Create Your Own
Referral Sales Force
John Jantcsh, founder, Duct Tape
Joining referral networks like BNI or local chamber
groups can be a great way to help you network and
generate referrals. The most powerful way to use
this strategy, however, is to grow your own.
Almost any business can benefit from having a group
of trusted providers effectively marketing your
business like a referral sales force. When you build
your own private referral network your business
benefits in two very powerful ways: you experience
an increase in leads and you have additional
resource to bring to your client relationships. In
some cases, this second benefit may produce the
greatest long-term impact of this approach.
How to build it
The key to building your own referral network is to
focus on developing relationships with businesses
you can believe in thoroughly. I would suggest that
the first consideration should always be – what can
this business bring to my client and not what can
they bring to me. You might start by identifying the
top products and services you know your current
clientele need and use.
There are many ways to build a “formal” referral
network. Let me explain the idea of formal. To me
that means there is an agreement between the parties
that explains what each party will do. There is a
process where each party educates the other on the
best way to refer each other. There are marketing
materials of some form that help each business cross
promote. Once this basis framework is in place,
creativity can come into play in many ways.
The one place I see these efforts trip up is when
the focus is on compensation. In other words, if
everyone in the group is concerned about keeping
score, the group is bound to fail. You must focus on
the benefit to your clients, if you do that; the
universe will take care of the rest. There will
always be members that only want to take; you’ve got
to be ready to move them out of your network.
Let me give you an example
This financial planner created his very own referral
and lead network by sending a letter to 10 other
professionals that he had worked with and felt
comfortable referring business to. This letter
informed them that he was creating a unique referral
network of 100 of the area’s top professional
service providers. He invited them to become members
and explained that he needed them to recommend 10
others who belonged in this exclusive group.
He then created a resource directory and website
that featured all 100 professionals. The entire
group promoted the directory and web site and
referred business to each other. As a result, other
professionals begged to be allowed into the group.
The strategy was so powerful that many of network
members did no other form of marketing.
Once you put your group together there are many ways
to take advantage of power of this new sales force.
Create a blog network
If ten or fifteen related businesses were to get
together and create a blog focused on a specific
target market, in a specific geographic location,
they could easily create a very valuable local
resource. With very little effort this blog would
rank very highly for local search engines terms
related to the blog topics. Even with the mainstream
recognition of blogs this is still a wide open
Interview each member for a teleseminar series
Host a monthly interview with an expert and feature
one of your network members. You can conduct these
interviews over the phone and have all the members
invite attendees to the teleseminar series. Record
each session and you’ve also created some killer
content for other marketing efforts. Keep these
calls non sales, high impact, and information rich.
Create co-branded white papers
You should be creating and using white papers in
your lead generation efforts anyway, so take those
educational pieces to other members of your network
and let them start offering them to their clients
and prospects. Put their logo on the cover with your
logo and you’ve got an instant hit.
Do endorsed mailings
One of the simplest ways to promote members of your
referral network is to mail a letter to your clients
endorsing another member’s work. If every member of
the group were to do this same thing you could
experience an instant flood of new business.
Put on a group workshop
Once you have built a strong group you should
consider hosting an all day workshop covering the
hottest topics of concern to your target market.
Each member of the group can present a topic and all
parties invite participants. For some groups this
could turn into a profit center above and beyond
Distribute marketing materials and offers
It’s pretty simple to create little leave behind
marketing pieces so that when the plumber makes a
house call he can leave a special offer from the
heating and cooling and electrical members of the
Bundle each others products and services
In some cases partnering with your referral network
can help you make a much more competitive offer.
Putting your products and services together with two
or three other providers might give your firm the
ability to compete with much larger organizations.
With some careful consideration and a little effort
you could build a referral network that would rival
any sales force.
---Source: John Jantcsh is the
founder of Duct Tape Marketing
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