I recently ran a series of referrer management strategies training sessions for property folk in addition to the public courses for all professions. Addressing both internal and external referrers, the main themes arising were as follows:
1.Set clear aims
Rather than just seeking to increase the number of internal and external referrals, it’s necessary to analyse the current situation, agree the baselines and set clear goals for what is to be achieved in the short and long term. Those at the sessions found the visualising success exercises helpful to craft objectives for both individuals and teams.
Having short and long term goals made it easier to decide where to focus action – those referrers at the start of the pipeline or those where there is a more established relationship further along.
2. Segment your referrers
There are significant differences amongst the various referrers. Accountants, law firms, banks, other property professionals, IFAs, insolvency practitioners and other third parties have different methods of operating and different client bases. Therefore it is important to tailor your approach and proposition accordingly.
You might also take some time to grade or prioritise your referrers – ensuring that you focus most time and attention on those considered to be the most important or valuable.
3. Follow through
There was recognition that too often there was a “I met with them once” attitude and there was insufficient follow up. Taking a planned approach to relationship management – recognising that it can take time to build trust and learn about the sorts of clients and situations where referrals might be possible – was seen as a natural progression.
Social media was seen as a low commitment way to stay in touch with referrers – monitoring their posts to identify opportunities to call and liking and sharing their content to show support (see also: http://kimtasso.com/referrer-management-what-do-you-do-when-you-cant-reciprocate-work-referrals/)
There was also recognition that the follow through needs to happen once a referral has been received – saying “thanks” for the referral and keeping the referrer in the loop (as far as confidentiality allows). Closing the loop at the end of a transaction provided an opportunity to remind the referrer that a good job was done and the person or organisation they referred are happy as well as a chance to explore future collaboration.
4. Take a friendly gate-crasher
Where you are keen to expand the number of contacts between your organisation and the referring organisation, it helps to take along a colleague to informal events such as drinks receptions and seminars so that there is a chance to broaden the network.
There was even some encouragement to take a colleague along to training events for other professionals such as lawyers to provide double the messages about expertise, twice the chance of matching personalities and two points of contact at the firm.
The concepts of bow tie to diamond relationships and zippering (connecting peers at junior, middle and senior levels) support continuity and succession with critical referrers and intermediaries.
5. Harness technology
People potentially have a lot of referrers with whom they need to maintain regular contact. Technology can be used to help grade and classify your contacts so that you know where your priorities lie and also to ensure that those who you don’t see personally very often are sent your firm’s updates automatically.
Systems can also be used to remind you and prompt action when a contact has not been in touch for a while. Your very own nudge engine. Then again, some folk were just as happy with a simple table or spread sheet that shows who to contact and when.
6. Add value at every interaction
This is a mantra at all my sales training sessions. But it is equally true when nurturing a referrer relationship. Providing educational talks and presentations from clients and colleagues might be things you offer when you really want to strengthen the bond. And especially so when you are unable to reciprocate work referrals (see also: http://kimtasso.com/referrer-management-what-do-you-do-when-you-cant-reciprocate-work-referrals/
7. Offer the same to other referrers
When you are not in an exclusive relationship you may worry that other referrers may be concerned when you collaborate in a public way – through a joint blog or newsletter or by inviting speakers to your event. But if anyone grumbles, the simple solution is to offer to create a similar joint activity with them.
The delegates found the following summary helpful: Research – Recognise – Relationship – Register – Reciprocate
Details of MBL public courses on referrer management: https://www.mblseminars.com/outline?progid=5770