4 Critical Steps To Getting Referrals

The 4 critical steps to getting referrals

Last week I started the conversation about using referral partners to grow your business.

If done well, this can be a business-changing experience.

I’ve seen clients of mine end up filling their practice – or getting a steady stream of clients – from 1 or 2 strong referral partners. (If you missed last week’s post you can read it here.)

But what happens once you have a relationship with a referral partner? What’s the best way to GET referrals from them?

There are 4 critical steps involved in getting referrals, but I often see coaches skipping one or more of these.

I want you to create connections with partners that lead to you signing on more clients. So today I’m going to map out this simple 4-step process.

Let’s dig in!

There are 4 critical steps coaches need to make to get referrals and referral partners

 
Step 1: Focus on building the relationship first

When you’re looking for referrals you want to focus on the other person FIRST and build the relationship.

The relationship is what will get you the referral – not just the awareness that your services exist.

This is a huge missing piece for so many coaches. One point I want to emphasize is that you want give value FIRST before asking for, or expecting, referrals.

So, focus on what’s in it for them…Ask yourself the question, “How can I create value for THEM?”

Focus on how you can help make the referral partner’s job EASIER.

Let’s use doctors as an example…

Most doctors have a list of patients they see, many of whom need help losing weight and changing their eating habits. But doctors don’t necessarily have the time and, in some cases, don’t have the training, to speak in detail with their patients about nutrition.

You can connect with local doctors who see the types of patients you’d like to work with. Get to know them and ask them how much they help patients with upgrading their food. Find out if this is something their patients have questions about. And, find out if the doctor recognizes that there’s a need for more support for patients in this area.

Echo back what you hear from the doctor, and say something like, “I know you’re busy, and you probably don’t have time to talk to your patients about nutrition…here’s something I have that may help.”

Doctors are often telling their patients things like “You should really try to eat better and exercise” but they don’t have the time to speak with their patients in detail about this.

This is where your solution would be perfect – to make the doctor’s life easier.

Let’s take a look at personal trainers and fitness studios as another example…

In this case, you may meet trainers or fitness studio owners who are great at what they do, but aren’t able to fully help their clients get the results they want because they don’t teach about food and nutrition.

Their clients likely have a lot of questions about nutrition and this is where you can come in to help the referral partner.

Remember, focus on what’s in it for THEM.

Step 2: Get more referrals by creating raving fans

One of the MOST effective ways to get referrals from your partners is to turn them into a raving fan.

When forming a relationship with a potential referral partner, having THEM or someone in their circle experience working with you can go a LONG way.

Let me give you an example…

Imagine that you met an interior decorator who wanted you to refer people to them. You might think the person was nice and want to help them out, but if you didn’t know anything about them or hadn’t seen their work, it would difficult to refer people to them. And even if you did refer someone to them, you wouldn’t be able to say more than “I met an interior decorator recently. You should check her out.”

But what if the interior decorator offered to come to your home and help you with one room of your choosing?

If you LOVED how the decorator helped you transform the room, you’d want to tell everyone about her, wouldn’t you?

I’m not usually a fan of offering your services for free, but it can be a powerful relationship-builder.

It doesn’t have to the referral partner that samples your services. It certainly can be, but if they don’t have time or don’t feel like they need your help, it can be someone who works in their office, a significant other, or one of their customers or patients.

You can say… “I’d love to demonstrate my skills and earn your respect by working with you or someone in your circle gratis and help them achieve some goals. Here’s what it would look like…”

And then you’d explain what it would look like.

It would be WELL worth donating some of your time and effort, if it ended up creating a raving fan, wouldn’t it?

Step 3: Create a promotional plan with your referral partners

What about once you have a relationship with a referral partner. What’s the best way to GET referrals from them?

You don’t simply want to form a relationship and then just hope for the best.

Have a conversation with the referral partner where you discuss how they’d like to share your information. Go into the conversation with ideas in mind of how you’d like them to promote you. Make suggestions and feel out what they’re open to.

Here are some effective promotional strategies…

One powerful strategy is to create a postcard – similar to a business card – that promotes an offer for a free or reduced cost initial consultation. You might call this a “Nutrition Strategy Session” or a “Weight Loss Strategy Session”.

You can give those cards to your referral partner so they can personally hand them to people they want to refer. Having them hand the cards to people personally, and having them share a few words about you is much more effective than just leaving a stack of business cards or flyers.

You can also use referral partners to spread the word about group programs that you offer – such as cleanses. In this case, I recommend providing the referral partner with flyers or postcards they can personally hand out – as well as leaving and posting some prominently in their office.

When it comes to asking a referral partner to promote a group program, it’s ideal if your referral partner is willing to email their list (if they have one) about your program. Make it easy for your referral partner by providing pre-written copy for the emails. Then they can make any edits they’d like and send it out.

If your referral partner has the space and a large enough client/patient-base, giving a talk at their venue is also an amazingly effective approach.

If you can combine these approaches, you’re likely to see even better results! This isn’t something that happens overnight, but as the relationship grows, you can try out different strategies and see what works the best and what the partner is most open to.

Step 4: Continue to deepen the relationship

Once you’ve established a relationship with a partner and they’re promoting you in some way, you’ll want to deepen the relationship.

When you receive a referral, send a hand written note to the partner with a small gift. (The personal touch goes a long way.)

Follow-up with the partner occasionally to check-in and ask how they are and if there’s anything you can do to support them. When appropriate, be sure to share their information with your clients, audience, and inner circle of friends and family.

 
Now I’d love to hear from you!
Have you received referrals from partners? What was the most effective way of getting referrals? How did the partner promote you? As always, post your questions so I can support you!

9 Responses to 4 Critical Steps To Getting Referrals

  1. SHELLY says:

    effective promotional strategies- What’s the best one you’ve seen out there? Any examples to note?

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Shelly – It really depends on the referral partner. If you see in Step 3, in the post, I share a few strategies. If your referral partner is a doctor or personal trainer (someone who sees clients/patients 1:1), then having them say to their client/patient “I want to refer you to Shelly – she can help you with x, y, and z, and I recommend her because…” and then having them hand that postcard to those people is VERY powerful. If your referral partner is a yoga studio owner, then giving a talk and having them send emails and post flyers is a great approach.

  2. Donnie says:

    What is a good referral gift reward? I like to repay them somehow, but is money too tacky? How about a Amazon gift card? Thanks!

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Great question Donnie! This depends on the person. If it’s someone who is very established and doing great with their business, then a gift or gift card is great. If it someone who isn’t as far along in their business or has a smaller business, then giving a check or sending money through PayPal is a great way to go. I’d feel out what feels right to you.

      • Edie Chevalier says:

        I would be careful about gifts in the medical arena! I am a nurse and health coach and there are rules about the ethics of giving money or gifts for recognition/referrals. As long as it’s a very small amount it may not be frowned on but I personally would stick to a hand written thank you.

  3. Tanuja says:

    Great article and good reminder that it’s all about relationship building first.

    What do you suggest for new practitioners with limited client list, as they would not have numbers on their side to refer back? What is a good way to approach in such a situation?

    thanks!

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Glad you found this helpful Tanuja. Remember that everyone starts with a small client list. What’s important is the value you offer with your services. I wouldn’t even address your small client base when speaking to referral partners. I would focus on having them (or someone in their circle) EXPERIENCE the power of working with you.

  4. Emma says:

    Thanks for this – great tips. I’m a yoga teacher but some food for thought on how I could use referral partners too .

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