Thrival Guide: Section II
Provide 1 Referral Per Week
Being in an environment of building relationships for the purpose of receiving referrals is why you decided to become a member of SBRG. At some point, you’ll receive and give referrals, and most likely have closed business from those referrals because more business comes from more referrals.
At SBRG, we believe in genuine referrals that are born from relationships, rather than forced referrals that are merely part of a rigid quota system. Nobody likes forced referrals; no one likes receiving them and no one likes giving them.
When you focus on Provide 1 Referral Per Week, it can have a drastic impact on the businesses and lives of the other members in your group. In addition, your business and life can greatly improve with a thorough understanding of the ins-and-outs of giving and receiving quality, genuine referrals.
PROVIDE 1 REFERRAL PER WEEK: WHY
As you hopefully know by now, one of the things that makes SBRG different from other business networking groups is that we do not force our members to bring a certain quota of referrals per week or per month. But just because we don’t have forced quotas doesn’t mean there aren’t goals to set for yourself — standards you want to achieve on a consistent basis.
A part of the agreement you enter into with the other members of your chapter is that you all want to see each other’s businesses grow and make more money — so you’ll be looking for opportunities for each other. Passing personal referrals is the area you have most control over and can make the strongest impact on the businesses and lives of your fellow members.
Also, if we hold to the universal law of “you reap what you sow,” the best way to get referrals is to give referrals. And just like a farmer, you don’t just plant one seed and hope to get fruit from it. Sow and keep sowing. Then tend those seeds by following up with the referral and your chapter member on how the process is going. If you follow up after the referral is passed, this brings another law into play: the Law of Reciprocity.
The Law of Reciprocity states: “If you do something nice for me I’ll do something nice for you. I feel obligated to reciprocate.” Not only is this built into human nature, but it also taps into another basic marketing concept: staying top of mind. If you’re consistently giving referrals to the other members in your chapter, this will help them have your interests in the front of their minds, whether consciously or subconsciously.
Another reason to strive to consistently Provide 1 Referral Per Week is that you can become a “Referral Hub” for your relationships, contacts and customers. You have a strong network of business professionals at your disposal, and you can use this resource to provide more value to your customers. The more value you can create with your customer base, the more likely it is that they’ll keep coming to you for your product or service, and also for other referrals and suggestions. Let your customers and contacts know you would love to refer them to the trusted professionals in your network. Being a source of referrals for your personal sphere of influence is a great way to stay top of mind for them and the people they are connected to.
PROVIDE 1 REFERRAL PER WEEK: WHAT
A referral can be defined as suggesting someone or something for consultation, review, or further action, or a person recommended to someone or for something. We all love receiving referrals, and are familiar with what they are, but in this section, we’d like to break down what a referral really is and what it’s communicating.
Regardless of the industry or business, prospective customers ask themselves three main questions when going through a purchasing process, especially when it’s for a service versus a product. The business that answers these three questions best overall will be the one selected.
ARE YOU GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO?
CAN I TRUST YOU?
DO YOU CARE ABOUT ME?
At the core of every purchase and contract are these three questions, and most consumers will consciously or subconsciously rely on the answers to them first, then factor in the cost of the product or service. This is what a referral really is: the answer to the questions all consumers ask when deciding on which product or service they want to purchase. Are you good at what you do? Can I trust you? Do you care about me?
The power behind a referral is that these three questions come pre-answered in the positive, putting the person referred to at a greater advantage to close the business. When someone you trust gives you a referral, you’ll trust that referral to the extent you trust that person, so the closer the relationship between the referrer and the consumer, the more weight the referral holds. For example, if you get a recommendation for a tree service from someone online you have no emotional or personal connection to, the referral will hold far less weight than if it came from your closest friend of 25 years.
With this in mind, it’s important to note that if you’re giving a referral, the amount of trust the referral has in you will transfer to the person you are referring to, but the opposite is true as well! If you send out a referral, and the consumer’s experience is a poor one, the level of trust that consumer will have in you, as well as in any future referrals, will begin to wane. It’s better to give out no referrals than to give out bad ones. Keep your stamp of approval strong and meaningful by only referring to businesses you feel reflect the type of work you’d like to be associated with.
PROVIDE 1 REFERRAL PER WEEK: WHO
Who are the consumers you can refer to the other members in your chapter? The best people to answer this question are your fellow members. Each week, they deliver a Business Reel that includes a Referral Request. Be intent on listening to and more importantly writing down what this Referral Request is, and ask yourself, “Who do I know who can fill this request?” If no one comes immediately to mind, make a point of looking through the list of Referral Requests and decide which ones you’ll be most likely able to fill. Then, in the time between chapter meetings or events, keep these requests in front of you and find the referral to fill them. We’ll cover this more in the Have 1 Face-to-Face Per Week section.
We’ve previously discussed your Inner Circle, which is made up of other industries that are complementary to yours, and you share similar customers. The clients you deal with on a day-to-day basis are the perfect potential referrals to pass to those in your Inner Circle.
Develop the skill of being proactive with your clients by suggesting to them that you have colleagues you work with who can fill a service you know they’re going to need, based on your service to them. For example, if you’re a general contractor and you installed windows in a home, let the homeowner know about the window covering designer you highly recommend they use.
Or if you are a real estate agent working with a home buyer, let your clients know you know a great homeowners insurance professional and it’s worth their time to talk to her.
Your personal sphere of influence is another natural source from which referrals can be gathered. And yet again, consistency is important. The people you know should consistently be reminded that you have a network of professionals you highly recommend, and provided with some examples. This could be members who are in your Inner Circle, or others who provide services that are relevant at certain times of the year. For example, in the first quarter, you can make the people you know aware of the tax professional in your chapter, or when ant season is coming, recommend the member from a pest control company.
Become a referral hub for everyone you know. Make sure you’re consistent with specific messaging about members, as well as a general reminder about your business referral network.
These are the strongest referrals you can give, but also keep an eye out for people asking for recommendations on your social media platforms, or conversations you overhear in the coffee shop. When you hear someone talking about a service or product that’s represented in your chapter, don’t be afraid to offer an introduction to a fellow member, and provide a little information about his unique service or product.
Be aware that a referral doesn’t always have to be to a consumer; other business relationships can be extraordinary referrals for others in your chapter. Strategic business partner referrals can have an even greater impact on not only the other member’s business, but potentially on the membership of your chapter. An example of this could be a plumber in your group who would like to create a strategic relationship with a general contractor or other home service provider. You can make a huge difference in the day-to-day as well as overall business of the other members in your chapter by introducing him to people you know who are in his Inner Circle, but may not be SBRG members (yet).
PROVIDE 1 REFERRAL PER WEEK: HOW
Not all referrals are created equal, and there are many factors that go into giving a highquality referral. Possibly the largest factor in the quality of a referral is the passive vs. active continuum.
A passive referral is the act of suggesting the consumer contact someone you are “referring” to. Even if done enthusiastically, and supported by a perfect explanation about the other member in your chapter, this passive referral relies completely on the actions and motivations of the consumer, and as we know given the Law of Diminishing Intent, the likelihood of the consumer reaching out is little to none. Even handing out the business cards or other marketing materials of other members doesn’t improve the likelihood that the consumer will reach out. This is a very low-quality referral, if it can really be called a referral at all.
Next on the continuum is a semi-active referral. These have come into play more and more because of our digital connections. A semi-active referral is the connecting of two people through digital means, like tagging your suggestion in a Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn post. This is a better option than the passive referral in that it gives some sort of control to the member in your chapter you are referring, but it still isn’t as strong as an active referral, because the consumer may or may not want to be connected to that person.
The active referral is far and away the highest quality referral. In an active referral, one of two things happens. One is a face-to-face introduction. The power of face-to-face will never go away, since it allows your fellow SBRG member to make a strong personal impression — and people tend to do business with people they like. These don’t happen too often, because all three people involved are rarely in the same place at the same time. But when they do happen, they’re great.
The second type of active referral is the most common, and here’s how you should try to make it occur. When you know people who need your chapter members’ services or products, the best thing you can do is provide the member’s name and company, along with a quick reel about why you believe in her services or products. Then say, “If it’s ok with you, I’ll have her reach out to you and she can answer any other questions you have. When is the best time or day?” If the response is affirmative, you can give the appropriate information to your fellow member, and log it as a referral given.
PROVIDE 1 REFERRAL PER WEEK: WHERE
Like Bring 2 Guests Per Month, the opportunity to find referrals is everywhere; you just need to keep you mind tuned to them and be purposeful. People frequently ask for recommendations, and are almost always open to hearing them.
You’re connected to hundreds of thousands of people online, and they’ll often be asking for recommendations and referrals. The closer your relationship to the person, the stronger your referral will be. To piggyback off what was written in the previous section, if someone you know posts a request for a recommendation, the most effective method to make a referral is give the person a call and ask if you can connect them to the appropriate resource. The next most effective way is to message the person, and if possible, include the chapter member you are referring to in that message.
Platforms such as Facebook and Nextdoor are prime examples of places that thousands of people you are connected to go to ask for recommendations. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that these platforms lend themselves to passive and semi-active referrals. Be as purposeful as you can about making the connection happen between the consumer and your chapter member.
As you walk through your day, you may interact with thousands of people, and the likelihood is very high that several of them are looking for the service a fellow member provides. The keys to making high-quality active referrals are asking good questions and listening well.
One of the easiest places to start to look for referrals is your existing database. This list of relationships can yield dozens and dozens of referrals, not only for other chapter members, but for your business as well. If you know 100 people (and you do) there are at least 10 people in that list who are currently looking for a recommendation to some type of service or profession. It is imperative to communicate that you’re a referral source, in addition to doing what you do.
A very easy phone call or conversation to have is to ask your existing relationships if they’re looking for a referral for any business or service. Explain the business network you’ve built and are growing with others you trust and put your name behind. This approach also fits perfectly with our core value of Look to Benefit Others First — benefiting your chapter member as well as your relationships.
“Hi John, it’s Samantha, how are the kids/job/other topic? Great to hear! The reason I’m calling is to see if you need any recommendations or referrals to any services right now. I’m part of a network of businesses and professionals I trust, and if you ever need a recommendation, I want to make sure you’re taken care of. Do you need a referral right now?”
This conversation will go one of several ways, pretty much every time.
- “No, I don’t need any referrals, I’m good.”
- Response: “Great to hear. Just remember, if you’re ever in need of a referral, whether a realtor, lawyer, chiropractor (name some professions in you group), give me a call and I’ll make sure to connect you and get you taken care of. And as always, if you know of people who need the services I provide, just give me a call and I’ll make sure they get taken care of, too.”
- “Yes, I do need a referral. Do you know a _______?”
- Response 1: “Yes I do! His name is Bob with ________.” (Then explain a little about how he does business.) “If it’s okay, I’ll have him reach out to you and answer any questions you may have. Is there a better time or day?”
- Response 2: “Yes, I’m sure my partners do! Let me check on who we know, and I’ll follow up with you as soon as I have an answer.” (Then tap into the SBRG network to find a suitable referral.)
- “Actually, I need the service you provide.”
- Response: “Great! When can we meet?”
- “No, but I was just talking with someone who needs the service you provide.”
- Response: “Perfect! I’d love to connect with him and answer any questions he may have. Would you mind asking him if it’s okay for me to reach out and see if I can be of service?”
Using your existing database and list of relationships as a referral goldmine will not only get more business for your other chapter members, but for you as well. The key is to be consistent.
Listen to the people you’re having conversations with, whether that’s at work, church, community events, the mall — anywhere. We tend to talk about the things that are important to us at the time, and if people have projects/jobs/services they need help with, it will probably come up. Actively listen for the opportunity to provide a referral, and you’ll be surprised at how many of them present themselves.
Not to be forgotten is another part of the referral process that’s vital for your business: the follow-up. After you’ve given a referral, make sure the connection was made, and both parties were satisfied with how the referral went. One of the biggest reasons to do this from a referral marketing perspective is to further reinforce the referral relationships with both people involved. Your follow-up will keep you more top-of-mind by communicating, “Hey, remember I can give you referrals” to your customers and personal sphere of influence, as well as, “Hey, remember I gave you a referral” to your trusted business relationships.