Who Wants Referrals?
You must be specific to receive specific.
The last couple of weeks, I've talked about networking and power partners. A major component of participating in the community and making these connections is to build your business through referrals. We all know exactly the type of customer we're looking for, don't we? Perhaps in theory, but all too often people are very general when talking about the type of client they are searching for. An insurance representative (I typically use insurance for examples) can easily say, "I'm looking for anyone with a car or anyone with a home". Yes, this is true that everybody needs some type of insurance. However, that doesn't paint a picture in my mind. You need to give the people you're talking to the ability to "see" what you want. Instead, that same insurance rep could say "Who do you know that is married and in the beginning stages of planning for a family?" This triggers multiple needs, like the fact that they'll have to feed more people on the same or less money, so they want to look for ways to save and they might not have thought about life insurance before, but surely they want their child to be provided for in the case of an unlikely event. The specific request of the "new family" paints a picture that a general request does not.
Won't being specific cause you to lose out on all the "anyone's" that this person might know? It may seem that way, but good specific referral requests usually leads to more questions, allowing you to talk about other services that you offer. Most of us as business owners offer multiple products, but you can't talk about everything that you do in thirty seconds. Remember, it's called an "elevator" speech because you should be able to do it in the time you spend with someone on an elevator. I suggest sticking to the services that provide you with 80% or more of your sales. Sure, you offer other things, but those niche components are what more in depth client meetings and group presentations are for.
If you don't know what your target market is, then do a little research. If you're part of a franchise, it's likely defined for you because that's part of their overall marketing strategy. If not, look at your client list from the past year or two. Maybe your largest client is someone you do something very specific for, but is that what you do for the majority of your clients? Create a profile of what your ideal client "looks like". Think about things like gender, age range, business size, years in existence for their business. Don't forget the emotional factor. Tell me how this ideal client "feels" (frustrated, anxious about expanding, overworked from wearing too many hats). This will create a profile in my mind so when I then meet that perfect referral (chances are I may already know someone who fits your profile), I can put them in contact with you.
Most importantly, until you can do a elevator speech on command, write it down. Create a few different ones for different times of the year or what fits your business cycle. Practice them. Talk about them with your associates, spouse or friends. Then, tweak from there. The more you utilize the phrases that paint the picture of what you are looking for, the easier it becomes to ask for referrals. Always be ready, you never know when the next person will ask the famous question of "What do you do?"