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Ten Tips to Increase Your Business with Referrals Tip # 1
Discipline Yourself to a Routine of ‘Asking’

Here’s something profound. The reason most of us do not get referrals on a routine basis is because we do not ask for them on a routine basis. Well, it’s almost that simple. What would be the upside on your year-end W-2 if you asked for 2 referrals from each of your new customers? Let’s say you average 6 sales per month. That would be 12 referrals per month or 144 per year. Conservatively, you close half of those warm leads. Multiply 72 by your average revenue per sale. Then calculate your commission percentage off the total revenue sold. Now ask yourself if you can afford not to ask for referrals on a routine basis. Maybe you should start asking as part of your process.

Tip # 2
Develop a process to ‘Set the Stage’

Asking for a referral is one thing, but how many times do you actually get one? Execute a Powerful Routine after you sign up a new customer, and request permission for 3 additional minutes to get their professional feedback. Ask a series of questions soliciting their opinion on ways you can be more effective with your sales process, from initial contact to point of sale, with individuals in the same industry and parallel titles. You are now setting the stage for your future success. Over time, your contacts will give you a free ‘Masters Degree.’ Remember to ‘Pack your bags, but set the stage.’

Tip # 3
Communicate to a “Win-Win” Agreement

Be honest and sincere in reference to the importance of referrals for running your business effectively. Tell your story. If you have a high referral ratio let them know that and why it is high. Customers respect a good businessperson more than a good salesperson. Try to pick a time when the contact would feel comfortable giving a referral to help your business. That may not be at the point of sale, but upon service implementation or some time in the future when you have proved you delivered what you promised. The important point is you must define with the contact when it can happen or what criteria need to be met for it to happen.

Tip # 4
Follow through in order to receive a consistently high ratio of referrals.

You may not ask for a referral until (a) the service has been implemented and (b) the customer is satisfied. But as described in Tip #3 above, you want to minimally set a referral foundation at the point of sale and receive a commitment to when you’ll receive one. Now, this is very important. Always notate in your planner (old fashioned paper or high tech) in front of the contact when the expectation is set, and let them know you are making note of it. Treat it like an appointment for your future success. It’s found business and will afford you a higher closing ratio, shorter sales cycle and most importantly, more referrals! So, follow-up and get it! The money is always in the follow-up!

Tip # 5
Develop a Referral Program

Be creative. Give up some money or gift cards.  Maybe it’s a gift certificate to a local restaurant (hopefully a customer) or a graduated percent off of their next invoice. An entrepreneurial mind will come up with a few flexible programs that fit your level of buyer. After all, you’re not putting anything out until the referral is sold. The old saying, “money makes money” is still true. Beside the tax right off (be sure to check with your accountant), contacts absolutely enjoy getting a little something. Measure the ROI and the benefit will be evident.

Tip # 6
Become the Messenger

Be sure to give the referral gifts out promptly on sold referrals. Deliver it in person, since it also serves as an excellent time to prime the pump for additional referrals. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple discipline. I know of  ‘millionaires’ who reopened their black books after receiving $20 dollar gift certificates. After all, it’s not the amount… it’s all about the gesture. And because you are spending your valuable time being the messenger, you will without a doubt focus on receiving one or two more warm leads.

Tip # 7
Promote a Grass Roots Chamber Program

Offer local Chambers a deal they can not refuse. Chambers want to offer their membership a better deal, one that their members can not receive from regular street pricing. They are open to donations to help their chamber and are also motivated to grow their membership. Instead of offering a residual based off of sales, offer to bring them in a certain number of new members each month. After all, a certain percentage of businesses you call on will not be members, and if you can show them a return on their investment, they will certainly join the Chamber to receive it. By helping others you will see your referral ratio reach the sky! Be an active member of your local chamber.

Tip # 8
Identify Potential ‘Bird Dogs’

‘Bird dogs’ Joe Girard made the Bird Dog process famous, are used by hunters to point and fetch game birds for their owners.  In sales, a ‘bird dog’ is someone who has multiple relationships with your potential customers and they are motivated to routinely feed you contacts for your marketing efforts. Research potential business people that may fit into this profile, and take them out to lunch. Explain your referral program and how it could supplement their core business revenue stream. For potential ‘Big Hitters’ be prepared to customize your referral program to align with their motivations. Treat them like gold and they will open up their Address Book.

Tip # 9
‘Get Married’ to a Collaboration Partner

There are companies that provide products or services in your ‘value chain’ but do not compete directly with your product or service. (THIS IS A BIG ONE folks) Those companies and the professional individuals that sell for them should be a point of concentration for you to identify and contact for strategies of collaboration. I refer to this relationship as “Natural Marriages.” Contact 3 sales professionals that seem to indicate a ‘natural marriage’ for you and them. Outline what’s in it for them. Then ask them what you could reasonably expect over time.

Tip # 10
Join or Start a Lead Group

You have to eat lunch and or breakfast, right? So why not join or consider becoming part of a Referral Group like BNI. A BNI Chapter is full of entrepreneurial individuals who are motivated to get together weekly to share referrals . Find individuals who are accountable to bringing in the minimum amount of referrals, one per month is the suggestion of BNI’s founder Ivan Misner. Make sure every member is covered by the 80-20 rule, getting 80% of their referrals from 20% of the members. And don’t be shy about holding them accountable.

Employ these 10 tips or as many as you can as soon as you can and let me know your results. Here’s to Your Success.

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A Simple Plan for Getting More Referrals

A substantial part of your business can come (and should come) from referrals. For many businesses referrals are their main source of new business. For you, the key to making referrals happen can be summed up in three simple steps:

  • Give Referrals First
  • Provide Great Service
  • Ask for Referrals

As you provide extraordinary customer service, educate your clients and influencers to this fact. Actively seek out testimonials and share them. Contrary to what many believe, referrals don’t just happen, you must actively cultivate (ask for) referrals; otherwise you’re just leaving it to chance.

Referrals Start with Great Service

The foundation of referrals especially great referrals is great customer service. A large part of your business should be generated through referrals. Make an investment in your business and your client’s satisfaction by doing excellent work. Constantly ask for feedback and make necessary changes to become even better. As John’s (my son) Scout Leader, Frank Suski always says: “The biggest room in the world is room for improvement.”

Characteristics of a Referral Source

Understanding the characteristics of a strong referral source, allows you to spend your time with the most qualified prospects. Below are the conditions of the optimum referral source:

  • Must have a relationship with your target client
  • Must understand your target client profile – do you have one?
  • Must be educated on what you do
  • Must respect you and your company
  • Must be respected by your target client
  • Must be motivated to refer clients to you
Existing Clients

Make a plan to regularly ask for referrals and if you don’t already have one, you should create a formal referral program with your existing client base. Try sending a letter or better yet a customized card o

ut on regular basis. Make sure you’re explaining to your clients that you would rather spend your money enhancing your services than marketing for new business. Let them know that you will be asking for referrals. Send coupons or vouchers that can be distributed, business cards, and newsletters that can be forwarded. The goal is to educate and inform, the goal is to not be pushy; it’s important to be up front and tell them that if they are satisfied with your services they should recommend us.

Complimentary Vendors

With some vendors you need to be more formal about your referral arrangement. The promise of mutual reciprocation rarely works. Immediate gratification does! Remember you’re paying for th referral not the client. You reward based on the behavior of getting a referral. If you’re clear about the lifetime value of the client. Once you’re clear on

the lifetime value, then be generous with your fellow vendors when they bring in a referral. If you’re going to make a profit of $10,000 over the life of the client, consider writing a check for $1,000 to the referral-source. When you know the (lifetime) value of a client, the check shouldn’t be painful.

You may have friendships with some of these vendors but they’re also business people and should be concerned that they spend time improving their bottom line. When you propose a solid cause and effect financial arrangement, you’ll get significantly better results.

Evaluate all the businesses that are non-competitive but end up doing business with your target client. Examples of this are:

  • Cabling Companies
  • Management consultants
  • Phone Companies
  • Software Companies
  • VARs
  • Hardware Companies

Make it worth their while and put the offer in writing. It could be a major source of new prospects for you.

Seminar Participants

If you give seminars, webinars, etc., and you provide great value, this could (and should) lead to a lucrative referral pipeline. But like anything else, you must consciously cultivate the referrals. Include extra business cards or coupons in the seminar package and on your evaluation questionnaire, specifically ask if there is somebody the participant knows that could use your services or should receive a discount coupon for the next seminar. Ask and you shall receive. I read that somewhere!

Professional Services

Some of the best referral sources you have available are from those that provide your company professional services. You’re their client, so they’re naturally inclined to provide extra value. They also have a great deal of insight into the work you do and your success. Examples are:

  • Bankers
  • Leasing agents
  • Commercial real estate broker
  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
Secondary sources that could surprise you are:
  • Regular delivery people
  • Vendor contacts; office supplies, hardware, etc.
  • Cleaning services; contact the managers or owners

Cultivate and groom these sources of referrals. Behave professionally in all of your interactions with them. Keep them informed on new clients, products and services, press and so on. Supply them with business cards and actively ask for referrals.

Other Referral Sources

There are other referrals sources that may have already generated business for you without having a formal referral system in place:

  • Friends
  • Members of your church
  • Neighbors
  • Employees
  • Prospects – If they don’t buy, ask for a referral
  • Members of other organizations you’re associated with – school, political, etc.
When to Ask for Referrals

You should always be asking for referrals if you deliver a quality product or service. Consistency is important in asking. There are times when you’ll get better results than others. Here are some guidelines for when to ask for referrals:

  • After signing a contract.
  • Periodically with a letter, e.g., once a quarter
  • When successfully completing a project and your client signs the final approval.
  • When a prospect turns you down. Guilt is a beautiful thing!
  • When you’re doing a client satisfaction survey.
  • When you’re calling an inactive client.
  • When you’re calling an active client.

If you’re unclear on how to ask for a referral, here are some variations to try:

“It was a real pleasure working with you and I look forward to our next project together. In the meantime, if you know somebody that needs quality software development services, I hope that you pass on what a good experience you had with our company and have them give us a call.”

“I’m glad things are going well for you. Do you have any acquaintances that might need my company’s services?”

Keep Them Informed

You should keep the referral source informed during the early part of the new relationship with the referral they gave you. You’ll get a sense of the frequency, but at least make a call and tell the source “Thank you” for the referral. Inform them that you’ve met, started a contract and then simply ask them if they want to stay informed on their referral.

You should make it part of the process to send a letter thanking the referral source. It’s polite and prudent. If it makes sense, you can send them a credit for your services, a dinner for two or tickets to a ball game. Show your appreciation!

Motivating Referral Sources

Motivating the referral source depends on the kind of relationship you have with them. If it’s an existing client, it may be as simple as just providing stellar service and actively requesting the referral. For vendors and professional relationships, setting up a formal commission that is attractive is more effective.

And don’t forget to give referrals yourself. This is where you begin, by giving first! If you can comfortably recommend a company, you’ll build reciprocation credits and it doesn’t take a lot of effort on your part. The key is to refer only businesses that can really deliver (they’re referral ready) and then make sure you follow-up with the person you passed the referral to, to see how the relationship is going.

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Upping Your Productivity

Productivity gets people moving. Productivity is the one thing that helps us achieve goals that they have set for themselves. Experts say that to be able to succeed and live a comfortable life, everyone needs constant productivity. This is because when people aim to be productive, they become more interested and engaged in achieving their goals and dreams in life. If you want to get started increasing your productivity, here are five things to consider doing:

– always have a dream and hold on to it. Since productivity is a not always easy to start with, it would be best if you start now by having a dream that you can hold on to. The scale or the size of that dream doesn’t matter, it can be a big thing or a small thing, what’s important is the person is willing to do everything to achieve that dream. For some people, having big dreams work on them because they are looking forward to big rewards in the future that is why they are giving their best this early.

– avoid too much thinking. If possible, stop thinking at all times over something. This is because thinking would only bring in a mix of emotions that could be harder to handle and manage later on. To keep productivity constant, we must try to veer away from negative thoughts and only think of the things where he or she could something good.

– let go of the past. Experts say that the first step to be productive is to forget the failures and mistakes that you’ve had in the past. Remember to ask yourself when things don’t go the way you expect: What did I learn? and How can I grow? Learn from and grow from the past hiccup. Accept that there are things that are beyond your control, you will be able to forgive yourself and start anew. If you just keep thinking of the past, this will serve as a reminder of your failure. And if you keep thinking about your defeat, you will undergo a never ending cycle of blaming yourself for the things that you did not really opted to do.

– set your own pace. While it is true that being competitive is a key in terms of achieving goals, there would always be times when you will get tired of running after so many things because you don’t want other people to finish before you. To be able to increase productivity, it is best if you run a race at your own pace so you won’t get tired, compete with yourself. This will also be good for you because you can rest whenever you want to since nobody is breathing down your neck to finish something.

– think and take one step ahead. To be able to increase productivity, you need to plan ahead and do things ahead of time so you will be given more opportunity or chance in case the first plan did not work. Taking and thinking one step ahead are the best foundations of being productive because if you were able to develop these, it would be easier for you to take tougher and bigger problems or challenges along the way.

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Seven Stepping-Stones To Excellence

Pursuit of perfection can be likened to dancing with a pig, you probably know how the story goes, the pig gets really upset and we get very dirty. In other words, an endeavor not to be undertaken. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on building to excellence.  Striving for and achieving excellence in our work is an integral part of feeling genuinely satisfied in life.

If you want your results to grow, you have to grow, begin now (if you haven’t already,) on a journey of personal development. It’s never too late! My experience and journey in my own personal development goes back many years. More specifically, I was drawn to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and have been practicing NLP ever since, both with my clients and myself.  NLP is a study of excellence and how we use the language of the mind to consistently achieve the results we desire. Sometimes I forget this powerful tool I have.

Before we can actualize success in the physical world, we must develop the mindset for success. An empowering belief to hold is that people, yes that’s you, have all the necessary resources within themselves. Anything someone else can do, You and I can do it too, as long as we know how they do it internally in their mind and externally in their behaviors or actions. If you are going to put your effort into modeling someone, you might as well choose a model of excellence, rather than one of mediocrity.

Would you like more information on how to use NLP? Let me know by clicking here and I’ll put a little something together for you.

We all want our careers or businesses to blossom, making us financially secure and content with our achievements. Remembering the journey is important and sure to be savored and enjoyed. In the spirit of helping you build for excellence, here are seven stepping-stones that will lead to career and personal growth as well as excellence. When used as part of a total action-plan, these seven stepping-stones can contribute tremendously to the fulfillment that you desire.

  1. Make a Commitment to Excellence

    A passionate commitment to excellence is a primary step to growth in any endeavor. It is not enough to say we want to be excellent; we must make a commitment.
    Whether you are an entrepreneur, business owner, employer, or employee, commit yourself to becoming excellent in your chosen field. When you commit yourself to excellence, you will grow personally as well as professionally.

  2. Empower Yourself and Others by Continuing to Learn

    A commitment to excellence requires continuous learning. Keep your skills sharpened by reading the latest books and attending seminars, classes, or workshops. Ask for feedback from clients, customers, supervisors, co-workers and employees. Frequently assess yourself and look for key skills that need improvement.

By empowering yourself with knowledge, you will reap the rewards of continued growth and excellent performance. You will also inspire others to seek empowerment, excellence, and growth.

  1. Multiply Your Efforts through Networking

    Tell many people about the specific ways that you can help to meet their needs. For example, instead of saying, “I sell real estate,” you might say, “I help low income families find quality, affordable housing in areas where they’ve always wanted to live.” Tell people what makes your service or product special. However, keep your interactions light-hearted and spontaneous. Ask questions that show your interest in the other individual. Make your personality as well as your service memorable.

Compile a list of people with whom you want to work or do business. Attend seminars or workshops and network at every opportunity. If someone does not need your service, he or she might know someone who does. Keep a supply of business cards with you at all times. When you have built a business relationship with someone or gained a satisfied client, ask for referrals. Personal references will bring a large percentage of your business.

  1. Communicate Powerfully

    When networking or interacting with co-workers, communicate powerfully by remembering three letters: ALC. These stand for Ask-Listen-Clarify. Ask questions to determine the needs and desires of others. Listen empathetically—not only to hear, but to understand. Then clarify by rephrasing and repeating back what the other individual said. If necessary, rephrase your question and ask additional questions.

Powerful listening is the key to powerful communication. Pay attention to body language. Listen to non-verbal cues that reveal feelings behind spoken messages, and then clarify. Powerful communication will lead to continued career growth, excellence, and satisfaction.

  1. Lead with Empathy

    No matter what position you hold currently, you are always leading others through your influence. You influence others with your thoughts and actions even if you are not aware of doing so.

Think of three leaders who you admire. What traits and leadership skills do you admire the most in these leaders? This question will reveal your deepest leadership values. Leading with empathy is leading from your deepest values. These values allow you to focus on the strengths of those you lead; they allow you to lead others in ways you would want them to lead you.

  1. Maintain Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Fitness

    A healthy body helps to maintain a healthy mind and vice versa. Spiritual strength nourishes both the body and mind. Cultivating our faith in God strengthens our resolve to overcome adversities and focus on outcomes rather than roadblocks.

Follow a sound wellness program, get regular physical checkups, and pray or meditate each day. Schedule a daily time for relaxation. Physical, mental, and spiritual fitness contribute to steady growth and maximum excellence in fulfilling our individual purposes.

  1. Serve with Love, Faith, and Gratitude

    We receive in this life only that which we first give. That includes our thoughts and attitudes. Fill your thoughts with the spirit of love for those you serve. Communicate your deepest gratitude to customers and clients for their trust in you. Show gratitude in special ways that provide more value than expected.

Trust clients and customers to make decisions that are right for them. If you have faith in those you serve, they will have faith in you.

Take this Challenge Now!

Make a list of at least twelve different ways you could implement each of these stepping-stones during the next 12 months. Select seven items, one item from each list of twelve. Then put them into action over the next week.

Continue to implement more of your ideas throughout the coming months. Refer back to your list frequently, and write down the changes that you see taking place. You will see positive changes both personally and professionally.

In Summary

Career growth and excellence contribute significantly to life satisfaction. They require acting with commitment and integrity. We need to set our standards high (they create our expectations) and continually acquire new knowledge to grow and perform with excellence. People are essential to success, and we must listen deeply to communicate powerfully. Leading others from our deepest values allows us to lead with empathy.

Growth requires physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Love, faith, and gratitude will provide an integral framework for career growth and excellence. Taking deliberate action to excel and grow today will set the process in motion and bring rewarding results throughout the future.

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Your Growing Edge

You’ve probably heard the term “leading edge” used to refer to technology, products or ideas and concepts that are in front of the curve, that are really advanced. You may have even heard the term “bleeding edge” in this context. I want to talk to you about your personal “leading edge,” your growing edge!

Your growing edge is that area of your life where there’s still a lot of room for improvement but you’re pushing ahead and stretching the margins of that area every day. For some this is productivity in business, for others it’s personal balance, for still others it’s family time and quality of interaction.

You might be thinking… How do you find your growing edge and what do you do about it once you’ve identified it?

First, finding your growing edge. This is probably easier than you might expect. It’s a simple matter of looking at your life over the last few months or year and seeing what challenges you keep bumping up against. For me, it’s writing things down in my planner. I don’t always have my planner out and things and ideas come up. Over the few months I’ve struggled with this repeatedly, each time working to pull out my planner or already have it out and convenient, but then falling back into my old patterns. The important point is that I am growing in this area. You may have an area like this, too. You’re challenged by it, you make some changes, you retreat from these changes, and you make the changes again.

So what do you do with this “growing edge”? Exactly what you’ve been doing, only more so. If you’ve been building a new habit and then letting it go in times of stress, which is what most people do, then you need to develop new stress habits. It’s easy to do the right thing during calm, peaceful times in your life, as if any of us really have those. It’s harder when the real stress starts. So what you need to do is develop a list of things you can do during a stressful time to keep your new habit going. For me, a real problem when I’m really busy is remembering to pull my planner out so it’s accessible. My way of turning this “have it available” into a habit is to make it part of my daily routine. I make sure it’s out and within eye-sight in the evening and because of that, it’s out in the morning when I start my day.

The bottom line on this is that action leads to solutions. Make a list of actions you can take to keep your growing edge growing, even when you don’t feel like it, and keep taking those actions. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing.

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