Now,when you talk about a true “referral partner” that implies that it’s not a one-way street. Meaning, they might want some referrals from you too.
And that could be the case...but you might be thinking, “Well, I don’t know if I want to send MY clients to them?”
Or, you might be nervous that you won’t have anything to send them at all,right? Well, you don’t have to worry about this. We’ll get into the specifics of how to do this in Part 3, but for now let me just say, that the way we design this system, you don’t have to send them clients and they will still love sending you theirs.
And this will also work even if your business is brand new because you can actually use this new network of referral partners as a self-fulfilling mechanism to share referrals…
...but for most people, even that is not necessary.
What Makes a Good Referral Partner?
The first place you’re going to look is your existing clients. I’m not going to spend much time on this one, because we all know that your clients are a great source of referrals, but that’s just scratching the surface.
You want to tap into a MUCH greater pool of referrals by expanding outside of your existing client base.
Because, there are tons of influencers and leaders in your industry & market who could be sending you referrals. These people are working with your ideal clients. They just need to know that you’re the one to send these referrals to.
Like I mentioned earlier, I recommend every business owner aim to eventually develop a “Top 100” Referral Network.
That means, 100 amazing influencers in your market...who are sending you business often. But as a starting point aim for 10-20.
The first thing I want you to do now, is brainstorm a list of the types of businesses that would be great to have as referral partners. These “Centers of Influence” should be other businesses, who are most likely not competitors of yours...but that work with the same types of people you do.
Want Step-By-Step Instruction On How To Automate This Entire Process AND The Exact Scripts To Use To Build Your Referral Network? Lock In Your Seat For Our Free Masterclass!
Find Your ‘Centers of Influence’
Let’s look at a few examples of some common businesses along with some ideal referral partners.
Coaches & Consultants
The first place you want to look, is at the unique niche you’re in.
Who else in the industry is serving the clients that you are? Is your client base local, or are you working with people on a national or international level?
From there, here are some of the types of people you might consider adding into your referral network.
If you work with businesses and business owners...then CPA’s are often solid, as they have lots of clients. Financial advisors can be good for the same reason, as can insurance agents. And also, I would consider other coaches and consultants who have complimentary services.
Health & Wellness
If you’re a health coach or sell a health and wellness product or course, for you it might be personal trainers, yoga studio owners, chiropractors, acupuncturists, therapists, or even medical doctors...these people could all be in a position to refer their clients to you.
Again, CPA’s are great. Insurance agents. Real estate agents, or brokers. Title companies. Business consultants and coaches. M&A consultants and investment bankers. Lots of options here.
Marketing Agencies (Service Providers)
Certainly, other business consultants in your niche or industry are probably going to be your best bet. That’s where I’d put most of my focus.
Identify the different types of consultants and service providers, that your clients might be working with, and write down the list.
Once you have a list of the types of professionals that fit the niche you are in, give some more thought to who you already know that falls in that category.
In addition to clients, consider your existing network of business contacts. Specific people that are in your network who may deal with the types of clients or people you sell to.
But we want to make sure we are really blanketing the market, so that all of the top players in your market know you and are sending leads your way. So we have to also start reaching out to new prospective referral partners, and bringing them into your network. Look at your list now, and see where the biggest gaps are. What types of people are you really missing most. The next step is to start connecting with these people.
For this, we recommend LinkedIn.
Networking is the basis of LinkedIn and why it exists.
And it allows you to go hand select the exact people in your market, who look like they will be great influencers and potential referral partners.
Go search for these types of people on LinkedIn. Be sure to narrow your search by title and geography and industry, as appropriate.
And I’d also recommend filtering to only have people with a certain amount of experience, because more experienced people will have more contacts to refer you to….and along those same lines, here’s a power tip.
When you’re prospecting, go look at somebody’s profile and you’ll see under their “Activity” section, it shows you how many followers they have.
For most people, this is just a measure of how many first degree connections they have. I recommend that you only reach out to people with over 500 connections or followers for this (1,000 would be even better)as they will be more likely to have a sizable enough network to be a good, consistent source of referrals for you.
At this point, I’ve given you a lot to start with. The next step, which I’ll dive into in Part 2...is going to get really tactical, to show you how to get connected to these people, and how to then get the conversation started, so that you can start working them through the referral system.
This is great for referral partners, but you’ll also see how well this can work for connecting with direct clients as well…
I think you’re gonna love it.