Referral partners are worth nurturing – they can be a low cost source of easily converted leads.
For anyone starting out in business an important step is investing time and energy building a business referral network. It may sound daunting but it can be a lucrative channel of new business, and the key is to take an organised approach.
Identify prospective referral partners
Ideal referral partners tend to be businesses that share the same target market as your own, so look for enterprises in your area that share complimentary products or services.
A mortgage broker for instance is likely to find effective referral partners among the local community of real estate agents, solicitors and conveyancers. But be prepared to think outside the square. Interior designers and tradespeople for instance, could provide referrals from customers planning a major renovation.
Having pinpointed those businesses that are aligned to your own, it's time to wear out some shoe leather making face to face contact with senior managers or business owners. Introduce yourself, explain what you do, and focus on how you can help their business by pointing out you want to develop a bank of referral services suitable for your customers.
In initial contacts with potential referral sources be sure to emphasise the potential pluses for both parties, after all, a lasting referral partnership is a two-way street. Importantly, spend some time learning about a referral partner's business to make sure it really is a good fit for your customers' needs.
Stay in touch
Chances are your business is inundated with offers from a wide range of enterprises from the local catering company to major telcos. Most of these one-off contacts are quickly forgotten or left to whither on the vine.
So when it comes to developing referral partners, be prepared to make regular contact. There are ways to connect on a regular basis that can enhance your reputation as a possible source of referrals for their business.
- Show you're thinking of referral partners – send an email with links to an online article or report that you believe could impact their industry.
- Offer invitations to industry events – ask referral partners to be a guest speaker at a conference or seminar; provide tickets to an expo; or just pick up the phone and ask if they'd like to join you in a round of golf or a Friday lunch. Connecting outside a business environment can be a chance to deepen the relationship, and remember, it takes time to develop a partnership before you can reasonably expect to ask for help.
- Send business their way – now we're talking. This is undoubtedly the best way to develop a two-way referral flow. Just be quite sure that any customer you send to a referral partner is a good fit for their business.
Track your success
Maintain a record of who you have spoken to - and when, and note down the results of the meeting. This will allow you to build a suitable timetable for follow up calls, and help you track which referral sources are actually benefitting your business.
Say ‘thank you'
When you're in business, you're busy. It goes with the territory. But never be too busy to send a quick note of thanks for any sort of support received from a referral partner. Even if a referral doesn't work out, be sure to show your appreciation. Next time around the referral could be a lot more lucrative.
For information on the opportunities offered by a Mortgage Choice franchise call us today on 1300 650 330.