by Tony Vidler
Referral business is pure gold…it is the Holy Grail for advisers to be running a business where they are only working with referrals.
Most have the problem of having to sit back and wait for clients or centre’s of influence to refer, but you can generate the referrals you want when you want them.
The best way to explain it is with an example.
Let’s say I wanted to do business with one of the biggest firms on the local stock exchange…but had no relationship with anyone of consequence there. The example I will use is Xero….a rising rock star of a company….
If I wanted to do business with them (and it IS just an example, as they are not my target market, but it is a big fish that would too big in many advisers minds), but have no relationships with anyone there of any consequence, I am just another cold caller potentially. We all know the chances of the cold caller with a good value proposition landing that client….slim. A huge part of the reason why the chances are so slim is because it is just so hard to get through to, or in front of, the biggest decision-makers in the place, right?
Personal introductions pretty much always work though, don’t they?
So the way to work is to create a “referral” to the key decision makers, and here is how to do it.
In our example, I googled to find out who the key people there are. the Number 1 decision maker is the CEO.
I can find out about him now that I know who he is on LinkedIn easily enough…BUT…
…here’s the beautiful bit: I can also find all the people I am connected to who are connected to him. AND Linkedin list them in order of “connection strength”, giving me an indication of who is most likely to have the strongest connections with him.
Instead of working out how to structure my cold call approach I am already thinking about who I know that knows Rod and who is able to give me the favourable introduction. Or better yet, a number of “who we both know…”
Clicking on the little dropdown box next to the “connect” button (or rather, next to the “send Rod an inmail” gives me further detail on our mutual connections and links.
At this point I would not use the LinkedIn “introduction” in mail feature. I pick out the 2 or 3 people who are most likely to help position me favourably, and then I pick the phone up and talk to my existing friends who happen to be connected to the guy I want to talk to. Explain to them what you want to do and ask if they are ok with introducing you….if you do this well and ensure that it does not reflect badly on your friends, they will nearly always be willing to do it.
In other words, LinkedIn becomes your source for intelligence gathering, but then take the process off-line. Absolutely you should send them an email after the phone call that outlines briefly what you are asking for, such as
“I really just want to spend 20 minutes having a coffee with Rod because I believe that some of the work I have done with accountants can create some mutual new business opportunities for his business and mine. If you could just call him or drop him a line letting him know that I am not a time waster I’d appreciate it”
If you have picked the right connections to begin with they will do it every time, and if the person you want to work with gets contacted by 2 or 3 respected contacts, the opportunity door is wide open.
Then it is over to you to pick the phone up, call and chat and set up the time with the referral you generated. The favourable introduction has been created, and you are through to the decision-maker you wanted….