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How to Use the Perpetual Revenue System to Convert Referrals into High-Value Clients
By BILL CATES
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Bill Cates
All rights reserved.
YOUR REFERRAL MINDSET
STRENGTHEN YOUR REFERRAL MINDSET
Your beliefs and awareness with regard to referrals is what will ultimately determine your success with generating referrals. If you believe something is possible, then you'll see the opportunities. Once you see the opportunities, you can apply the right strategy or tactic to produce results. On the other hand, if you do not believe something is possible, then your awareness will be shut down, along with the possibilities of taking action and producing results. Ultimately, your belief system is your foundation for all success in life—business and personal.
Applying the above concept to referrals, I call this having a referral mindset. This chapter will help you examine your own referral mindset—where it's strong and where you might need to work.
ELEMENTS OF YOUR REFERRAL MINDSET
There are many qualities that go into a powerful referral mindset. Here are the top five:
1. Are you committed to referrals? Have you made the decision to build a business based on how your new clients would prefer to meet you? I don't care what industry you work in; it won't affect the way your next great client would prefer to meet you—and that is through an introduction from someone the prospect already trusts. Are you dabbling in referrals, knowing what to do with one when you trip over it? Or have you made a commitment to referrals? How do you know? Look at your actions, not your intentions. The way of the world is meeting people through other people, and the referral is the warm way we get into their lives.
2. Do you believe asking for referrals is safe? I've been teaching my referral system since 1996, and one thing is very clear to me. Most people are afraid to ask for referrals. They don't see asking for referrals as a safe thing to do. If you believe that asking for referrals is risky, guess what? You won't even see the opportunities that are right in front of you. This is a limiting belief that shuts down your awareness, actions, and results. Never fear, Chapter 4 will show you that there are ways to ask for referrals that aren't pushy and don't come across as begging. You'll see that being proactive for referrals is a very safe thing to do. Then this limiting belief will be transformed into an expansive belief.
3. Are you giving referrals? Finish this sentence for me: "As you give you__________." Receive! It works in all aspects of our lives, including the referral process. One of the fastest ways to start getting referrals is to start giving referrals—to your prospects, your clients, your colleagues, your friends, and your family. Just start playing the giving game, and you will see how it comes back to you. If you are reluctant to give referrals, how can you expect to create a culture of referrals within your business where clients are giving referrals to you?
4. Do you have a process to generate referrals? Most people see referrals as a bonus for doing a good job with their clients. They don't have any processes in place to make sure they are leveraging their hard work. Generating referrals is not just about serving your clients well, though that's important. To get more referrals that turn into clients, you have to be more referable, and you have to be more proactive. You can wish and hope for referrals. Not a good plan. Or you can adopt a few processes that start generating referrals right away. That's what this book is all about.
5. Do you expect referrals? Would you agree that going into any particular situation expecting a certain result increases the chances to achieve that result? Of course it does. It doesn't guarantee it, but it increases the chances. Enter every new relationship with confident awareness. You are confident in the work you do and how you help your prospects and clients. And you are aware of all the connections in their lives. You look for those connections with genuine curiosity, because at some point you may be a great resource for them. I do not recommend you tell your prospects and clients that you "expect referrals" from them. That can actually hurt your chances for referrals. Just enter every new relationship with an expectation of confident awareness. With your confident awareness, you'll see the connections in your prospects' and clients' lives. This book will give you the tools to step into those connections.
Michael Vickers, in his book Becoming Preferred: How to Outsell Your Competition (Summit Press; see http://www.MichaelVickers.com), says, "All of us as service or product providers seek to achieve Preferred Status with our customers and clients." There are three levels of preferred status.
Vickers makes the case that loyal or satisfied customers are simply not enough. He says that, for instance, if customers are loyal to you on your price, they can be lured away by a lower price elsewhere. While we all want satisfied and loyal customers, there are higher levels to achieve.
On this level, your customers have become advocates for you. They are talking about you to others. Word of mouth is a form of referral. Vickers says, "As sales and service organizations we should be continually striving to move our customers from loyalty to advocacy."
Insistence is advocacy on steroids. Not only are your clients talking about you to others, but they have become evangelical about you. Vickers says, "Companies that enjoy this level of status with their customers enjoy high profit margins and have real market security." How do you go from one level to the next and create clients who advocate and insist for you? You go the extra mile in everything you do. You distinguish yourself through the value you provide and the relationships you establish. Many companies talk about "great service" or creating an "extraordinary client experience," but few actually deliver. How about you?
People don't do business with us—or give us referrals—until they trust us. Therefore, we want to meet all our new prospects starting at the highest point of trust. That's a referral (or introduction). Borrowed trust! We borrow the trust in one relationship long enough to earn our own trust in the new relationship.
I was delivering a seminar in Philadelphia. In the audience was an experienced, successful financial advisor named Steve Perlman. Steve had heard me speak a few times before. Steve has a great referral mindset and even shared with me (and which I am now sharing with you) a couple of diagrams that show why it's always better to meet prospects through introductions. The diagrams depict the relationship between the four T's of referrals: tension, trust, time, and transaction. The diagram below illustrates that when you don't meet your prospects through referrals, at the beginning of the relationship trust is low and tension is high. The lower the trust and the higher the tension, the longer it takes for a transaction (T) to become possible.
The diagram that follows shows that when you meet a prospect through an introduction from someone the prospect already trusts, initial trust is much higher and tension is lower. Therefore, the opportunity to do business comes much sooner in the new relationship.
My first sales trainer was a man named Dave Sandler, founder of the Sandler Sales Institute. Dave once told me, "Going into a meeting with a prospect based on a referral is like walking in with a bag of trust over your shoulder."
Have you made a commitment to meeting your prospects the way they want to meet you?
CLEAR INTENTIONS PRODUCE CLEAR RESULTS
A wise man once said to me, "Clear intentions produce clear results. Vague intentions produce vague results." When we're clear about something, we stand a much better chance of getting exactly what we want. A clearer target creates better, more precise decision making and action taking.
Are you crystal clear on whom you want to attract into your business? Are you crystal clear on whom you don't want to attract into your business? If you're going to become more proactive for referrals, you better be clear.
First, you want to be able to communicate to your referral sources which kinds of clients you serve best. Second, you don't want to get stuck taking on clients who aren't your ideal fit. When you take on clients that aren't taking you in the direction you want to go, you don't have time to find and serve the clients who do.
If someone isn't a perfect fit for your business, then you are the wrong person to be serving that person. You must always strive to create win-win scenarios.
What stops some people from attracting the right type of referral client is that they just haven't taken the time to think this through or to revisit this from time to time. For others, it's a deeper issue of belief. Do you not only know whom you want to attract, but also believe you can find those people and serve them? Napoleon Hill, in his classic book Think and Grow Rich, writes, "What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Vision without belief usually isn't enough.
ENHANCE YOUR REFERABILITY
ARE YOU REFERABLE?
Are you referable? How do you know? One barometer of your referability is that you're getting referrals without asking for them. Are you? Do you have such a good initial process with new prospects and clients that they are thinking of people to refer you to before you even do much work for them? And as you work with your clients, do some of them continue to pass your name along and connect you with people? This is one measure of your referability. And this counts, by the way. Getting referrals without asking for them is a testimony to your good work.
This section will give you a few ideas on how to become even more referable—to be purposeful in enhancing your referability—so that you get more referrals without asking for them, and so that when you do ask, you'll have people receptive to your request.
A REFERABILITY CHECKLIST
Alan Weiss, in his book Million Dollar Referrals (McGraw-Hill), provides this list of qualities that contribute to one's referability. Measure this against your current client relationships.
Trust. Do you live up to your promises and claims?
Value. Do you demonstrably improve the client's condition?
Responsiveness. Are you accessible, and do you respond rapidly?
Credibility. Does the client feel it's impressive to be partnering with you?
Reciprocity. Do you recommend people to the client where appropriate?
Professionalism. Are you on time and on deadline?
Innovation. Are you leading edge, state of the art?
Reputation. Are you seen by others as being the best of the best?
Weiss notes, "The more you create and maintain breakthrough relationships, the more you will receive unsolicited referrals from your clients."
THINK PROCESS, NOT PRODUCTS
If you'd like to get referrals sooner in your relationships, then you need to think process over products. Selling a product will make you some money, but it's unlikely to make you referable and create word of mouth unless you have a process designed to deliver value every step along the way.
Do you have a clearly defined process through which you put most of your new clients? Is your process educational? Do you ask questions that get your prospects thinking in ways they haven't thought before? Do you discuss expectations? Do you question their assumptions? Do you remain consistent with your process, or do you wing it?
One Barometer of a Great Process
As I've already mentioned, one way to measure how good your initial process is, is by the number of unsolicited referrals it creates. If your initial process is not creating referrals without your asking for them, then something could be missing. Perhaps you're not creating value quickly enough to prompt your prospects to tell others about you.
Leveraging Your Process
Here are five steps that will ensure you get the most out of your process—to help you make your clients happy and to generate referrals and introductions:
1. Have a clearly defined, client-centered process that makes your prospects go "Wow! More than I expected."
2. Name your process. When you name your process, it becomes yours. No one else has your process. Clients can only get this process from you. This is a way to distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace.
3. Illustrate your process with graphic design—on paper. This brings your process to life. It helps you explain your process to your clients and centers of influence (COIs). And most people learn and remember better visually.
4. Communicate to prospects, clients, and COIs why and how your process is beneficial. Get in the habit of talking about your process on a regular basis. And always talk about it in terms of the benefits. No one really cares that you have a process; what they really care about is what the process does.
5. Bring your process to life with stories, anecdotes, and case studies. Stories engage the emotional side of the brain—which is where all buying decisions are made.
To borrow a term from Star Trek, your "prime directive" for every appointment with prospects is to bring value. When you lead with value, two things happen: (1) you make more sales, and (2) you do so in a way that makes you referable sooner. Never wing it when it comes to client interaction. Have processes in place, and have them documented by checklists. Then respect the checklists!
BECOME REFERABLE EARLY IN THE RELATIONSHIP
Helping people get started with your product or service as quickly as possible will help you create word of mouth and referrals quickly in your new client relationships. In his book The Referral Engine (Portfolio), author John Jantsch (http://www.DuctTapeMarketing.com) discusses the concept of providing your clients with an "owner's manual." Jantsch advises, "Create a getting-started guide for your product, company, or service. Create a series of how-to videos, or an automated email series providing lessons and tips, or a follow-up phone consultation. With a number of our referral tools, we have built-in follow-up programs. Driven by the technology of auto-responders, people who invest in our referral tools continue to get help from us long after their purchase.
"The point is, the faster someone implements your product or service and, therefore, sees results, the more likely they will talk about you to others. What's more, if you've done a good job educating your clients that word of mouth and referrals are appreciated, they'll be happy to spread your good word."
In their book Appreciation Marketing (http://www.Appreciation Marketing.com), Tommy Wyatt and Curtis Lewsey introduce a great concept that will enhance your referability: "In today's fast-paced, electronic world, that once handwritten 'nice to meet you' greeting card has been replaced by a robotic e-mail or text message. That once heartfelt 'Happy Birthday' phone call is now left on the answering machine. Everything is done faster, faster, and faster than ever before and it has to. It's the new millennium. Alas, all this wonderful technology that was supposed to open the door to new horizons and make your business life easier has instead double-crossed you."
Appreciation marketing—building better and stronger relationships with your inner circle and your client base—is more important today than ever before. Not only is it fundamentally wise, but where your present and future success is concerned, it's essential.
For instance, saying thank you to clients for their business and for their referrals is critical to client loyalty in your referability. Wyatt and Lewsey write, "The truth is, NOT saying thank you does more damage than actually SAYING thank you does good. If you have to contact someone regarding business, then contact them regarding business. Don't try to disguise your business efforts as appreciation. They're not the same thing. By the same token, if you are contacting someone as an act of appreciation, then make it 100% about that. Remember, if you practice Appreciation Marketing principles, the people you are appreciating already know what you do for a living. You don't need to suggest it to them. If you are genuine, you are already on their mind in a positive way."
ARE YOU SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGES?
Too often, small business owners, salespeople, and professionals unknowingly send signals to their clients that negate their desire for more referrals.
I'm Too Busy
Be careful about sending the "I'm-too-busy-to-take-on-new-clients" message. When your clients have trouble reaching you or you always appear overwhelmed to them, consciously or unconsciously they are thinking, "She's far too busy for me to refer my colleagues to her." Make sure every customer-facing person in your organization gets this message too. Several years ago, I was considering hiring a vendor to help with a project. I heard him deliver a seminar that made me change my mind. Several times during the session he talked about how busy he was, how busy all his people were, how he had to be careful about taking on more business. In an effort to "impress" the audience about how successful he was, he was actually turning business away.
Excerpted from Beyond Referrals by BILL CATES. Copyright © 2013 by Bill Cates. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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