7 Beliefs That Kill B2B Referrals

Early March, Brandee Barker wrote a piece about turning your company into a finely tuned b2b referral machine with every employee enthusiastically spreading the word that “you are always looking for a few new clients.”  Today, I’d like to talk about some of the lessons we’ve learned in helping Dynamics partners execute this strikingly effective marketing program.

It became apparent a number of years ago that partners, on average, do great work in putting in complex business systems under very stressful circumstances and happy customers were more than willing to pass the word.  Almost all of these b2b referrals (up to 50% of all new closed business) were generated without any additional effort from the partner.  The downside was that many partners where exhibiting behaviors that were “anti-referral” and thus reduced the potential for attracting new business.

Here are the top 7 things we have found partners consistently do or believe that prevent a higher percentage of b2b referrals business from being generated by their loyal client base.

#1 – You Assume You Have Mindshare

Since you did great work at the client’s site, you assume the client will recommend you to their contacts or colleagues without any additional effort on your part.  The trouble with this belief is that your clients are just as busy as you are and most will forget about your work in a very short period of time.  It’s all about frequency of the reminder.  Each of your employees should be asking throughout your client’s organization and throughout the year for referrals.  Consider them human “fridge magnets” that keep your company top of mind.

#2 – It’s The Job of Sales

Most employees don’t think it is part of their job to market on behalf of the firm.  There are a lot of reasons why this is believed, none of them are valid.  It’s everyone’s job.

#3 – You Believe You Only Have to Ask Once

Asking can be hard and often comes with a fear of rejection.  It is neither difficult nor is there much chance of being rejected.  Remember that mindshare is important and the message needs to be delivered at a reasonable frequency to be effective.

#4 – We’re Too Busy Now

A lot of us put out the message, either consciously or not, that we are too busy.  We are always in a hurry and the stress levels are high.  As a result, most of our clients think we don’t need the work.  Some clients will get protective of your services thinking that if you get a new client there will be less time for them!  Stop acting so busy and let your clients know, there’s always room for one more great client like them.

#5 – It’s Not Part of Everyday Business

This reason is related to #2.  Most of our employees haven’t been asked to do this type of work and have therefore not incorporated it into their daily activities.  Now’s a good time to change that behavior!

#6 – But I Don’t Know How to Ask

Either the timing was wrong or I just don’t know what to say, are common phrases used by consultants that can’t seem to get the words out.  Don’t sweat it.  This is normal.  Create your own words, find the right people to ask and the rest will happen.  Practice with someone else and make it a habit.

#7 – It’s Scary

Most of us fear rejection.  This is completely understandable.  What is worth noting here is that when we ask for a referral, we shouldn’t be expecting an immediate answer.  Great if it happens, but your primary job is to make the “ask” and pass the message that we are open for business.  You are the human fridge magnet.  Keep it as simple as that and the results will happen.

PARTNERWORKS has rolled out a program designed entirely for Partners to turn their businesses into a referral engine. Learn more about what the Referral Program can do for your business: http://www.partnerworks.co/store/sales-referral-program-kit/

About the Author

Ross Allen

Ross Allen’s expertise at PARTNERWORKS is to ensure that all businesses adapt and maintain a consistent approach to managing their businesses, and selling and delivering ERP and CRM projects. His extensive experience in systems analysis and sales process engineering enable him to rapidly develop and execute flexible technology implementations.