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How to Accelerate Referrals
 Barbara Bix, B2B strategic marketing consultant, MarketingProfs

"If you're like many professional service providers, you get a lot of business from referrals," writes Barbara Bix at MarketingProfs. But, you may not realize how closely the referral process parallels the buying process. "Just as you can accelerate the buying process," she notes, "you can accelerate referrals by anticipating what your referrers will need at each stage and arming them in advance."

Here are some examples:

  • Help potential referrers to recognize strong referral candidates. "Tell stories to help prospective referrers get a deeper sense of who you can help," advises Bix. "Be sure to describe the businesses you’ve helped, the circumstances that prompted a need for your service, and—of equal importance—how much their fortunes improved as a result of working with you."
  • Motivate them to make referrals. You can most easily accomplish this by first making a referral to them. When bidirectional referrals aren't possible; however, consider other incentives. "A finder's fee is just one option. One of my colleagues offers a free 'brand audit' to anyone who refers business to her—and, most professional service providers follow up with a thank-you note or a gift that acknowledges the referrer's thoughtfulness."

Bix notes that referrals have the added advantage of closing more quickly than leads from other sources. "For one," she explains, "prospects who contact referred service providers generally already recognize they need the service about which they are inquiring. For another, they are predisposed to believing that the referred company is the one with which to do business."

The Po!nt: Accelerate your referral process by treating your referrers with the same care and attention you give to the leads in your sales funnel.

---Source: MarketingProfs Nov. 15, 2010 (www.marketingprofs.com). Barbara Bix is a B2B strategic marketing consultant and the principal of BB Marketing Plus (www.bbmarketingplus.com). 

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