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How to Create a Referral Platform

September 23, 2010

I've been talking with a lot of clients about how to create referral platforms lately.  If you want organized networking and referrals, BNI is a great group (I'm a member), but nothing beats a referral group, that all target and service the same ideal customer profile with a different set of services and products.  So, with heavy borrowing from Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine (both John Jantsch), here are the 10 steps I have been sharing with my clients on how to create a referral platform for their business:

1.     Decide whether your referral group will be geography based – (eg Dallas Area) or Industry based (eg Non-Profits) or both.

2.     Indentify the specific types of businesses you want in your “platform group”

3.     Write these company types out in a document

4.     Put names into the doc – company, person’s name, title and contact info – where you already have a good candidate identified

5.     Call your customers to ask they who they know that would be a good vendor they would recommend for the open slots you have

6.     Ask for an email intro to those vendors they recommend

7.     Meet with vendors 1:1 and explain the referral group you are building.  Get to know their business and if they are a good fit, invite them to participate.

8.     If they agree, gain commitment that they will participate in phone and in-person networking meetings

9.     Schedule an initial meeting with the whole group so everyone can meet face to face.

10.  At that meeting:

  • Each Member should introduce themselves and their ideal customer
  • You should work with them to develop a perfect introduction for their business
  • You should get agreement for your regular meeting schedule – at least 1/month by phone and if geo based, 1/qtr in person.
  • You should recommend a referral payment program (eg 10% of the closed business) so that everyone is about the same or you should recommend that the group give referrals to each other and no money changes hand – only business.

Of course, to do this and have it work, you need to be able to:

  • Clearly define your ideal customer
  • Be able to articulate your unique difference
  • Have an organized sales and nurture process so you can give back to the group.

If you need help with any of those, or in creating and activating this type of group, drop us a line.

Dan Kraus
Written by Dan Kraus

With more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and go-to-market strategies, Dan Kraus has developed a deep portfolio of experiences that he now uses to help small businesses profitably grow their businesses. As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the challenges of growing a business with limited capital and human resources. As a line of business manager in larger companies such as SAP America and Great Plains Software (now part of Microsoft), his experience launching new business ventures inside reputable organizations established his reputation as a creative and effective executive that could both plan and execute within corporate confines.

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