For years I always heard about this mysterious thing called a “referral”. It was a mystery for me in the B-2-B sales world. Even from a retail standpoint it was always a mystery where my next referral was coming from. We always relied on our advertising. In 2009 I joined BNI, Business Network International, and began attending weekly meetings with a group of professionals. It took me a few months and some training to realize how to make this “Referral Thing” work. FLASH FORWARD to today and I can count 23 closed deals for $231,000 in income for me and my business from referrals in under 2 years. IT HAPPENED, but it took me taking a serious look in the mirror and making a commitment to do what’s right for everyone else. I have made 1 cold call in 2+ years since I made this decision. In one of my previous blogs “This one is for Sales People and Sales Managers…“, I talked about how many companies are teaching their staffs a sales practice that is dated and only focused on today.
It wasn’t easy, for 6-8 months I resisted the temptation to do what I always had done, cold call and do what was right for me. Instead I started doing what was right for everyone else. I focused on how I could help 5-6 friends of mine. I helped close deals for them, I promoted them, I volunteered, etc. I did whatever it took to help them and stay visible to them and I did not focus on my needs. For the first time in my life I was not concerned with Matt Plapp, I was concerned with everyone else. IT WORKED. The results above speak for themselves, now I don’t even think about cold calling. I do more calling for my referral partners than I do for myself and every week we pass high pre-qualified referrals to each other.
This exact method is not hard to duplicate on a business’s marketing plan. Recently I was sitting down with a client and I asked what they were willing to do to help their customers? We needed to reach more women and kids and I suggested that we need to create 2 year plan to help these customers for FREE! This is a hard pill for a business owner to swallow. The tendency is to look at only what’s going to move product NOW. I’m a big proponent of not only looking at now, but looking at THEN. What can we do the next 2 years to build a relationship with new and existing customers by only helping them? I challenge you as you are planning for 2011 and building your personal and business marketing plan, step outside of your comfort zone and create a plan that benefits everyone else and you last. You’ll be amazed with the results.
I’d like to thank The Referral Institute Cincinnati, Brennan Scanlon, Geof Scanlon and Duane Plapp for helping me realize how to do it right.
Matt Plapp is a the President of Driven Media Solutions, a Full Service Marketing Firm in the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky area specializing in small business marketing via grass-roots, events, guerilla, online and social media marketing. You can contact him at email@example.com.