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— by Michael J. Maher

Transform Clients Into Ambassadors

When I consult with CEOs and business owners the most common question I get is, “How do we transition to become a referral-based business?”
In the beginning, the company’s and CEO’s efforts were geared toward acquiring a customer base. Now they have clientele who likes them, respects them, and trusts them but doesn’t refer them. How do we transition?
First and foremost, it isn’t a transition. It’s a transformation. Running a referral-based business doesn’t mean giving up your sales team. It means adding unpaid sales people to your sales team – Ambassadors. Your clients transform throughout the buying process and become a part of your sales team speaking highly of you and referring you willingly. Like Apple. Like Nordstrom’s.

Here are three quick hits to help you:

Ask and Ye Shall Repel!

Asking for referrals can be one of the most repelling and repulsive acts a salesperson can do. If you’ve ever had someone ask you for referrals, you know that creepy, awkward feeling. Then there is the guy who brings your LinkedIn Connections list to the meeting… no… just no. The best time to discuss Referrals is when someone asks how they can help you or when they offer to do something for you. Referrals are an Answer, not a Question. How can you deliver so much value to your clientele that they ask YOU how THEY can help YOU? It’s easier than you think and doesn’t have to cost you a dime.

Don’t Reward. Appreciate!

Referral Reward Programs are the easy solution many consultants suggest. The problems: they can be difficult to manage and track, they are an expense, and most problematic, they don’t increase the behavior you desire long-term. You don’t want to monetize a relationship with someone who will passionately and freely champion you and your services. You’ve taken a relationship based on like, respect, and trust and replaced it with a monetary relationship. People don’t refer you to make a buck or two. They refer you to help a friend, to look good, and to support a business they trust. Here’s the other side of Referral Reward Programs: What would you think if you found your friend was paid to recommend the company to which you were just referred? Referral sources simply want to be appreciated. What are some ways you can express your appreciation without monetizing the relationship?

Focus on the Vital Few. Not everybody will refer you.

There are clients within your database who are pre-destined and pre-supposed to referring you – and there are others who will never, ever refer you no matter what you do. We have developed an Ambassador Score (or A-Score) system that determines the likelihood of a person referring you and your company. In many cases, a database of 15,000 can be whittled down to a mere 150 people who receive the focus of your most valuable resources – your time, energy, effort, and money. Who are your Top 150 Ambassadors?
Learn more from Michael on his Coaching Profile! Exclusive to LCA Members. 
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