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Strategic Partners

strategic partners

When you meet a potential referral partner, do you know how to contact them, build the relationship, and help them send you clients?

Many people don’t, and as a result, they spend countless hours networking, meeting people, and trying to follow up with them, while getting few or no new customers in return for their efforts.

My name is Frederick Geiger, and I’m a BNI area director and certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant who uses referral marketing as my primary method of getting new customers.

In last week’s blog post, I explained how you can identify your ideal referral partners, so you can receive more referrals and make yourself more valuable to your clients by helping them find the products and services they need.

Today, I’m going to take a deep dive into one of the most vital yet overlooked parts of referral marketing: giving your strategic partners effective and easy-to-use ways to send you clients.

I’m not talking about telling them “if you meet X type of person, tell them Y about me, and instruct them to Z”. Many people use that method, but while it works to a certain extent, it won’t get you nearly as many clients as you could be getting.

Creating Strategic Partners Blueprint

I’m talking about giving your referral partners specific strategies not just to refer the clients they stumble upon, but to attract dozens of ideal clients to both of your businesses.

Step 1: Create a list of 20-30 potential strategic partners.

Once you’ve defined what kinds of strategic partners you want, your next step is to create a list of twenty to thirty of the top people you want to work with.

These should be people who:

  1. Provide excellent service and get great results.
  2. Complement your service well. A client of one of your businesses should need the other’s products or services in order to get the outcome they desire. For example, a Realtor’s house-hunter client will need a lawyer, a loan officer or mortgage broker, a moving company, and a home inspector.

No one should be on this list unless you’re serious about sending business to them.

Step 2: Use the “Perfect Introduction in Reverse” process to contact strategic partners.

Once you’ve decided who to contact, your next step is to reach out to them.

In this step, I’ve provided a special tool that’s designed to make you stand out as someone your potential strategic partners REALLY want to connect with.

This tool is called the Perfect Introduction in Reverse. Duct Tape Marketing teaches people to use it as a way to show business owners that you’re serious about making referrals to them, to recruit them into your network, and to educate them about the best ways to send referrals to you.

We have most of our clients, especially professional service providers, complete and use it as part of their referral lead generation process, so they can introduce their businesses to potential referral sources in a creative and eye-catching way.

Its effectiveness stems from the fact that instead of introducing your offer and asking people to send you their clients, you’re offering to give them referrals, which is much more appealing and gives them a more compelling reason to respond.

This is why it’s so important that no one is on your list unless you are serious about referring business to them.

Sample Introduction Letter

Here’s a sample introduction letter you can customize and send to each of your potential strategic partners:

Subject line:

What’s the best way to recommend your business to my clients?

Letter content:

Dear (their name),

It’s very likely that I have clients and contacts who could benefit from knowing what your business has to offer.

I have found that in addition to offering (a quick description of your service), one of the most valuable things I can offer my network is the confident recommendation of other resources they need. That’s why I’m sending you this letter today.

I believe, from what I have seen so far, that your company and the services you offer align with the kind of business my clients should get to know better.

To make the process of understanding your business an easy one, I have enclosed a very simple device that I have used often in my own business and with my clients. If you complete this document and send it back to me, I will be more prepared to accurately present your business to anyone in need.

Please take a moment to complete the blank form I have enclosed, adding anything else you think I should know, and return it to me at the address below. I have enclosed a sample document that I use with my referral sources to act as a guide for you.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss mutual opportunities, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at (your email address) or (your phone number).

Thanks for your help with this.

Regards,

Your name.

(End letter sample.)

Ideal Client and referral process

Along with this letter, send them a blank copy of the following ideal client and referral process profile, along with a filled-out version with your business’ information.

Here’s a sample ideal client and referral process profile for your strategic partners:

How to refer (your name):

Please complete this brief form so I can be better prepared to introduce your organization to my clients and prospects when the need arises. I appreciate you taking the time to share this information with me.

How would I spot your ideal client?

– Describe your ideal client as specifically as possible.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How would I best communicate what you do?

– Describe how you like your product or service to be explained, as well as how you are unique.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Your client referral process:

– Tell me a little about how you introduce yourself and your company to prospects I might refer.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What others are saying about your business:

– Any client testimonials you care to share with me?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This letter gives your referral partners a specific picture of your ideal client, as well as a way to easily and clearly communicate what you do. It also gives them the confidence of knowing how you work with prospects, so they know what they’re recommending.

Step 3: Keep track of phone calls and returned forms, and follow up.

Now that you’ve taken the time to research your potential referral partners and connect with them, the last thing you want is to allow that fledgling relationship to slip through the cracks and die of neglect.

Keep a list of the people you’ve contacted, and make note of when your last conversation or attempt to contact them was, as well as what was said in your message or exchange.

As long as your prospects are responsive, or at least have not said they aren’t interested, follow up weekly to give them information or schedule appointments so you can learn more about their business and help them better understand what you have to offer.

Remember, just because someone doesn’t respond immediately, that doesn’t mean they’ll never be interested.

Sometimes people get so swamped with work or emergencies that all but the most immediately vital messages end up on the back burner, and they might not respond for weeks or months.

If a message has spent a few months sliding toward the bottom of their inbox, they’re less likely to open it. But if you send them a fresh message, they’re much more likely to take a look.

Don’t just follow up with your potential and current strategic partners ‘when you get around to it’. Put your follow-ups in your calendar so you don’t forget, and whenever possible, arrange to have your appointments either in person or via video chat.

Consider joining a strong Contact Referral Group

If all of these ideas seem like a tough thing to implement, don’t be concerned.  I felt the same way. I found that one highly effective way to keep your strategic partners accountable and engaged is to invite them to be part of a strong referral group like BNI. In fact, after I first meet with my potential referral partners, my next step is to invite them to join me in a BNI meeting.

Next week, George will tell you more about how to us BNI to strengthen your referral relationships and find more referral partners.

For now, it’s time to dive into one of the most important steps of building your referral relationships: promoting each other.

Step 4: Team up with your strategic partners to get dozens of clients.

Once you’ve completed the steps outlined above, you should have a handful of potential strategic partners who are interested in telling you more about their businesses and learning more about yours.

Now, it’s time to really stand out by offering a concrete plan to attract dozens of leads and clients to both of your businesses.

Most strategic partnerships fail to produce results because neither partner takes the initiative to make promoting each other easy and logical. Often, they simply send a letter to their clients to tell them about their strategic partner, which tends to produce little or no results.

If you want to turn your partnership into a lucrative source of referrals for both of you, you need to offer an effective, prepackaged way for your strategic partners to immediately get exposure and leads while introducing you to their communities.

Here are some strategies you can use to promote your partner and help them promote you:

  1. Create opportunities for them to share their content with your community.

Invite your strategic partners to contribute to your newsletter, or to act as guests on your podcast or blog. This gives them exposure and provides you with valuable content you can share with your audience.

It’s a good practice to provide useful information to your audience on a regular basis anyway, so this is a way to get extra benefit from a strategy that every business should already be using.

You can take this method up a notch by creating a group blog that all of your partners contribute to.

  1. Create co-branded content.

Create a valuable report or ebook containing information that you know your clients strongly desire and offer it to your partners as a tool or content piece that they can co-brand and provide to their customers and prospects.

This enables them to look good by providing the useful education to their audience and puts your name in front of their customers in a helpful and enticing way.

  1. Conduct video interviews.

Another way to provide content while promoting your partner is to record a video interview with them and share that content on your website and social media channels.

In this interview, get them to share who they are, what problems they solve, and what benefits they provide, as well as some useful tips that your audience will appreciate and want to share with their friends.

This shows your partner that you mean business when it comes to promoting them, and it also provides content for your audience and incentive for your interviewee to share a video you appear in.

  1. Acquire special offers.

One way to promote your partner, make yourself look good, and give value to your audience is to get your partners to provide a special deal you can use to enhance your offer.

For example, they could get free business cards when they purchase a logo, free flowers when they make a reservation for dinner, free tickets you give away in your marketing, or a free HVAC checkup when they get plumbing work done.

  1. Go out of your way to make referrals.

One of the biggest failings in most referral partnerships is that the partners only promote each other when they happen to stumble across someone.

If you want to give and receive a consistent stream of referrals, you need to consciously look for people who need your partners instead of waiting for people to ask about services like theirs.

Make it part of your weekly routine to look through your contacts, see who might need your strategic partners’ help, and make introductions.

This is how you become a person lots of great providers want to partner with, and increase your value to your customers by consistently helping them get what they need in every aspect of their lives.

  1. Rate and review your referral partners.

If possible and practical, become a customer of each of your partners. This makes you a more authentic referral source because you know firsthand what their products or services are like, and it gives you more insight into how to describe their offer.

After your purchase, give them ratings and reviews on Yelp and other directories that are relevant to their industry, and provide a testimonial.

  1. Create events and workshops where your partners can present.

Bring your strategic partners and their clients together in a co-hosted event, and let each partner have a day when they educate everyone in the network. This enables your partners to connect with each other and promotes each of them to all the others’ clients.

Encourage all the presenters to promote the event to their audiences, so everyone gets the maximum amount of exposure possible.

You can turn the information that was shared in these events into workshops, which you then offer free of charge to their customers, either online or in person. No selling – just great information, and more exposure for you and your business.

When you take this deliberate, consistent and collaborative approach to partnering, you go from being a nice idea they may get around to someday to an irresistible marketing partner they can’t stop raving about.

Ready to get started?

Ready to form strategic partnerships that increase your income, impact, and authority in your field?

Now you know how to get referral partners excited about working with you, and to bring dozens of clients to each of your businesses.

Your next step is to start meeting strategic partners with whom you can implement these strategies!

In BNI, we focus on bringing entrepreneurs together so they can send each other clients, help each other give their customers better service, and create more income and a bigger impact on the world.

If you want to help more customers and business owners and to increase your income by thousands of dollars, we invite you to join us for our next BNI meeting.

Click here to find a BNI chapter near you!

For more information about Frederick Geiger

For more information about Duct Tape Marketing

Image Credit – Adobe Stock

 

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