Say what? Yeah. Now…let me be clear. I’m not saying that you should ignore your customer or not deliver on the services you promised. You need to over deliver…FULL STOP!
However, what I see most often in the work that I do with service based business professionals is that they are often focused on their customers for referrals. Furthermore, when they attend an event of any kind, they tell folks who their ideal customer is.
This truly is a failing strategy. Customers really only refer 1-3 new customers over a lifetime, in my experience. However partners refer more often.
This is why you need to really understand who your ideal referral source is! Who is in a position to refer you on a regular basis, and are you meeting them, speaking with them, and building a long term relationship with them, on a regular basis?
If you doubt this strategy for a moment, I’d ask you to try a simple test. Walk up to the next person you know who is a customer, or even a friend, and ask them for 3 names of people who could use your service. What I suspect you will find is that this person will likely not be able to give you 3 people, they will feel uncomfortable that you asked, and if they do give you any names, they are most likely leads and not referrals. I also suspect that this person would be less likely to refer you in the future.
However, if you approached the same person and asked them to introduce you to someone that you would not be selling to, they would likely know someone and introduce you. This is the approach that you take when building out your partner program.
Making sales and getting referrals is hard. It takes time and a lot of trust over time to ensure that people are comfortable recommending you to their contacts. Give them the appropriate time, and care, and you will get more referrals. However, if you focus on getting your clients to give you referrals, you’ll get far less over time than you would from your partners.