TWICKENHAM LONDON, 27/02/2010. England team captain Steve Borthw

Referral partners

This is from my series of the 7 lessons that rugby can teach relationship marketing and is a sub section of create a good team around you.

In my blog “The levels of relationships that work in relationship marketing” I defined 4 types of relationship that work. In this blog I expand on one of those levels that of Referral Partners.

From that blog I said “Referral partners are people who have agreed to proactively look for referrals for you and who you have agreed to find referrals for. You will know what each other’s good referral is and you will know how to introduce it to a contact who is in the market for each other’s goods or services.”

There are some key words in the statement above the first being “agreed”. Too often I meet people who think that they have many referral partners who are proactively finding referrals for them. The reality is that unless there is an agreed referral partnership then often there are few referrals flowing between these so called partners.

Networkers without agreements will often say that networking either does not work for them or that it does not work as well as they want it to. They feel that they have a big enough network but it is not producing the results they believe networking should. It is an easy mistake to make, especially if you work hard on behalf of your network and regularly find them referrals. You just expect that others are doing the same.

It is always the case that if your networking effort is not giving you the results that you want and you see others achieving then you are doing something wrong. Please do not blame others. You are in control of your relationships and how they develop, to be effective you should create a well-educated and motivated network who are able to be true referral partners.

Once you have found the right people what makes them referral partners? For your referral partners regular one to one meetings are a must. I would suggest that with a referral partner you have a one to one at least every 3 month in person and regular phone or Skype catch-ups in between. You must keep each other up to date on the referrals that work well for you and specifically who you are looking for. These educational sessions are the building blocks upon which the partnership is founded.

More important than meeting however is getting agreement on what you are saying about each other to prospects and how often you say it. Get agreement with referral partners that they will ask proactive questions on your behalf.

For example. If I was a florist and my referral partner was a photographer I may agree with them that every engaged couple that the photographer speaks to about wedding day photographs that they also ask “Have you found a fantastic florist yet?” If this question is asked every time then some of the time this will convert into a referral for me the florist. Of course I would also be asking “Have you found a photographer that you feel really comfortable with?”

You need to have lots of different questions to give your referral partners a choice on what will work for them because the happier they are with your question the more often they will ask it and the more referrals you will get.

I recommend that you have at least 8 referral partners.

I wish you well in establishing and maintaining your great relationship marketing partnerships.