Page 1

10 Steps to Building a Referral-based Business By Cindy Saxman Spivack

This information is brought to you by mkt1on1 at How often have you asked yourself, Is there an easier way to grow my business? I believe the way we do business is changing, and it's changing rapidly. And those who are good at asking for and giving referrals will be ahead of the line. Think about it. Technology has taken us from face-to-face to virtual business in the blink of an eye. Yet it's not necessarily easier to get hold of the people you want to speak with; residential businesses have a "do not call" in place, cell phones have voice mail, and the Internet is cracking down on privacy issues. It's important to remember that relationships are what drive the referral-based business. Grow, value, and guard your relationships, they will grow your business. The following 10 steps have been developed to help you put a system in place that will allow your business to shift to being referral-based. Note: "Referral sources are key individuals who can directly refer your services to prospective clients or influence those who can. Your referral sources are generally people you know, peers and professionals with whom you have networked." Successful Professionals 1. W ho to talk to: There are many types and categories of people who are in a position to directly or indirectly refer you business. Look around you and you will notice a network of people already in place. Categorize the people you are already acquainted with, and secondly, focus on developing very specific new relationships. Know who is in a position to refer business to you. 2. W hat to say: Have a conversation; inform your listener what you do, where your focus is, what types of clients you can help best. Help your listener understand what you are committed to and why using you for a particular service will make a difference for the client. This is the time you inform your audience and then ask for a referral. Asking for a referral seems to be the single hardest thing for most people. 3. Build your Top 20: These are the Top 20 people in your network most able or likely to refer you business. These are people already in your network or those you would like to bring in. The purpose of building a Top 20 roster with all contact information is to have quick, easy access to up-to-date information for each contact. This is a living, breathing list that changes as your Top 20 changes. 4. Identify Prominent Referral Sources: Many people spend a lot of time networking with the wrong people and don't know it. By identifying where your good clients are coming from and where they're likely to come from in the future, your marketing will be more efficient. 5. W ork your Top 20: "If somebody you trust suggests something is meaningful, this is more important to you than information presented in an impersonal way." Dr. Sydney Levy, Northwestern University. Therefore, wine, dine, connect with and take care of your Top 20. Most importantly, remind them regularly about the best type of referral for you. 6. Host social events for your Top 20: This is really, really fun and yet most people never do it. Set up a golf outing, tennis match, luncheon, party, anything to get together and just have fun. If I could, I would conduct all of my business at the gym or while running because I feel so comfortable and things just seem effortless. Back in my dating days (over 20 years ago - a lifetime) I used to get all of my dates to meet me for a tennis game before I would graduate them to a "real" date. My husband thought this was really funny and still talks about it to this day. 7. Track Your Referral Sources: The old "80/20" rule applies here; most likely 80% of your referrals will come from 20 % of your referral sources. Distinguish who these individuals are and treat then accordingly. 8. Three new action steps a week: The rule of thumb for building a referral-based business is to take three action steps per week towards this goal in order to be a success. What will yours be? Plan these action steps early in the week and block time in your schedule for implementation. Just remember, it is necessary to ask for referrals in order to get them. 9. Always Add value: This is a no-brainier. Add value to your referral sources when appropriate; send newsworthy information, a card, a call just to say "hi", anything that will brighten your Top 20's day.

10. Be Thankful: Always thank your referral sources immediately, whether by card, a lunch, a gift, or whatever. Please don't leave this step out. Also, a phone call or email is fine, but a formal thank you is still required.

10 Steps to Building a Referral  
10 Steps to Building a Referral  

1. W ho to talk to: There are many types and categories of people who are in a position to directly or indirectly refer you business. Look a...