5 Things Not To Do With A Referral Partner
Forming relationships with referral partners is a great way to grow your business and get new clients.
As the name implies, a “referral partner” is someone who refers clients to you.
They’re typically someone who already has a number of clients, patients or customers who would make ideal clients for you.
They serve a similar audience to you and offer something complimentary.
Examples include yoga teachers, acupuncturists, or medical doctors.
I love this strategy because with just a few solid referral partners, you can create a steady stream of new clients for your practice.
Plus, personal recommendations from referral partners are a far more trusted form of ‘marketing’ than anything else you can do. And bonus – it doesn’t have to cost a thing!
But there are a few pitfalls that I see people making when they first start trying to form relationships with potential referral partners.
There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about approaching these relationships, and I have to admit I learned this the hard way.
Avoid these 5 common mistakes and you could have a few referral partners set up in no time!
Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong referral partners
The first mistake is connecting with the wrong referral partners.
A potential referral partner may have a big audience or list of clients already, but if their audience isn’t in your niche it won’t be a good fit.
For example, if your ideal clients are in their 40s-50s, you don’t want to reach out to a yoga studio owner who attracts people in their 20s.
Your referral partners should serve the same audience as you (without directly competing with the services you provide).
Try to think of businesses and practitioners that serve your niche and you should be able to come up with a list of possible partners.
Potential referral partners might be…
- personal trainers
- pilates or yoga studio owners
- medical doctors
Mistake #2: Immediately going in for the sale
Imagine if we just met and the first thing I said to you was “will you promote my business to your clients?”
You’d probably be really turned off. You don’t even know me!
Recommending services is something that most people take pretty seriously. Making a bad referral is almost as bad for your reputation as giving bad service yourself.
Your potential partners need to know you, like you, and trust you before they start sending their clients your way. They want to know that you’ll take good care of their clients.
That’s why it’s so important to build the relationship first.
Instead of jumping in by asking for the sale, start by asking them questions about their business and getting to know them personally. Treat it like you would making a new friend.
Mistake #3: Making it all about you
Referral relationships aren’t a one way street. You shouldn’t go in with the mentality that you’re the only one with something to gain.
Good referrals are win-win, so think about how you can help each other. This could be by sending them referrals as well, or simply by filling a need that their clients have (which enhances their services, too).
Sometimes a commission rate can be agreed upon, but this isn’t necessary to make a good referral relationship. Think about how you can help one another, and get creative.
Mistake #4: Not making it easy for them to refer people to you
It’s likely that it took you some time to craft the right wording to explain what you do and how you help people. Make sure you share this information with your referral partners!
If your referral partners don’t have a good grasp on who you help, they won’t know who to recommend you to or will send you referrals that aren’t a good fit.
Start by telling them about what you specialize in and what kind of person would make a good referral. Get specific about your ideal clients so they know who to approach.
It’s also a great idea to leave them with a stack of postcards promoting your free consult. That way they’ve got all of your contact information handy to give directly to their patients or clients.
You want to make the process as easy as possible for them. They’re busy, too, after all!
Mistake #5: Not staying in touch
As I’ve shared, the most important aspect of creating a good referral partnership is focusing on the relationship. And that’s not a one-time thing.
Your work isn’t over after the initial meeting. If you don’t keep in contact, the relationship may dry up or be forgotten about.
Stay in touch by checking in a few times a year, seeing how they are doing and catching up. It also helps to send them thank you’s when they do send referrals.
Now I’d love to hear from you!
If you’ve been unsuccessful with forming referral relationships, is there anything you’d change about your process after reading this post? If you haven’t yet tried to form relationships, what are some local businesses you could reach out to?