I hate to break this to you, but you are just one person. And because of this reality, there is a limit to how much sales activity you can physically do. So how can you overcome this limitation and bring in more sales? Well, you can always bring on more salespeople, or you can create a network that essentially prospects for you.
Referral networks are nothing new in sales, but the staffing industry has never embraced this concept the way that other industries have. Referral networks can be formal or informal. A formal program typically includes a referral agreement, as well as some sort of financial incentive. Informal referrals are just that - you trade referrals with another sales person without any formal agreement.
So how do you create a referral network that actually works? Here are a few steps to get you started:
1. Identify other sales people that target the same prospects - Attend networking events, trade shows, and other events where your prospects go. Then look for sales people that are in different industries, yet also sell to your prospects.
2. Evaluate their product/service - Make sure that you properly vet any potential referralpartner. These are people that you could refer to your clients, so you want to make surethat you are associated with quality organizations and sales people.
3. Develop relationships- This is a critical, and often overlooked stage. I have companies and sales people regularly ask me to become referral partners, but few take the time or effort to build my trust in them and their service or product. Make the effort to build a lasting relationship and you'll be rewarded many times over
4. Start providing referrals- The best way to receive referrals is to give referrals. Look for opportunities to help your clients by introducing them to your referral partners. Once your partners see the value of their relationship with you, they'll begin to reciprocate.
There are several benefits to getting referrals. One, you already enter the discussion with a level of credibility. That ultimately puts you in a stronger negotiating position and reduces the possibility of competing on price. Two, because you are being referred by someone the prospect presumably trust, it significantly increases your chances of landing the deal. And three, you are building a network of service providers that can benefit your clients, which creates more value for the client and elevates your status from vendor to trusted partner.
Referral networks require a significant investment, but if done properly they can pay great dividends for years to come.