A Guide to Building Referral Partnerships

Right now there are a hundred ways to find new business and some are very exciting. But just because there are new ways to do business it does not mean you neglect the old ways.

You will always generate business in three ways:

Chance, advertising or relationships.

Now you and I both know that good business is all about relationships! Relationships with clients, relationships with marketplace, relationships with staff.

However, the relationships that no one seems to talk about is referral partnerships. They go neglected time and time again but are essential to building a powerful business.

Consider this, a good referral partnership will.

  • Decreases advertising costs
  • Increase cash flow
  • Improve brand awareness
  • Provide leads that convert easily
  • Piggy-back existing marketing
  • Provide a better experience for your customers

So why not? This article will explain the exact steps we take our clients through to make sure they build lasting and powerful referral partnerships.

Step 1 – Map your market

Before doing anything to generate a referral partnership you must know.

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What other services / businesses do they use?

Once you are clear on this then you can start to plan out how to build your relationships. We recommend focusing on disciplines in specific.

For example, we partner with bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, financial planners, digital marketers, radio advertisers, small business educators and so on.

What you need to do in step one is to have a minimum of ten potential referrers per service provider.

Step 2 – Set targets and track them

Step two is getting very clear on the outcomes you wish to achieve in the development of your referral partnerships and the actions required to achieve this.

As this is a powerful component of business development we treat it as such and ask our clients to set clear measures to achieve.

Set a target for the following actions.

  • Networking events attended per week
  • Business function per quarter (Dinners, in-services, Balls)
  • Introductory phone calls
  • Referral partnerships developed within 90 days
  • Referrals received in 180 days

Quite often our clients will ask us to recommend a target for them in terms of networking events attended and so on.

This changes drastically with the size of business you own but our answer generally remains the same.

Attend as many as required to hit your target referral partnership.

Step 3 – Don’t rush it!

Now if there is any step that is more important than the others it is this one.

Do not go to a networking event or interact with a business with the intention of setting up a referral partnership.

Sounds counterintuitive right?

This is so important, do not look for a referral partnership. Get to know the business and whether or not you are a good fit for them, and they for you.

Remember, you are asking a business to risk their brand with you and secondly you do not want risk yours with someone you do not know.

Instead of pushing, make a friend, introduce yourself and suggest the obvious.

“It’s pretty obvious we work with similar clients, how about we catch up for a coffee next week and see if there is a way we can help each other out?”

Step 4 – Give before you receive

Much like closing a sale, building a strong referral partnership is all about trust. When you are in the final stages of building this relationship, focus on how you can help.

Ask them exactly how it is they think you could help their business and then suggest how they could help yours.

Much like making a sale, you are seeing if this is a good fit and whether your potential partner has what it is that you are really looking for.

Step 5 – Take small steps strongly

Trial the relationship, get agreeance to one or two referrals early but be very clear on the outcome they want for these referrals.

Take the time to see how your new referral partner is handling your clients and whether or not you are working to their standards and scale appropriately.

Finally, be honest! Stand your ground and hold your expectations high. As good as referred business is, it is not worth a damaged brand.

If you would like to have a chat about how to further build referral partnerships, simply book in a time for a complimentary 45 minute strategy session here.

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