Archive for Referrals

Dec
14

Building Trust In The Sun

Posted by: | Comments (0)

sunsmallerFrom Christmas to 26 January, Australia turns into a different kind of  place.

The roads are deserted in the cities, people dress more casually at work, they go home earlier – and generally take life less seriously. The six or so weeks of the traditional Australian Summer Break show the country in a different light.

And the weeks leading up to Christmas are generally a madhouse of tying up loose ends at work, while juggling an endless stream of end-of-year and Christmas functions.

It’s a lot of fun, that’s for sure … but February can feel like a real hangover.

Because during the last weeks before Christmas and after up to Australia Day, we’ve mostly ignored our marketing activities. Especially our networking and relationship marketing have suffered, and now suddenly it’s February, our cash reserves have dwindled and we need to get some new customers, quick smart.

It can be a tricky time.

Here are some thoughts to make your February feel much better than it might have in previous years.

Doing Your Best In January

Firstly a couple of words about your BNI group:

Many chapters generally slow down during January. If your group is one of those, think about this: the breakfast meetings are primarily designed to impress visitors. Just because your chapter slows down during January, that doesn’t mean you need to stop doing your best for your fellow members.

So schedule in some January one-on-ones, and make a commitment to yourself to spend two hours a week during January on BNI related activities.

Remember we do one-on-ones because of the old saying “people do business with people they know, like and trust”. Business is about people who trust each other. We get to trust each other more as we get to know each other more. It’s not actually about getting to know each other’s businesses so much: it’s about getting to know each other as people. The more I get to know you as a person, the more I will get to trust you – and the more likely it is that I will want to do business with you.

Networking On The Beach

Having some one-to-ones in the summer season in a more relaxed setting and mindset may really help to foster deeper trust. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go and have your one-on-one at a cafe by the beach, in your board shorts. For that matter, why not have your meeting at the beach?
  • Another cool thing to do might be to organise a day at the cricket with a bunch of your BNI colleagues. Plenty of opportunity to talk about business and referrals during a day watching the red ball.
  • Or, maybe you have someone in your group with a boat? Organise a few hours on the water with a bunch of your referral partners. Lots of good opportunity to get to know each other and each other’s businesses better as well.

Referral marketing always starts with one word: Trust.Building trust is rewarding … And there’s no reason you can’t build trust while having fun in the sun.

More Free Time

Besides continuing to build trust in your BNI group, here are some other things to think about during the summer period to keep some good energy in your marketing activities.

  • Most businesses still operate during the break, sometimes on a skeleton staff, and business doesn’t cease during January (although it can sometimes feel that way). So there is actually no reason to slow down too much in your marketing activities.
  • What’s more, people have more time to read what you send them and more opportunities to take time to talk with you.
  • So make sure you send them some good stuff to read, stuff that gives them something to think about – and call a couple of your prospects or clients every week and invite them to have lunch or breakfast.

You’ll be surprised how effective it will be …

I promise you.

Roland-Hanekroot-Web-001This article was written by Roland Hanekroot from New Perspectives Business Coaching.

Roland is the owner of New Perspectives Business Coaching, and the author of “The Ten Truths Trilogy” Business books for business owners who don’t like reading business books, but know that they should. Along with being a 9 year BNI veteran he helps small business owners have more fun in their business and build a business that will sustain them for many years to come.

It happens to all of us – sometimes we’re so self-absorbed we become unaware of what’s going on around us.  If that’s a temporary state of affairs, there’s nothing wrong with it.  But if it’s a systematic methodology, well, that presents problems for effective networking.  

In a café the other day, the other latte sippers were merrily engrossed in their conversations when a severely disabled fellow with two crutches entered.  I noticed him looking around intently and it didn’t immediately dawn on me why he was scanning so carefully.  But he stood just inside the door and continued to stare.  Well this is interesting, I thought.  What’s going on here?

Slowly, he began to make his way between the tables and chairs and sippers ignorant of his difficulties.  These were all fairly closely positioned and, of course, he began to struggle.  Now, I’m not a hero but when you see that, you’ve got to do something, right?  So I got up and moved a couple of chairs and tables and requested that a couple patrons move in while he made his way.  He was appreciative and I felt good for having helped.  Anyway, as I returned to my coffee the reason for his initial studious viewing of the café came to me – he was problem solving.  He was searching for the easiest path to a vacant table.  But this only came to me by taking the time to see the world through his eyes.  

Some people think networking is a dirty word.  They think it’s schmoozing and trying to gain advantage by being a slick operator and smarmy.  Well, I can tell you from experience, people who network in this manner may be effective networkers for a short time but pretty soon people will see through them and their effective networking days will be numbered.  Me?  I think of networking as seeking opportunities to help people and the best way to quickly become aware of these opportunities is to view the world through their eyes.  Then I ask myself, what problems does this person need help with?

One of the biggest hurdles routinely encountered by BNI members is regularly generating referrals.  By being in a helpful state of mind when you’re out networking you will notice referral opportunities become more easily identifiable.  This is because wanting to be helpful keeps you present to the problems of others.  Additionally, engaging in a steady series of One-on-Ones is an excellent strategy for discovering the problems your fellow chapter members are able to solve.  So, when you are out networking and encounter people who have such problems you are in a position to simply marry the problem with the solution.  Hey presto – that’s a referral!

So get out there and get networking.  Don’t be self-absorbed, view the world through the eyes of the person you’re talking to, see their problems and introduce them to your fellow chapter members whom you know can solve them.  And the referrals?  Well they’ll just happen.

Best of all though?  Not only is this state of mind quite likely to generate business for you and present referral opportunities, it’s also highly probable to leave you with the best pay off of all – feeling good for having helped.  

Article provide by Braith Bamkin who is the Executive Director of BNI Melbourne West & Geelong. Find out more about Braith here.

Categories : Referrals
Comments (0)

Lets get one thing straight, just because someone gives you a business referral, doesn’t mean you automatically have a sale.  This referral is simply an opportunity to do business with someone who you have been recommended to.  If you can provide the expected products or services that the prospect is seeking and they are satisfied with the process, then you may have the privilege of doing business again.  If you can’t get this first sale across the line your referral source will most probably dry up.

The issue here revolves around your ability to sell.  Anyone who has experience in referral marketing will tell you unequivocally that sales skills are essential as well as referral marketing skills.  In fact sales skills are needed in every part of the process, not just closing the sale.

Dr Ivan Misner the father of modern networking researched referrals versus sales in the early 90’s.  He found that thirty four percent of referrals made between business’ owners resulted in recorded sales.  An interesting statistic, not amazingly high, though significant for business owners in terms of the power of referrals versus sales.

Subsequent research by a university student replicating Misner’s original research conducted around ten years later revealed some more interesting facts.  Thirty four percent of referrals made between business owners resulted in a recorded sale.  Yes you are suffering from déjà vu.  The exact same result as ten years before!

What does this mean for business people?  Sales skills are important and some people are better at closing sales rather than others.  However one does not exist without the other.  You are thirty four percent more likely to make a sale if you get a referral and sales skills are an essential ingredient of that process.  There are countless avenues available today to learn the art of sales

The worst thing that you can do after you receive a referral is to be aggressive, indecisive or evasive.  The prospect wants and expects a high level of respect, service and professionalism.  Remember this is a win-win situation and the better you come across at this stage, the better it will be for both parties.  You get the business, they get the goods or service

Once you meet your prospect, you have to persuade them to bring the sale to a close.  This is what people think of when you suggest the term sale.

Third, once you’ve made the appointment, persuade the prospect to buy your product or service.  This is the part that usually comes to mind when one hears the word “sale.” Integrity is paramount at this stage.  The prospect should know exactly what to expect: no hidden charges, no unexpected exceptions and no bait-and-switch.  If you’ve created a highly efficient system of generating referrals for your business, you’ll see a steady stream of referrals.  This doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be capable of closing any of them.  It takes sales skills to turn prospects into new clients or customers.

The message about sales in referral marketing is this: If you’re not comfortable in sales or if you haven’t been professionally trained, sales training is a worthwhile investment.  Keep this message in mind and it’ll serve you well in every aspect of relationship marketing and referral networking.

© Lindsay Adams 2013.  All rights reserved.

Article written by the Lindsay Adams National Director of the Referral Institue

Lindsay Adams National Director, Referral Institute The Referral Institute is a training and consulting company that specializes in working with business owners and sales people to help them develop referral their marketing vision, plans and goals, before they go to BNI to take action.  Find out more at www.referralinstitute.com.au or email Lindsay directly at Lindsay.adams@referralinstitute.com.au 

Categories : Referrals
Comments (0)
Oct
02

Why A Referral Request?

Posted by: | Comments (1)

Soon you will start to hear the term Referral Request in BNI Meetings and Training Sessions. This has been introduced to replace, the terms; Sales Manager Moment and Infomercial.

Why is this, you are probably thinking? Let me explain.

The term Sales Manager and Sales Team has been used in BNI in the past, but, really you are not selling for the members, your role in this is to introduce them to someone who has a need for their products or services.

The same with the term Infomercial, which BNI has not used for many years, but some older members still use the term. An infomercial is designed to sell to it’s audience. If you focus on selling to the group, how big is your market?

If you answered as big as the number of people in the room, you were right.

Remember you are not selling to the group you are selling through them, to the 150* plus people they know. If they need your product or service, don’t worry, they will go to you first because they already have a relationship with you.

The whole idea of referral marketing is as simple as 3 steps:

1. Look / listen / find someone who needs or could use my products or services

2. Tell them about me.

3. Introduce me

Things for members to remember when doing a referral request:

TELL THEM

1. Target market; who needs or could use my products or services, you need to know this first.

2. Tell them a story about how you helped someone or solved their problems, a point of difference is always good here too.

3. How to Introduce you.

4. Who you want to meet – be as specific as possible.

Keep this in mind when you are planning your next Referral Request and remember, be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

*Quoted from Dunbar’s number theory

Brent is BNI Australia’s longest serving BNI Director, and Executive Director of BNI Melbourne South. You can contact him at brent.edwards@bni.com.au.

Categories : Referrals
Comments (1)

Did you know that a tiny part of the brain called the hypothalamus helps regulate things like thirst, hunger, parental behaviour, pain and pleasure?  It’s true and the hypothalamus likes validation, it registers pleasure in helping others and being rewarded for helping others.  In fact it’s the place for us to recognize we need to belong to something bigger than just ourselves.

So what you ask…

Well what are Christmas and the holiday break all about?  Helping and rewarding others by giving gifts and recognition to those we have worked with during the year.  We can satisfy the urge of the hypothalamus by giving all year around in fact, simply by exercising the Givers Gain philosophy!

In fact for good referrers it’s Christmas all year!

As human beings we are actually naturally wired to make referrals and it is a satisfying urge, which can and should be satisfied all year around.  Just because Christmas is around the corner doesn’t mean that business stops and that referrals stop as well.

In order to maintain that good feeling and keep out hypothalamus humming all year follow these five simple points.

Refer to Build Your Business

It’s true and we know that the more referrals we give, the more we get, so give referrals and watch your business grow.  Referrals build our social currency and bring us to the forefront of other business owner’s minds.  By providing a referral we make a little deposit into their referral bank account.  Eventually we will either be able to withdraw or be given deposits of our own.

Making Referrals Involves Some Risk

Again the hypothalamus monitors fear, so make sure that you have confidence in the person you are referring.  More importantly make sure that they trust you so they will be confident to refer you in return.  Trust underpins all referrals and business will evaporate if no trust exists.

Boring Businesses Miss Out on Referrals

Back to that hypothalamus again, remember it registers pain and pleasure.  Make sure your business is a pleasure to deal with, make it easy for others to refer you.  Take the time to educate your contact sphere about the exciting aspects of your business that will make you or your product more saleable.

Be Committed, Turn Up, Participate

Consistency builds more and more trust.  If you consistently turn up at your BNI Chapter Meeting, participate fully, give referrals, do 1-2-1 meetings and hand in Thank you for Closed Business slips, other Chapter members know that you are serious and will work harder to support you in return.

Follow the System

A fully functioning business is simply put a set of systems or processes put into place to reach a desired outcome.  Generating referrals is about following a system. Having a Referral Marketing Plan is the key to a successful system this includes a referral marketing vision, clear goals and an action plan to make your system work.

Remember a happy hypothalamus is a referring hypoyhalmus!

Article written by the Lindsay Adams National Director of the Referral Institue

Lindsay Adams National Director, Referral Institute The Referral Institute is a training and consulting company that specializes in working with business owners and sales people to help them develop referral their marketing vision, plans and goals, before they go to BNI to take action.  Find out more at www.referralinstitute.com.au or email Lindsay directly at Lindsay.adams@referralinstitute.com.au 

Categories : Referrals
Comments (1)

The old saying that we “treasure what we measure”—and vice versa—turns out to be highly relevant in networking.

I created a survey of 12,000 men and women for one of my most recent books. As my co-authors and I explored the extent to which survey respondents correlated success and networking, we discovered that most of the people who credit networking for some of their success also maintain a system for measuring the dollar value of their networking activity. Conversely, most of the respondents who said networking played no role in their success had no system for tracking any money generated by their participation in networking groups.

In a world where news media frequently reports the latest sports scores, stock market numbers, and even the weekend’s top-grossing films, wouldn’t you think common sense would motivate business networkers to track how much they’re making from their efforts?

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t all that common.

In the survey, more respondents said they did not have a system than said they did have one. More importantly, women said that they did not have a system to follow up more than men did! It is easy to see that the more systematic you learn to make your networking the more productive you are going to be.

Male or female, having a system is key to success. However, for women, this can really be a major key for them. Why is this?

Women have fewer hours to actually spend networking. They have to balance family responsibilities from getting kids off to school in the morning to getting them to their after-school activities, home for dinner, and off to bed. Add to that all the other activities that they need to take care of in a given day and there is little time for networking.

Having systems to follow up and stay in touch allows for more productive activities and results from networking activities. There is no way to create success if your success is out in “airy-fairy” land. Hard facts and data tell you what you are doing well and what you are not doing at all. Tracking is a key factor in success.

Track Everything

There are so many things that need to be tracked:

  • What organizations you belong to and what results you are getting from them?
  • How much time are you spending networking and working your network?
  • How much money have you made as a result of your activities?
  • Who is sending you referrals, and how much of your income are they responsible for?

You must have systems around all the tracking as well as systems for:

  • Following up with those people you meet
  • Staying in touch with your network members
  • Rewarding your referral sources
  • How you are going to help your referral sources

Here is the key point: If you learn to use good systems, it will allow you to get better results in much less time. This will free up more of your time for family and personal life. The work and time is upfront developing and implementing the system. On the backside, you will spend much less time going out networking and more time working in your network.

Whether you are just getting your networking L-plates or are a contact-building buff, there are always new resources you can tap into to make your networking successful, fun, and a rewarding time-investment.

Be Visible, Be Trusted. And Be Successful.

Connecting, building trust and relationships with other professionals, industry contacts, your BNI peers, and other referral sources (and of course existing and potential clients) is fundamental to any business’ success. The potential for additional business momentum and income from building a “tribe” and trusting network is enormous.

BNI - Navigate the Networking JungleStroll Through The Networking Jungle

To get the best enjoyment and return on investment from your time spent business networking, you may want to create a few new habits that build on your existing networking strengths.

We would like to share our proven 10 Top Tips to successful networking with you, so that every business function, networking event and BNI meeting will be valuable, enjoyable, and a great experience for you.

Armed with these tricks of the trade, you will be ready to go and breeze through the (previously perhaps a little daunting) networking jungle!

The 10 Networking Tips You Can’t Do Without

Over the coming weeks we will delve deeper into each of these recommendations, plus share more networking ideas with you – to give you even more tools to grow your networking muscle.

  1. Arrive early – and leave late. Welcome new people, be warm and open.
  2. Work the room. Spot the connectors, open groups and “lost” people.
  3. Network as a group of complementary businesses or with those who use your services. Network with a client – a walking testimonial source, and a great way to forge a closer bond with your client.
  4. Be prepared. Bring a lot of business cards, and any marketing material. Wear a name badge with your own and your company’s name.
  5. Listen. Givers do gain, while hard sellers, who talk only about themselves, are seen as rude and pushy. Give the first referral, if you can.
  6. Have an objective. Be specific about the referrals and connections you are looking for. Have a good elevator pitch ready that matches your audience and goals.
  7. Create “VCP”: be Visible, Credible, – and reap the Profitability rewards. Trust takes time to develop, so network regularly.
  8. Be Consistent. How do you present yourself, how are you perceived? Match your appearance to the occasion – and your business. Ensure your online presence is consistent with the real-life “you” and business.
  9. Say thank you. It’s not only the polite thing to do, it will also make your referring contact feel appreciated, and it encourages future referrals.
  10. Follow up after your networking event! Your reputation (and that of your referrer) and conversion-rate hinge on this perhaps most important of all networking tips.

Our networking pointers are of course not all there is to successful, profitable and fun networking. But with practice, these first steps will see you go a long way in establishing a great business network, and trust. And that visibility and credibility are essential to getting referrals, making lasting connections, and to growing your business. So, which tip will you try out on your next networking quest?

How many times have you been to a chapter meeting and received a referral?  Plenty, of course. While many referrals lead to new clients, sometimes they represent mere leads or, worse, turn out to be duds.  Sometimes people give us referrals for which the referrer hasn’t taken the time or effort to make sure it is powerful and useful.

Shades of Referrals

Referrals come in different shades. We can grade them from 1 to 10, with one being the lowest shade and ten the highest and most powerful kind.  A trained word-of-mouth expert will know when to send a referral back to the referrer for a little more work before accepting it.

Shade 1: Forget About It

Let me explain.  A Shade 1 referral is someone saying, “I was talking with a client, and he said he was looking for a bookkeeper so I gave him your card.”  What is most likely to happen with this prospect?  Nothing. There is no emotional connection between you and him, and no reason for him to do anything other than add your business card to the pile they already have.

Improving the Shade of Your Referrals

What could the person have done to improve the referral? They could have emailed a recommendation of you to the prospect and included a glowing testimonial explaining how you had solved their bookkeeping issues.  This would be better than a Shade 1 referral, but still only registers as a Shade 4.

Shade 6: Now We’re Getting Somewhere

Imagine the outcome had the same chapter member made a Shade 6 referral, by qualifying the prospect’s needs and arranging permission for you to call and introduce yourself.

Anything below a Shade 6 referral is too low to proceed with any action.  If I receive a Shade 5 or less, I know I need to train my referral partner so they can give me stronger referrals.  I would usually ask the referrer to contact the prospect, clarify their needs, pass on some information about me, and preferably provide them with a testimonial.

Shade 10 – Simply The Best!

A Shade 9 referral is good, but a Shade 10 is best.  A Shade 10 referral would be a chapter member saying, “I have spoken to your secretary and booked an appointment for you with Bill Smith.  I told Bill you were the best bookkeeper in town!  He wanted to know how to get started so I took the liberty of making an appointment for you.”

Take the Time

So, think about the referrals you give at your chapter meetings: could you do a little more work before filling in that referral slip? Time and effort ensure quality referrals and increased closed business for your chapter.

Lindsay Adams, National Director, Referral Institute



Referral Institute, founded by Ivan Misner, is the strategic training
partner for BNI around the world.  If you would like to find out more about
the Referral Institute - check out their website

Categories : Referrals
Comments (0)
Feb
23

Educating vs Selling

Posted by: | Comments (0)

When entrepreneurs try to develop a qualified, consistent, and dynamic circle of networking partners who are going to provide them with referrals for new business, I’ve noticed that their tendency is to “sell” those individuals on their product. When business people join a networking group that’s focus is on providing referrals for its members, it is as if by convincing them to try their product, showing them all the finer points of what is available and closing the sale with their networking partners, they will somehow realize an influx of referrals for more of the same from those individuals.

I don’t disagree that in order for the members of your networking group to refer you effectively, they must be familiar with what you have to offer; however, when you are in front of them, it’s important to resist the urge to sell to the members! What do I mean by that?

Educating your networking group’s members about the type of referrals you want, specifically, where applicable, even the names of the individuals with whom you want to meet and develop relationships, is much more important to the success of your networking in a closed contact network than selling to the members. This demands a shift in how you see your networking partners. They are not the clients! They are, in effect, your sales force! In order for any sales force to get out there and sell you effectively, they have to know who to sell you to and how to sell you.

Below are four tips for incorporating this style of networking—educating vs. selling—into your networking meetings:

1. Teach your network members what your “dream referral” looks like. If you could come to your next networking meeting with a walking, talking dream referral in tow, what would he/she be like? Be very descriptive of this person as you talk to your networking partners, so descriptive that it’s like that person is in the room with you. The more details you provide, the greater the chance that your partners will recognize that person when they come across him/her outside of the meeting!

2. Share customer profiles and case studies of current customers. This is a highly effective way to educate your networking partners about what it is that you are looking for as a new customer/client. By sharing the qualities and aspects of your current clientele, you are illuminating the canvas for the rest of the group so they can see the picture you are portraying for them. When appropriate, consider bringing in a customer or client to talk about how you have helped him/her. These kinds of interactions go a long way toward educating the group as to the type of person you wish to have referred to you.

3. Break your business down into its Lowest Common Denominators. It is very tempting to start out your personal introduction with a statement like: “we are a full-service XYZ…” Resist this urge! When you have 52 opportunities over the course of a year to introduce a new element of what it is that you are selling or providing to the members, don’t waste the opportunity to highlight one aspect of your business by painting with the full-service brush. Get detailed! Educate your networking partners week by week with specific things that you provide. Bring support material to provide a visual. Do demonstrations, when possible.

4. Ask specifically for the referral you want. I often hear members of networking groups say things like “anyone who needs…” or “everyone who is looking for…” Usually, when I hear anyone or everyone, I tune out, because I know so many anyones and everyones, that I end up referring no one! This is an interesting dynamic, but I think it has a lot to do with information overload. When you are asking for a specific type of business referral, your request from your networking partners should be specific! Using a catch phrase that is so broad and generic will limit the effectiveness of the results you will get.

By keeping your focus on educating your networking partners about what type of referrals you wish to receive from them, you will find that the referrals you begin to see come in will be of a higher caliber and have more chances of becoming closed sales than if you try to sell the members on what you are offering. You should be trying to “educate a sales force” instead of trying to “close a sale”. Shift your intention in the group and you will find that the quality of referrals will shift for the better, as well. Keep in mind that when you join a closed contact network, you are partnering with a group of people who will become your sales force and educate, educate, educate. Your time to close the sale will come when you are with the referrals that you will receive.

Categories : Referrals
Comments (0)