The Next Step in Referrals for Business

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In the StableManagement.com article Use Referrals to Build Business we talked about what referrals are, who can give you the best referrals and how to get them. The next step is to follow up and make contact with the person to whom you were referred.

We were using trainer Susie Smith as our example, and her client Jane as an example. Jane attends shows nearly every weekend, puts on four shows a year, is the president of the local dressage group, and she loves you and your services. She has become a brand evangelist for you, which means she refers you and your services to her friends and colleagues, even when you aren’t around.

You asked Jane to give you referrals so you can connect with some of the people she knows in her area. She’s happy to oblige, and says she’s sorry she didn’t think to do that before. (Often your customers don’t know you are looking for new customers unless you tell them.)

Jane gives you three referrals. These are friends or colleagues whom she thinks--for whatever reason--would be open to using you as their trainer. Now what?

Remember that face-to-face with the three of you is best. The other person will feel more comfortable seeing you (someone they don’t know or don’t know well) with someone they like and/or respect (Jane). That person’s “good vibes” rub off on the new relationship with you and the potential customer. (“If Jane likes you, then you must have some redeeming qualities and be worth listening to.”)

Here are your tasks:

  • Thank Jane within 24 hours. A written note is good. An email works if the person is digitally inclined. A phone call is nice. A small gift might be appropriate.
  • After you get the referral names, do your legwork. Find out as much as you can about the three potential customers.
  • Ask Jane if she would be willing to set up a meeting for breakfast or lunch (or just at the barn) with you and one of those potential customers. Have her do the inviting.
  • Or, if this potential customer is going to be at an industry meeting (or any other community event) that you and Jane will attend, ask Jane to introduce you at the event.
  • If getting Jane, the referred person, and you together isn’t possible, ask Jane to call or e-mail the other person and let her know she recommended that you meet. Make sure Jane tells the person that you will be calling.
  • Once Jane has set the stage, call the person and set up a meeting. Don’t try to “sell” the person without meeting her unless that is needed. If Jane says that person wants to change trainers today, do your best to accommodate her. Remember, you still have to develop a relationship and continue to learn about that customer to keep that business.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver to that new customer so she has no doubts she made a good decision to use you.

Once you have turned the referred potential customer into a customer, again give an appropriate thanks to Jane. This should help her understand the power she has to help you, and encourage her to help you again.