Sunday, April 18, 2010

"A Professional" or "My Professional"

Recently a member of my business contact sphere asked me which carries more weight when passing a referral, saying "My Professional Service Provider" or saying "A Professional Service Provider". This is a great question, which makes me think of the Truth or Delusion (by Dr. Ivan Misner and Mike Macedonio) statement, "Your best sources of referrals are your customers: Truth or Delusion?"

Dr. Ivan Misner says, “With a well-developed referral network, you can realize more good referrals from one or two professional referral sources than from all your customers – combined.”

So, while my contact sphere professional service provider could see some short term benefit from me as a client - he could realize more good referrals if he treated me as a professional referral source. Better yet, if he could develop strong relationships with a few of the right referral sources - he could find more referrals than from all of his clients - combined. I'm not his ideal client, I'm not in the scope of his laser fine target market. Could I use his services? Probably. Would it be a lot of time for a little gain on his part? Probably.

I have a real estate agent, a higher education consultant, and a car salesman in my immediate contact sphere. I know them and trust them and I have referred my friends, family, and clients to them - even though I haven't had a chance to use their services. I may not use their services myself for a long while - but that doesn't mean I can't refer them. I have to get to know them and I have to get to trust them. Some ways that we have done this:
  • Show up prepared for each BNI meeting, training, and 1-to-1
  • Show up on-time for every event
  • Call if they said they were going to call
  • Provide some positive testimonials from happy clients
  • Show general interest in people
  • Pass referrals to other members of our contact sphere
  • Listen
  • Train me to learn exactly what to look for in an ideal client
  • Follow-up on the referrals that they receive
  • Provide the quality of services at the prices they have quoted
  • Be Truthful
  • Display a positive and supportive attitude
  • Build goodwill and trust
  • Do a GAINS exchange
Referral Sources can do all of these things without ever having me as a direct client. If they do most of these things, and I'm in front of the clients they'd like to meet, then I'm very likely to refer their expertise. If I have a positive third party testimonial for this service provider - one that they supplied to me - then I can use that when I refer people to them.

They can be "A" professional without being "my" professional and still carry a lot of positive weight with me and the people I refer my referral sources to.

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