Recently we solidified a new contract with a client whom I started talking to in 1996. Prior to the agreement, there were 62 points of contact with this client. Over the course of 5 years, 62 points of contact did require a moderate use of my time, even though many of these contacts were voice mail messages, e-mails, etc. By the way, can you imagine what would have happened if I had given up after the first couple of no’s? Nothing! As in no business! But that’s another topic for another e-report.
The time it took to secure this client will obviously pay off from the revenue received for services provided. However, if I do not at some point seek referrals from this client, then my ROI will have been drastically minimized.
There are two basic areas you should be looking at for referrals from existing customers: Uncovering new opportunities in existing accounts and gaining entry to new accounts. Many times, the only thing you have to do is just ask for the referral. People who find value in your service and products will offer new points of contact if you would only ask. Many times people don’t offer to do this on their own, but they do cooperate if they are asked.
Most of the time, when people are happy with a service and product, they like to brag about what they are doing. Furthermore, they may not realize they have certain contacts that can be of value to you.
An example is a recent visit to a client who has done business with me for 9 years. During this visit, we were at an event where he introduced me to a friend of his, a community leader, business owner and student of the sales process. Now that sounded like a lead to me. When I suggested that maybe we can arrange for a proper introduction, the client was delighted to help. Yet in the nine years prior to this event, he did not realize the potential value of this lead.
The fact of the matter is people in general are pre-occupied with their own issues. Don’t put your destiny in their hands believing they are always thinking of how they can help you grow your business. That is your responsibility! The good news is if you ask, and they like you and your products, most of the time they will be more than happy to help. But you have got to ask. If you don’t, you have limited the return of investment you can expect from the relationship.