There aren’t many lines of business that don’t highly value ‘referred’ prospects. They typically incur the lowest cost to originate, and are most successfully converted into new business. Business referrals come from a number of sources, but each of those sources has one common thread; there is an element of trust in your business that is transferred to the prospect.
We have identified 10 referral channels that deliver an element of trust to a prospective client. Not all channels will be open to every type of business, however it is worth considering which channels of trust could be effective for your business, and what you need to do to access them.
Channels of trust could include:
- Authority – In the sales process, it’s best if you’re considered to be an authority-type person who is trusted instinctively. You might establish your “authority” by your qualifications, experience, knowledge, high profile clients and relationship with your customers.
- Affinity – A lot of people prefer to do business with people with whom they have a shared affinity. This might be based on membership of a sporting organisation, religious organisation, location or political affiliation. With what types of community groups do you have an affinity? Can you improve your affinity relationships?
- Credibility – In the sales process, the salesperson needs credibility. This basically relates to having “walked the walk before you talk the talk”. What’s your profile in your industry? Have you established yourself as a credible person?You might be able to improve your credibility by ensuring your LinkedIn profile is current and regularly updated. It’s also a good idea to regularly publish articles on what’s being achieved in your business, or specialist content that is helpful to a prospective client that demonstrates your expertise.
- Longevity – Years in business and experience in an industry are great credibility factors in business. Don’t be afraid to refer to the number of years you’ve been involved in the business.
- Celebrity – It’s great if you can be known for something important. This might have come about because of your standing in the community, articles you’ve written, speeches or presentations you’ve made, conference, seminars and workshops in which you’ve participated, as well as books or articles you’ve written.
- Familiarity – Are you consistent in your communications, telephone calls, meetings, and relationships with people, showing empathy and becoming a friend? This can be achieved by having a meaningful message with each interaction, trying to uncover something below the surface through a series of open-ended questions that help you achieve a memorable connection to build upon in the future.
- Frequency – Do people regularly see or hear from you? This is not always possible in a wide-spread market. You might be able to achieve this by:
- writing regular blog articles
- conducting webinars
- communicating with your target audience on an ongoing basis
- updating your website with interesting information
- simply calling or talking to your contacts
- Testimonials – Testimonials are powerful tools because they’re an independent person's commentary on you or your business. Testimonials should be placed on your website as well as on your LinkedIn page because these endorsements are very powerful in communicating a comment relative to your business and your personal attributes. Reach out to some of your valued longstanding client relationships and request they add an endorsement on your profile.
- Place – Are you well-known in your geographical target market? Do you attend conferences and seminars, sporting events, or events your customers and prospects go to, so that you can be seen, observed and spoken to?
- Demonstration – It’s very difficult to be a force in a business if people don’t see or hear from you. Businesses need to ensure that key people are involved within the business and they are seen to be involved. Seeing is believing.
Consider whether you can coordinate your activities so that your business is working to the best of its ability in order to leverage most of these channels; a few targeted activities could result in a positive change to drive your business forward. If you would like to discuss how you might access these channels of trust to attract referral business, speak with your usual Hanrick Curran Adviser or ask for our Business Improvement Consultant Angela Winton on 07 3218 3900.