If you're looking for easier ways to acquire more customers, aside from all the seductive and expensive outreach efforts, you can achieve great results in a far simpler and cost efficient way; by building and serving real and effective referral partners. In a single phone call or meeting, these game changers can transform the destiny of your business. And in order to attract them, you need to become one of them, and embody the certain qualities of a highly effective referral partner. Here's what they do to make partnerships profitable:
1.Understand that partnership is more than a label
Partnership isn't just a label or participation trophy. There's a difference between getting referrals from others, and having or being a referral partner. Partnership is a commitment to a strong relationship based on mutual regard for mutual success, and appreciation of such a union. To paraphrase an old Arab proverb goes, it's better to base a relationship on mutual generosity than strict accounting. A strategic commitment to generosity and gratitude are the required foundation of partnership, and key players can improve your business outcomes.
2. Offer a down payment
Highly effective referral partners offer a down payment in anticipation of a fruitful relationship. That down payment may be in the form of leads and referrals in advance of a formalized relationship. They look for reciprocation, but don't hinge the relationship on that expectation. An initial lack of reciprocity isn't necessarily a bad sign. An honest party may feel indebted to their partner and may need some guidance and suggestions as to how to return the favor.
3. Ensure success with strong incentives
Great referral partners know that, although their agreements may be rooted in mutual upsides for both parties, the incentives need to be significant enough to motivate and ensure strong advocacy and proactive referral activity.
4. Take advantage of sweat equity
Expecting a quid pro quo exchange of leads between referral partners severely limits your options and opportunities. An alternative method of exchange may come in the form of services that can be rendered to support one of the businesses involved. Don't dismiss those who are willing to put forth some sweat up front in order to help you advance.
5. Set clear expectations and commit to them on paper
Highly Effective Referral Partners are not afraid of defined terms or signing on the dotted line.
This separates the pros from the amateurs and the true performers from lip service providers. After a courting period, they are willing to commit to the relationship on paper. This provides a stable foundation that both parties can rely on. A formal agreement strengthens trust, allowing the parties to execute other joint operations like co-marketing campaigns, shared expenses, etc. If a prospective referral partner flinches in the face of a formal agreement, it's likely that they were more talk than action.
6. Budget to serve the relationship
A great referral partner sets aside a discretionary budget of resources to build and strengthen their relationships. As an abundant habit and strategy, my firm has a discretionary budget of time, energy and attention, allocated to gift to certain businesses and individuals. We use this budget strategically to create and strengthen partnerships, as well as create evangelical fans and advocates in key areas.
Effective partners do the same, budgeting for and weaving advocacy and mutual education into the regular workflow.They Take the time to have a well thought action plan that spells out how they'll go about serving your referral partners. If the key activities are known in advance, and captured on paper, it's that much easier to use as the basis of a formal agreement.
7. Campaign to Educate and Onboard
Highly effective referral partners, spread the knowledge of their partners and stress the meaning and value of the relationship throughout their own company to maximize their efforts. They institutionalize knowledge by campaigning to educate and onboard each other. They do more than verbalize important information once. They ensure all parties are thoroughly educated and equipped, sending email drips and PDF's as part of the exchange, helping each other understand the few, great, and essential concepts of their businesses.
8. Provide hot introductions & get face to face to do it
A hot introductions goes beyond just sending over a name, number and email. Highly effective referral partners, take the extra steps of qualifying a prospect, warming them up, and framing expectations as to the work and character of their referral partners. And when and where they can, they may even facilitate a face to face meeting to make introductions.
It takes a lot to make partnerships work, and the energy is best reserved for those most deserving. Don't settle for less with partners. Invest appropriately and make sure that you too are that most deserving of these treasured relationships.