When was the last time you tried out a restaurant, an app, or a new service because someone you know and trust recommended it to you?
Not too long ago, I’m guessing.
Study after study shows that ‘social proof,’ especially from people you know, is one of the best ways for businesses to get the word out there.
So, it is no surprise that ‘Referral Marketing’ is one of the most successful ways for entrepreneurs to source new business.
But let me ask you something: Have you ever had the referral fall flat?
Maybe you got no response (disappointing).
OR you go all in, and a 45-minute drive and coffee bill later, you realize that this referral wasn’t right for you at all (extremely frustrating).
It happens. Since so much of my business is based on my clients telling other people like them about me, I decided to take a few steps to drastically increase the odds of a successful referral.
Well, I don’t even call it a referral. What I seek is not a referral, but an ‘Introduction.’
Introductions vs. Referrals
What is the difference between the two, you ask?
A referral is someone giving me a prospect’s contact details and asking me to contact them because they need to get their Life Insurance or succession plan in order.
Or the other way around: Someone I know gives a potential prospect my details and asks them to get in touch with me for their Life Insurance or succession plan in order.
Hit rate? About 50%, I’d say.
An introduction on the other hand is a highly focused and intentional connection in which the ‘connector’ is actively involved.
They write an email or set up a meeting connecting me to this potential prospect and establish the grounds for a connection. The connector needs clarity on what the prospective client is looking for and what I offer to make a relevant connection.
Introductions are warmer, more focused, and less passive than referrals.
Hit rate of introductions? Done well, it can be as high as 90%.
Why I Work on Introductions Only
I work purely on an introduction basis. As of now, I work with a select four to six new clients a year. I know exactly who fits my Right Fit Client profile and whom I want to connect with.
For my right-fit client, time is just as valuable as it is for me. Both of us and our introducer must be all clear on why we are being connected and the likelihood that the relationship is a good fit.
The focus and intention of an introduction as opposed to the ‘light-heartedness’ of a referral allow that.
Today, all my clients in my seven-figure Life Insurance advice practice come purely from focused introductions.
As with any ‘lead generation’ system, establishing an introductions-only method took time and was fraught with challenges.
The biggest challenge is this: Introductions are somebody else’s action. And you can only influence somebody else’s actions, not control them.
So, I needed to figure out ways to tip the odds in my favor. I needed to figure out ways to increase my chances of a successful introduction.
How to Increase Your Chances of a Successful Introduction
Here are the five key steps I took to set myself up for successful client introductions, and that you can take too, to make the shift from maybe-maybe-not referrals to highly focused, fruitful introductions.
- Get Crystal Clear on Your Right Fit Client
I mean it. Clear as quartz. I have profiled my right-fit client down to every detail and I know right away when someone fits or doesn’t fit the bill.
I have four client categories: Category A, B, C, and D, with Category A and B clients being desirable clients for whom we want to make up 75-80% of our client list.
Category A clients are high and ultra-high-net-worth entrepreneurs and Category B clients are ultra-high-income C-level executives, or slightly lower net-worth entrepreneurs experiencing exponential growth in their income and assets.
I regularly publish content about my right-fit clients. I tell my network who my right-fit client is. I speak on stage about who my right-fit client is.
I’m making it difficult for people to associate me with any other type of client, or rather, I’m making it difficult for people not to think of me when they are in front of my right-fit client.
2. Ask for Introductions
Note: I don’t ask for referrals. I ask specifically to be introduced to prospects. Because I am so clear on whom I want to work with, I typically name the prospect to whom I want to be introduced.
Today, you’ve got LinkedIn and other social media networks to see whom your existing clients and peers are connected to. Take advantage of that, identify the prospects you want to get introduced to, and ask for the introduction.
I didn’t have that digital luxury – so back in my day, we figured out whom our clients knew by seeing who they were with at social events or the country club or by figuring out who their colleagues were at work. Look closely. You’ll see that your client probably plays golf with three entrepreneurs just like themselves – entrepreneurs you have wanted to reach but haven’t had an ‘in’ with. Well, now you’ve got one.
3. Train Your Introducers
This might sound a bit pompous – why would anyone take the time to ‘learn’ how to refer business to you?
Well, you might have an introducer’s fee on the table, but even if you don’t, remember this:
When someone introduces you to someone in their network, they’re putting a little slice of themselves on the line. They want to be perceived as resourceful to the prospect as well as to you.
So, if you make it easy for them to make fruitful connections, they will take it.
You can train your introducers by telling them exactly who you want to be introduced to and how. You can train them to listen out for keywords or problem statements that indicate that you can be of help. You can also provide them with introduction notes (ready to copy and paste into an email) and links they can share when introducing you.
The more quality information you can provide them with (don’t flood them, keep it focused and concise) – the more control you will have over the narrative of that introduction.
Remember, as I mentioned above – the challenge here is that you cannot control the actions of your introducers, only influence them. Giving them the tools and information they need to introduce you the right way is a great way for you to influence them.
4. Build Your Introducer Network
Just like you would build a pool of prospects, build a pool of introducers. Nurture these relationships. When it comes to introductions, out of sight is definitely out of mind.
Send your introducers birthday wishes and holiday greetings, and set up coffee meetings or lunches without any specific agenda – just to catch up and learn about what is going on in each others’ lives.
If you feel like you don’t have the room on your calendar for more lunches, use social media to show up on their feeds, drop them a message, and stay in front of mind.
Keep your introducers up to date on the latest in your business and life.
5. Show Gratitude and Reciprocate
Always be thankful and show your gratitude for an introduction – regardless of whether it turns into a sale for you.
Some people have Introducer Fees in place to reciprocate for a successful introduction, and that is perhaps the simplest way for you to say: ‘Thank you, let’s do this again.’
But if it doesn’t feel right for you to set up an Introducer Fee, you can reciprocate in other ways. You can mindfully introduce them to prospects in your network.
You can support them in kind, too. Got access to an exclusive club that they are interested in? Get them VIP tickets to that concert they mentioned. Put in a good word for their kids to get into that elite summer camp your kids go to. I’m sure you can think of ways of extending your thanks.
Now that you’ve got my take on Introductions vs. Referrals, I’d like to hear yours: Are you sold on introductions over referrals? What has been the best way for you to get introduced to prospective clients?