When you ask almost any business owner where most of their business comes from you’ll hear ‘referrals’. The thing that’s sad is that when you ask them how they get referrals they usually say something that sounds good but isn’t truly actionable. It’s airy-fairy nonsense when you think about it, though it sounded good at the time.
If you’re starting a new business, or just don’t get many referrals, how do you move to a place where referrals are coming in fast and furious? Lucky for you the whole purpose of Unstoppable Referrals is to teach you how to get referrals coming in.
There is a reason you’re not getting all the referrals you think you should get. In this book I’ll show you what that reason is and what to do about it.
The book is broken up into 4 major sections. The first lists the ‘Essential Conditions Necessary For Attracting Referrals’. These are:
- Are you referable? Are you different than your competition? Did you bring value? Are you likeable? Are you trustworthy? The reality is, without these things you’re just not going to get referrals.
- Do I trust you? This feels like a repeat of the section before with just a slight expansion on ’trust’.
- Finally it lists reasons you’re not referable, like you didn’t actually deliver on time or on budget. If you can’t do that then no one is going to refer you to other companies.
You certainly need to deliver on what’s promised…and a little bit more. Yet, that’s not the real key to unlocking 10-times more referrals.
No, in fact, it’s nothing more than the entry fee to the dance. The minimum you need to be included in the referral game.
The second major section of the book covers how to build your ‘Referral Kit’. We see these all over now. On my site it’s the manifesto I give you for free so you’ll sign up to my email list. It could be a podcast that’s free (the book’s author speaks of CDs to give to busy commuters) or a physical book to put on someone’s shelf. The main thrust here is that you get your clients to give this item away to start building the relationship with the new prospect. That’s what they do to ‘refer’ you.
If you’re the one educating a prospect on a problem they face…the one helping them better understand it…helping them see and analyze all of their options…and showing them the next step towards a solution, when they’re ready, how do you think that’s perceived?
You move from sales person to trusted advisor.
The third section is titled ‘Getting Referred’ and assumes you have a ‘Referral Kit’ in place to give away. It’s all about the process of getting your clients to help you move to that level of trusted advisor with the people they know.
It recommends stuff like putting together a list of people your clients may know and showing it to them so you can ask for an introduction, or so that your client can pass on your Referral Kit. The author does a bit of work to help you define your ideal client so you can build that list, but books like Book Yourself Solid cover what your ideal client should look like in much greater depth.
It’s worth mentioning again…as you work to identify your IDEAL client type, a narrow, niche focus is best. By focusing in, you direct all of your energy to attracting your IDEAL client and you’ll find that results come easier and faster. Time and again, I’ve watched business owners stubbornly go after any and all business. They never really get momentum and they struggle to move from 1-on-1 sales where every client you attract is a custom job, to a place of leverage. Where you have a niche message finely tuned to the fears and desires of your specific IDEAL client.
The final section helps teach you how to turn these leads you’re getting from referrals and turn them into clients. Getting all these leads is totally useless if you can’t actually convert them into paying clients.
Master the techniques I’ve covered up to now and you’ll have no shortage of new leads and you’ll have a system for continually getting them.
But this is only the first piece to the puzzle.
Many people use a sales process to get people in the door and then totally drop the ball. They figure after the initial introduction, the prospect knows about them now and will certainly come to them when they’re ready to purchase. Yet that’s not what happens — prospects will forget about you and move on to another provider who contacted them more recently.
The key here is follow up, follow up, follow up. It’s likely you don’t follow up enough with prospects for fear of becoming annoying. According to the author, Steve Gordon, that’s a bad idea. You’re not going to get annoying if you’re doing follow-up right, so build out a good follow-up process and watch the leads turn into clients.
3 Big Takeaways
Here are my big takeaways from Unstoppable Referrals that I’ll be taking action on in my business over the next few months.
Have something to give away
Your referral kit, if done well, as I outline in the next two chapters, will be perceived by both the referrer and the referred prospect as a gift. Given by one, received by another.
Far too often we just ask for a referral cold, so stop that. In fact, stop for a second and think about the referrals you yourself give enthusiastically. For me it’s the 48days.net community, and I give away copies of Dan Miller’s book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, at least 10 times a year.
This book is his ‘referral key’ to use author Steve Gordon’s term. With that book as his lead-in to his later services (courses, conferences, coaching…), Dan Miller builds trust.
For you this could be a white paper or a guide to choosing the proper eCommerce solution to fit the business of your prospect. The big point is that you need to have something that’s actually valuable to give away. Then the ‘ask’ turns from something that can feel a bit sleazy to asking if your prospect knows anyone that would benefit from your ‘referral key’ and if they’d be willing to share it.
This lets your client feel like they’re providing value to their friend and that they’re helping you out at the same time. Stop asking for cold referrals and build something simple that your clients will love to give away because it helps the people they know run an awesome business.
Follow up way more than you think you should
What’s the perfect follow-up frequency? It’s a lot more frequent than you think.
When most people start to think about follow-up frequency they default to quarterly. Don’t bother. Three months is way too long for a prospect to go without hearing from you. Might as well not follow up.
I recommend monthly at a minimum.
I have defaulted to monthly, sort of. See, I follow up via my email list weekly with lots of people (join now if you’re not getting it). The place I don’t follow up much is personal emails to people, and I try to do those quarterly.
This means that as my clients get emails from me weekly that can help them run a better business, they also get a personal connection every so often.
The big thing I need to get better at is turning that quarterly follow-up from “Hey how’s it going?” to something that provides more value for my prospects. This means I’m going to have to get to know you, dear reader, better so that I can know what you need and how I can help at a personal level.
For you, are you even doing any follow-up with prospects? How about clients you’ve had for a while and just haven’t heard from lately? Do you make sure things are still going good or ask if they have more work that you could do?
Focus on that 30%
Begin to look at prospects in the 7% and the first 30% tier that Chet Holmes described. Prospects that are either likely to buy, but aren’t quite ready and prospects who would be open to the idea of buying. If you understand that there is virtually no competition for these prospects — everybody is focusing on killing today so they can eat tonight. If you focus on opening doors with prospects in these two groups and educating them over time, until they are ready, you’ll find your business becomes much more stable, predictable and profitable.
I’ve been prone to focusing on that 3% of users that actually email me wanting work now. I’ve only done ‘okay’ at following up long-term with users so that means I’ve only done ‘okay’ with the 30% that will need my services in the long term.
You see this done well in the online marketing or info product world, where you can join email courses for free and then you get followed up with based on your interaction with users.
If you want a great long-term business then you need to start focusing on that 30%. I know that I’m going to spend a bunch of the rest of the year making sure I do that so that I can have a stable of clients waiting to work with me all the time.
Should you read this book? I’m actually still on the fence about it. When I initially finished reading it I would have said no. Now that I’ve written about it I see lots of good in it for you to create a great referral system in your business. I’m going to do a bunch of the work to refine my referral system.
Maybe I’m on the fence because some of the recommendations feel uncomfortable, like following up monthly instead of quarterly. Though I’m sure for most people that I tell to blog weekly, that recommendation feels uncomfortable and like too much work to write that much.
If you have no referral system, then I’ll go with yes, you should read this book. If you have white papers and an email list that gets regular content and you follow up with the key people on that list regularly, then maybe there is something else in your business that would have more impact and you can skip this book.