In a previous blog, I talked about Trust as being the first step towards giving or receiving referrals. The second step in the referral process is Business Knowledge. Do your referral sources know who you are, what you do, and how you help others? Without that basic information, how are they going to talk about you? Without that knowledge, your referral sources will not know if they are standing in the middle of your ideal referral!
With basic information, you are likely to receive basic referrals. The yacht seller will get referrals for people in the yacht market, not people in the fishing boat market. But, what if you want something better than a basic referral? Improved business knowledge increases the quality of the referral.
What do You Offer?
Do you have a product, a product line, a service, a collection of services, or a combination? The more your sources know about what you offer, the stronger the referrals they can generate. And remember the pricing! There is a wealth of website developers out there – the Tiffany of web design will avoid the Target referrals if their sources appreciate the difference.
Be kind to your referral sources! Avoid trying to discuss everything at your first meeting. You are supposed to keep all that knowledge in your head, and it took time to get there. A crash course in all you offer can be overwhelming, and potentially very insulting, to you referral source. The only exception to this is if you have only one product or service.
What Makes You Special?
Unless you have a one-of-a-kind gizmo that does something that no other gizmo can do, there are probably dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of people who offer what you offer – or something close to it. If you sell a branded product, why buy from you over any other distributor? Or, if you teach swimming, what is so unique about how you provide that service?
What is Your Target Market?
Your target market, or ideal client, is who you want to do business with 100% of the time. If all of your potential clients represent a dart board, what makes the bull’s eye? If you want referrals to that bull’s eye, your referral sources need to know what it looks like.
Target markets may change with time. That’s fine; just update your sources along the way.
Instruct Your Sources
The only way your referral sources will know this information about you is if you tell them. Similarly, the only way for you to know this information about others is for them to tell you. The best way to get them to tell you about their business is to ASK about it. And the best way to get someone to ask about your business is to ask about theirs first!