Hopefully, you have already realized that a great Referral Partner can be worth a lot more to your business than any one client.
My question for you is, “Do you have a clearly laid out plan -- and are you working that plan -- to meet great Referral Partners on a regular basis?"
I believe you shouldn't let a week go by without some activity to meet new Referral Partners and/or strengthen current Referral Partners. Here is a 10-part checklist to maximize your partnership results.
Referral Partnership Checklist
1. Identify at least five categories of Referral Partners.
Every industry has what BNI founder and the "Father of Modern Marketing" Ivan Misner calls “Contact Spheres.” Identify at least five natural Referral Partner categories. Create a plan for meeting them.
2. Ask clients and other Referral Partners for introductions to more.
You can certainly meet potential Referral Partners at networking events, but your best source will always be your clients and other Referral Partners who can vouch for you and your product.
3. Provide value before trying to get referrals.
Your first goal with a potential Referral Partner is to provide value. Look for ways to contribute to their business with resources, idea, introductions, and thought-provoking questions.
4. Determine the business chemistry.
You’re not going to get along or connect with every potential Referral Partner. Do you generally like this person? Will you enjoy interacting with them? Would you do business with this person? Do you feel comfortable sending people their way?
5. Have a clear, concise way to explain the benefits of your differentiation.
Your Referral Partners will want to know how you, your processes, and your products or services differ or stand out from others who they perceive are in the same business as you. And always, always, always translate how that difference creates one or more concrete benefits for your clients.
To do this effectively, consider using software like PartnerPortal. PartnerPortal's platform offers the ability to display "Program Terms" externally and internally within the portal, which gives partners a clear understanding of what they'll be receiving in a partnership with you.
6. Make sure you are referable.
One of the most effective ways to become referable in the eyes of a potential Referral Partner is to walk them through your full value proposition. This takes some time, so you both have to be committed to forming a productive referrals partnership. The more they see your process and the many places you deliver value to your clients or customers, the more they will feel comfortable sending people your way.
Hint: Just because you sent your potential Referral Partner one or more referrals, don’t assume that this automatically makes you referable. It doesn’t.
7. Determine your Referral Partner's ideal customer.
If you believe your Referral Partner is looking for a reciprocal referral relationship, be sure to get crystal clear on who makes a good prospect for them -- whom they serve the best. (Note that not every Referral Partner will want or expect reciprocal referrals. Some just want to have a great resource to whom they can recommend others.)
8. Teach your Referral Partner about your ideal customer.
One of the prime reasons why Referral Partners don’t provide great introductions is that they aren’t sure how to recognize someone who is a good prospect for you. Make sure your Referral Partners know how to recognize a great fit.
9. Get clear on how each of you want to be introduced to ideal prospects.
Never assume a Referral Partners knows how you like to be connected with your new prospects. You definitely want more than just word of mouth. You want to be introduced in some way.
10. Agree on how often you will meet.
Productive Referral Partnerships require a certain level of ongoing communication. You both need to remain referable in each other’s eyes. You want to make sure you are meeting each other’s expectations for the relationship. Agree on how often you’d like to meet -- monthly? Quarterly? Semi-annually?