In an article in a sales magazine, a successful veteran sales manager stated that when his team received stacks of business cards and leads from the marketing team after a multi-day trade show, the leads often sat on the salesmen’s desks, or ended up in the garbage. What a waste! Hundreds, if not thousands, of leads – left to shrivel up and die. Just imagine the unclaimed revenue…
If you don’t have a system set up to handle your incoming referrals, you might be committing the same referral crime. Here’s how to create a successful referral system:
1. Map it out. You ask your client for a referral, and you get one. Now what? If you get the name on a card or sheet, where does that go? If you get it via email, who receives it and answers it?
Grab a large piece of paper or a mind-mapping software program and go step-by-step through your system. Start with the request for a referral and keep asking yourself “Now what? Now what? Now what?” until you’ve worked the entire way through your process and that referral has now been converted to a customer.
2. Get buy-in. Rare is the referral program that is handled by one person and one person only. Usually someone – a web master, a Virtual Assistant, a co-worker – is needed to help out with one or more steps in the system. Identify those who will need to help you, what they’ll be responsible for, and get their buy-in.
3. Look for problems. After you’ve implemented your system according to your map, give it a month or so and then revisit it. Are referrals being held up at a particular step? Are things going off-track? Figure out where and why, and figure out how you’re going to fix it.
4. Refine. Times change and people change. Your golden Virtual Assistant disappears to France. You decide to close your Twitter and Facebook profiles. You revamp your entire business… As a result, you need to revisit and refine your system as your business changes and your customer profile evolves. Everything might still be okey-dokey, but you may need to adjust things to accommodate how referrals are coming to you, or how you’re contacting new leads.
Systems can seem stilted and, for some people, boring. But getting it down and getting it right is a critical step to making your referrals pay off.
Click here to read Tip Number 1.