Are you successfully leveraging your network for new business leads?  Getting referrals from other professionals in your field, current customers and friends is one of the best ways to build your sales channel.

If you aren’t getting the quantity and quality of referrals from your network, maybe you aren’t asking often enough? It also may be that your network doesn’t understand who makes a great potential customer for you.  If they don’t; you need to educate them.

Educating your network is not the same thing as selling them about your products and services. Your network needs to understand what your company brings to the table; but your goal isn’t to turn your contacts into sales prospects. Your goal is educate them about the type of referrals you want.

Here’s what you need to do to make your referral network a viable marketing arm:

Clarify what you do that is of value: Convey what you do as a benefit or a solution.  For example,  you’re not only a general contractor; you’re a general contractor that works with homeowners to enhance the value of their property. Then explain to your referral network how you do this in specifics to paint a picture in their minds. Be memorable and associate your business with tangible results. You also can use case studies of your work  with other customers to illustrate how your company provides value.

You can use Bump for sharing contact information (image from company website)

Identify your target referral: “Anyone” and “everyone” is not a target market. Your referral network needs to understand the type of referrals that are best for your business. If you are a CPA firm that has a specialty working with medium-sized companies looking for an exit strategy; make that clear. By defining your target, you’ll find you get higher quality referrals.

(Make sure that you can communicate the above concisely in 30 seconds or less or what is commonly referred to as “an elevator pitch.”)

Explain how you plan to use the referral: Make your network confident that you respect their relationships. Explain how you handle referrals in terms of a call or email introduction and what your follow-up procedure is.

Give them a reason to refer you:  Suggest to your referral network that they are doing a favor for their associates, friends or even family members by referring your company when there is an appropriate need. Also they can boost their standing among their own network by being a resource for reliable referrals.

Present your company and your case for referrals to your network. You’ll find that most people will be happy to help if they understand what you do and how you distinguish yourself.