Tuesday June 20, 2017
How many times have you formed a referral partnership, affiliate partnership, or strategic alliance, only for nothing to ever come of it?
You probably know the familiar line: "If I meet anyone who needs you, I'll mention you to them."
You and the other person probably mean it when you say it... so why does it so seldom translate into actual referrals?
Today, I'm going to share six reasons why many referral partnerships don't make you money, and what to do about it.
Here's why many referral partnerships produce few or no referrals:
When a referral partnership fails to bear fruit, it's often because of one or a combination of these obstacles:
1. Your referral partner isn't 100% clear on who your ideal client is.
If they don't know exactly what demographic you serve and how, then they don't know who to keep an eye out for. Even if they're speaking to one of your ideal clients, they might not know that this is the kind of person they should send to you.
This can be a result of poor communication, or of your ideal client not being specific and well-defined enough.
2. They aren't sure what to tell their referrals to do.
Should the clients who are referred to you visit a website? Give you a phone call? Send you an email? Something else?
If your referral partner doesn't know what to tell people to do, they won't know how to send people to you. This can result in them either making a clumsy and unconvincing attempt to encourage the client to contact you, or simply giving up and not referring them to you at all.
3. They aren't motivated to make referrals.
How does sending people to you benefit them?
Do they receive a commission? Will you promote their offering to your community in return?
Does sending people to you make them look better to their clients and audience?
If they don't benefit from sending you referrals, they're less likely to do it.
4. You aren't staying at the top of their mind.
Let's face it: business owners are busy people.
If you have an overflowing inbox, a full schedule, a product launch in the works, and who knows how many other tasks on the go, you might not remember another business' service when you're speaking to a client - especially not if you haven't heard from that business in months.
If you want somebody to remember you when they're speaking to your ideal clients, you need to stay at the top of their minds.
5. You have no shared marketing message.
If each member of your referral partnership is marketing themselves separately, it hurts your ability to make referrals in several ways:
A. There's no clear connection between your businesses other than your personal relationship.
B. People don't know to come to you for the services your partners offer, which means you have fewer opportunities to make referrals.
C. You miss out on the boost in value and credibility that comes from being part of a one-stop shop. You're just one person making a recommendation, instead of a member of a group that's come together to offer a superior service.
6. There's no one coordinating your referrals.
As I said before, business owners are busy - probably including you! Seeking out referral partners, figuring out what they're selling and how to promote it, and finding out how to make the referral all take time - and that's time that you consequently AREN'T spending serving clients and making money.
Fortunately, there's a way to get all that done for you - more on that in the next section.
How to fix those referral-killing problems and get more clients:
1. Make sure you and your referral partner are crystal-clear on who you serve and how.
When you describe your ideal client, the person you're speaking to should be able to immediately think of the face of someone who fits your description. If they can't, it's probably too vague.
What's your ideal client's age and gender? Are they business owners or employees?
What do they hope to accomplish or experience, and what obstacles are they struggling with?
Are they married or single, and do they have children?
What kind of area do they live in, and what activities do they participate in? This helps you and your referral partner to know where your ideal client is likely to be found.
If you're having trouble defining your ideal client, onCOREventures has an excellent article on the 10 things you need to know about your ideal client.
2. Tell your referral partner exactly what you want your referred clients to do.
What's the first step you want the clients who are referred to you to take?
Whether it's calling you on the phone, sending you an email, filling out a landing page, or something else, tell your referral partner what it is, and make sure they have an easy way to remember it.
Ask them how they store and remember information the most easily, then give them a method that fits with that, whether it's a business card, a web page with your information that they can bookmark, a landing page, or whatever else works for both of you.
A personalized landing page is a simple way to track referrals and capture potential clients' contact information, so even if they don't buy right away, you can nurture your relationship with them until they're ready to buy.
3. Show them how making referrals to you benefits them.
The simplest way to do this is to give them a commission on every sale you make to a person they referred to you.
Another way is to do a reciprocal promotion - you send me clients, I send you clients. If you do make this arrangement, it's important that you honor it, and don't just take their referrals without making any referrals in return.
Another way to encourage them to make referrals is to offer a discount or special deal to people they send to you. That way, instead of being the person who's asking clients to spend even more money, they're the well-connected expert who knows how to get their clients the best deals.
4. Stay in touch with them, so they remember you when they meet someone who needs you.
At least once a month, give them a phone call or instant message, or send them an email, letter or postcard.
When you're doing this, don't just remind them that you have services you want them to sell. Instead, check on their current projects, express interest in their lives, or offer something you think they'll find valuable, like an article on a topic you know they're interested in.
Referral partnerships aren't just about referrals. They're relationships, and the stronger your relationship is, the more people will remember you and feel motivated to support you.
5. Use a group marketing message.
A group marketing message is what you use to promote not just yourself, but a group of allied business owners that includes you. Here's an example of the difference:
A business coach who specializes in helping accountants to grow their practice could say, "I'm a business coach who helps accountants to attract more clients and to give those clients superior results, so your services are more valuable and you can make more money per client."
If that same coach is in a group of referral partners with complementary services, they could say, "I'm a founding member in a group that helps accountants to attract more clients, give superior service that they can charge more money for, and save time and expense on their marketing and administrative work, so they can make more money and focus on the work that they love and profit from.
"We don't just tell you WHAT to do - we actually do it for you. Our copywriters, graphic designers, social media experts and virtual assistants will take care of your marketing and inbox management for you, so instead of spending hours on busywork that you need to do but don't get paid for, you can spend your working hours serving paying clients."
Do you see the difference?
When you're marketing yourself alone, the service you offer is more limited, and once you've inspired someone to buy your services, you have to start the sales process all over again in order to send the client to one of your referral partners.
With a group marketing message, you turn yourself into a one-stop shop with a more valuable and comprehensive service, you add the value and credibility of your fellow group members to your marketing, and you lay the groundwork for making referrals from the start, so it's easier to make the referral later.
Working as a group also has benefits outside of receiving referrals and earning referral fees.
Some service providers are willing to give discounts on bulk purchases, and group members may be able to reuse some of each other's marketing materials to promote the group as a whole.
These two advantages alone can save you hundreds of dollars on your marketing.
6. Get your referral marketing managed for you.
Seeking referral partners is an important practice and a valuable skill, but it's also time that you DON'T spend serving clients and getting paid.
Some industries, like the real estate industry, also have legal barriers to paying commissions, so it's important to make sure that your partnerships are compliant with your area's laws.
That's why it's valuable to have an expert manage your referrals for you. It's also why I've partnered up with Matthew Radin, the JV Man, to help our fellow business owners to get and give more referrals, reduce their expenses, and make more money while focusing on their primary businesses.
He specializes in finding referral partners who share your ideal client, and who are eager to exchange referrals with you. Together, we do your marketing for you, manage referrals to bring you more clients, and find ways to get you discounts on the products and services that you need but don't want to create or perform yourself.
If you want to learn more about how to increase your income and reduce your marketing expenses, click the button below to get more details about this opportunity.