Referrals are the ticket to growth for most companies. No one denies that, although some may prefer the term “word of mouth”, but it’s no different. However, most businesses focus their efforts on their existing customers; under the assumption if their customers are incredibly impressed with their results they will just naturally refer you. Which is true…sometimes…if you work at it – which you should.
Consider a way to supercharge your referrals. Strategic partners. These would be those businesses who sell to the same ideal customer profile you do, but their product/service doesn’t directly compete with yours. The appeal here is that you can both be mutually beneficial to each other in sharing referrals. It take some work to develop a strategic partner network, but it can pay off big!
This post and the next few posts will cover how to do this. Here are what we will cover in this series:
Identifying Strategic Partner Prospects
Who belongs on your power partner team, and how will you identify more? Who will be part of your direct network, and who will be part of your indirect network?
Invitation to Join Your Strategic Partner Team
What process will you employ to help power partners view working with you as a direct benefit to them? How will you structure and fully promote a more formal group of partners?
Teach Your Network Well
What tools and tactics will you employ to teach your network partners how to be better referral marketers and generate more referrals for themselves?
How to Activate the Team
What content cobranding, workshops, joint marketing, or creative partnership ideas will you employ to get your team active?
Ready? Let’s get started with the first point.
How to Identify Strategic Partner Prospects
Far too often we tend to focus the bulk of our referral energy on our existing customer base. This isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t go far enough. What will supercharge our referral efforts is a Strategic Partner Team.
In basic terms, this is a group of business owners who share your description of an ideal customer – businesses who sell to your same customers and prospects, but don’t compete with you.
The first key is building a powerful partner team is to adopt the proper point of view – the point of view of your customer. Ask yourself this question: “Would I feel 100% comfortable referring my best customer to this business?” If the answer is “no”, don’t even consider a referral partner relationship.
One of the most powerful ways to increase your value to your customers is to become a wealth of resources and information related to all of your customer’s needs. You want them to think of you whenever they need help with their business. Even if their need is unrelated to what you sell or provide. If you can become known as the go-to person for anything under the sun, you will develop the ultimate ‘top-of-mind’ position with your customers.
Two Distinct Lists of Referral Partners
To do this effectively you will need to develop two distinct lists of referral partners. The first would be your core group of strategic partners. Those would be the ones closely aligned with the same target group of ideal customers.
The second group you might call provider members. They don’t have the ability to be a core partner, but they do provide products and services that your prospects may need. Think of them this way: you are talking to a prospect and they ask you for something that you don’t provide and neither do any of your power partners. Having to say “no, we don’t do that” isn’t going to help you much. But, referring them to someone who is just right for that need puts you in a much better position.
So, where do you find these provider members? Ask your current customers, vendors, their staff, and basically anyone you meet. Ask them who are their suppliers that really stand out above and beyond all their other suppliers. After doing this a few times you will begin to hear names repeated, these are the ones you want for your provider member list.
Your goal in this is to become the go-to person for each of your customers for anything they may need for their business. I welcome your thoughts and comments.