Ah referrals from business contacts the one thing most small business owners would like more of. Why then, doesnt it happen as much as most people would like? I have a theory and it goes somewhere along the following lines:
Two business owners meet at a networking event. Their businesses compliment each other so they touch base after the event and they talk about how they could refer business to one another. But, after they put the phone down, they never talk again.
Ive lost count of how many times the above scenario has happened to me. So, why is it that both businesses agree that referring customers to each other would be a good thing, but it doesnt actually happen?
Well, my theory is two-fold:
Firstly, I believe that the reason small business owners dont refer to one another is that its hard work getting a customer. And if a customer requests something that you can possibly do yourself, youll keep the work instead of farming it out to someone who might be better placed to help them.
The second part of my theory is that even if you cant do the work yourself, youre only going to refer the customer to someone you know, like and trust and have built up a good relationship with. Lets face it, why would you refer a customer to someone youve only met once or twice at a networking event?
How do you get around this?
Well, if you really want referrals, you need to be thinking about how to build a relationship up with that person and then you need to work at it so that they feel comfortable about working with you and referring their customers over to you.
Certainly, if you want referrals from me, youre going to need to work a bit harder than just asking me to refer all my customers over to you. Ill usually give you a start by saying lets swap website links or would you like to write an article for the newsletter. Then the balls are in your court you need to work with me to build that relationship up by offering me something in return.
What could you offer me? Well, here are a few quick suggestions:
You could invite me to a networking group youre in
You could send me an article that youve seen that you think would be useful
You could invite me to speak at an event that youre doing
Do you notice how none of the above are to do with referring customers to each other, but they do help to build the relationship and the more you work at doing this, the more likely I am to get to know you and refer my hard-earned customers over to you.