Strategic Partnerships for Referrals

strategic partnerships

8-Step Strategy for Forming Strategic Partnerships that Actually Get You Clients

When you go to networking events, are you forming strategic partnerships that grow your business, acquiring new clients, or wasting your time?

On average, business owners who use networking as part of their growth strategy spend six and a half hours on it each week, but many have little or nothing to show for their efforts.

When this happens, it’s often because they don’t know how to find the right referral partners, build a relationship with them, and empower them to make referrals. If you’ve found yourself in that boat, it’s time to change that.

Stairway to forming strategic partnerships

In this blog post, you’ll receive an eight-step strategy for creating strategic partnerships that get your customers, and an opportunity to start implementing that strategy as soon as possible.

Step 1. Know exactly what kind of clients you want to find.

If you don’t know who your ideal clients are, you won’t be able to tell people who to keep an eye out for, and you can’t identify strategic partners who are in touch with those clients.

Ideally, you should have a clear description of three different types of clients:

  1. Your “bread and butter” clients, who buy your basic entry-level product.
  2. Your “cream” clients, who buy your mid-level product or package.
  3. Your “dream” clients, who buy your high-ticket offer.

When describing these clients, talk about the specific, externally visible signs that a person who’s interacting with them could notice.

For example, don’t say “He has bad mental patterns when it comes to relationships”.

Instead, say “He wants to marry a loving, mature and intelligent woman, but he keeps attracting controlling, abusive partners who belittle him and make him feel incapable and unlovable, and he can’t seem to break this pattern no matter what he tries.”

Step 2. Choose the right partnering companies.

Once you know what kind of ideal client you and your strategic partners share, look for companies that serve those customers in ways that complement your own products or services.

For instance, if you’re a wedding planner, you could partner with a clothing shop that sells wedding dresses and tuxedos, and a bakery that provides wedding cakes.

If you’re a business coach who helps entrepreneurs to build wealth without burning out, you could partner with a virtual assistant and a copywriter who specializes in marketing.

Step 3. Know how to describe your service or product to potential strategic partners.

When you approach these potential partners, it’s important that you’re able to communicate how your service will help their clients.

When you’re giving this description, don’t focus on the process you use unless they ask about it. Unless they’re familiar with your field, they might not see why that process is necessary or beneficial, so all you’ll be doing is confusing them and dampening their interest.

Instead, focus on the benefits their clients will notice in their day-to-day lives.

Here’s a template you can use to describe who you help and how:

“I help (ideal client description) to ( the action you help them take) so they can (benefit they desire).”

Following this template, a sales coach might say, “I help holistic medical practitioners who are sick of giving free consultations without getting paid to master the art of making sales, so they can make a six-figure income by doing what they love.”

Step 4. Go where your potential strategic partners are.

All the knowledge in the world won’t help you if you don’t go out and implement it.

You can get business leads at virtually any type of event, but you’ll get the best results if you go to places with high concentrations of entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their businesses, such as BNI or your local Chamber of Commerce.

Step 5. Start with service.

When you approach a potential strategic partner, don’t begin the relationship by saying “here’s who I serve and how I serve them; please send me clients”.

First, take some time to learn about their goals, needs and ideal clients, and offer a way in which you can help them grow their business.

In some cases, you’ll need to give referrals before you receive them. Fortunately, giving referrals can be almost as beneficial as getting them.

68% of people who are given a referral feel obligated to return the favor, and helping your clients to find the services they need makes you look more valuable and knowledgeable in their eyes.

This increases the likelihood that those clients will recommend you to their friends and seek your advice in the future, so making one referral can result in you receiving referrals from both your strategic partner AND the client you referred.

Step 6. Make it easy for people to continue the relationship.

Many people form strategic partnerships, promise to send each other clients, then fall out of touch and gain nothing from their efforts.

To avoid this, it’s important to have a specific and effective system for following up.

If someone doesn’t respond right away, don’t give up. Sometimes people get so busy that they have no time for non-essential emails, and emails that have been sitting in the inbox for a while are less likely to be opened than a new message is.

If you’re talking to someone in person or on the phone, it’s best to get the next conversation in your calendars before you walk away or hang up, to make sure you don’t fall out of touch.

When you’re booking these appointments, give specific and actionable instructions.

Don’t say “we should talk again sometime”. Instead, say, “I’d like to book an hour next week to discuss this with you over Skype. I’m available at 3:00 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; which day works for you?”

Step 7. Make it easy for strategic partners to send your clients.

Don’t make your referral partners try to figure out how to describe your business, or how your potential clients should get in touch with you.

Tell them exactly how to describe who you are and what you do, and what first step you want the people they refer to you to take, such as calling you on the phone, sending you an email, connecting on social media, or receiving a CC email invitation that the referrer sends to both of you.

Step 8. Be a lifelong learner.

The business world is always changing. The way your customers find and purchase services, and the way people stay in touch, are continuously evolving.

While some core principles will always stay the same, it’s important to know and implement the latest and most effective strategies.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll help you do that by featuring a two-part series of blog posts by Frederick Geiger. Frederick is a BNI area director and a certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and he will be sharing some techniques that Duct Tape Marketing teaches their marketing coaching clients on how to form strategic referral partners.

In this series, he’ll do a deep dive into how to use strategic partnership marketing to its full potential, including scripts you can use to facilitate referrals, and highly effective ways for partners to promote each other.

After Frederick gives you the nuts and bolts if some of the specifics, I will summarize how to best implement the process of establishing strategic referral partnerships in our last blog entry in October on the 27th of the month.

Be sure to check back each week to see the latest post in the series!

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

Now you know how to identify your ideal strategic partners, find them, and get them to send you clients.

Your next step is to put that knowledge into action!

In BNI, like-minded entrepreneurs come together to support each other, form strategic partnerships, and exchange referrals and knowledge to help each other’s businesses to grow.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of more customers and fellow entrepreneurs, 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!

Image Credit – Adobe Stock

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  1. […] the last few weeks, guest writer Frederick Geiger talked about how to get strategic partners, how to identify the best strategic partners for your business, and how to work with your strategic […]

  2. […] last week’s blog post, you received an eight-step process you can use to get more referral partners and encourage them to […]

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