How many times have you set up a referral partnership / agreement only to see it gather dust in the bottom drawer of your desk?
No actions taken, nothing delivered and a complete waste of time. I get it. I’ve seen it plenty of times and spent a lot of my time either fixing them or replacing them by starting over again…. if the prospective partner isn’t over the whole thing by then.
The issues that cause this are many, but to name a few:
- Inability to have an honest conversation around expected volumes
- Fear of rejection is a component of this
- Lack of trust (Not spending enough time building the relationship)
- Expecting things to move too fast
- Little or no knowledge of how or why to refer (A major one)
- Leads to procrastination and a fear of referring
- Will it kill the deal I am already working on?
- Poor experiences in the past
- More…. lots more
These can be handled up front in what I call an “Implementation session”. (IS)
The implementation session is a structured session with your prospective referral partner in which you develop the ongoing nature of the partnership that mutually benefits you both.
However, the Implementation Session is only one of the many steps in developing a quality and beneficial referral partnership. Prior to this the time must be taken to build trust and respect.
I will put more details around this in a later article, but for now, let’s focus on the implementation session.
Three important matters for discussion I focus on in the session:
1. About each business:
By this stage you should know a lot about the prospective referral partner business such as client base, demographic, services etc. Next comes the likelihood and ability to refer.
I generally start with understanding how many clients the prospective referral partner will talk to in an average week, moving to how many are “off limits”? (referred by other parties etc) and then the percentage of clients who will have a need or want for your product / service. This established the likely numbers we can expect to see when the partnership is up and firing.
Ensuring the partner has a high level of competency with your product / service is a logical next step and will develop over time.
More important though is ensuring they understand the trigger/discussion points around the product/service is critical. Keep this simple and easy to use. Get an agreement to build it into their day to day process.
2. Setting common and meaningful goals (That are realistic)
A big mistake a lot of business make is not setting common goals. Rather than goals set around volumes etc, I start at a percentage of clients seen. It takes a lot of pressure off in terms of numbers and places the pressure back on following a process. Which will inevitably deliver what you want.
Start with abundance first. Don’t be too picky with the quality at this stage. That will come over time. Be prepared to educate your referral partner on what you are looking for over time. Be patient and understand it’s about the best investment you can make.
3. Building the referral process (and overcoming negativity)
This component is the nuts and bolts of the process and is where you will gain the most benefit. Building the referral process into the day to day operations of the business and having proper buy-in by all stake holders will ensure you are able to deliver on the goals you have both set.
Setting routines and rituals including regular catch ups, reporting of outcomes and “what if’s” (Complaint handling etc) is critical in ensuring ongoing success.
Joint marketing programs, the cornerstone of your partnership should be discussed, planned and pencilled in diaries at this point to ensure they are carried out. If you have marketing and/or admin staff, it’s advisable to have them accountable for delivering these on time.
Always remember it takes time, effort, patience and resilience to build a quality referral partnership. Most people give up when 90% of the work is done, as the last 10% is always the hardest.
The session generally takes 2 to 3 hours, so it is a large commitment, however one that cements the relationship and really gets things moving. It’s great to do over lunch by the way. Don’t forget “Red wine and Steak” is still the best way to establish a good partnership.
So, from here we start with 1 referral, impress the socks off our partner and move forward. Don’t forget to give as much as you can. It’s good karma.
If you have dormant referral partnerships, or would like to establish new ones to help build your business feel free to download our ebook by completing your details here: https://www.referconnect.com.au/download-our-ebook-on-referral-mark
Steve Lake | National Business Development Manager
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.nlg.com.au
He also owns Referconnect, a marketing company specialising in linking financial service providers to provide better outcomes for their clients and deliver assets and profit to business owners and stakeholders.