What’s a Referral Plan and Why You Need One

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April 30, 2017
What’s a Referral Program and Why You Need One
May 15, 2017

What’s a Referral Plan and Why You Need One

<<Part One>>

Connecting with like-minded professionals who service a customer base similar to yours for the purpose of mutual referrals can be very beneficial to the growth of your business. When a prospect comes to you via a referral, that person is immediately more qualified than someone who comes to you through any other form of advertising.

A typical relationship with a new customer progresses through the sales funnel, like this:

  • KNOW
  • LIKE
  • TRUST
  • TRY
  • BUY
  • REPEAT
  • REFER

In the early stages of the sales funnel, you take your prospect through the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST phases. The kitchen design business has a LONG sales cycle (as if we have to tell you). You may be moving in the direction of a sale, but you must be patient and encourage prospects to get them into BUY mode.

The more complex the sale, and the higher the price tag, and the longer the sales cycle, the longer getting to BUY will take.

A referral lead is ideal because this prospect has already moved through the KNOW-LIKE-TRUST phase because they KNOW-LIKE-TRUST the person who referred them to you.

In addition, a lead from a referral comes to you

  • pre-qualified by someone who knows you and what you do;
  • pre-disposed to trust you because they trust someone who trusts you; and
  • prepared to hire you because they’ve got a problem they need you to solve.

Ideal Referral Partner

Find the idea of networking with Referral Partners intriguing? Read on.

When thinking about who to approach about becoming a Referral Partner? Ask yourself:

  • What kinds of customers does this potential Referral Partner serve?
  • How many of these customers match my ideal customer profile?
  • What kind of business is likely to be able to send referrals to me?
  • What kind of business am I likely to be able to send referrals to?

For example, you’re an insurance agent, making a call on someone whose home has been damaged. Can you refer a roofer to these homeowners? A plumber? An attorney? You can if you’ve cultivated some ideal Referral Partners.

How about you as kitchen designer. Can you recommend a banker to a homeowner looking to remodel their kitchen? An attorney? An architect? An interior designer? A tile studio? Lighting gallery? Flooring store? Electrician?

Think of the many parts that go into creating a new kitchen. Wouldn’t you rather work with suppliers you know and trust, rather than waiting for your new client to go out and find them for herself?

You’re probably asking: how many Referral Partners should I have? Truly, there’s no limit, but it’s probably smart to have more than one in each business category you’ll be sending referrals to.

Getting Started 

We know you have a business plan and a marketing plan. But do you have a plan to encourage referrals? Probably not.

When working with Kitchen Design Partner (KDP) to outline your Referral Plan, use the KISS principle as your guideline.  Keep it simple.

A good place to start is develop a profile of your ideal customer because you and your Referral Partner must provide services to the same customer base.

As a customer of KDP, you already created an outline of your ideal customer when you completed your Marketing Kit questionnaire. But just in case you want to re-visit your ideal customer’s characteristics, here’s a check list:

  • Demographics. Age, income, number of children, etc.
  • Location: What areas do you target
  • How much do your services cost
  • What level of income do your ideal customers need to have to pay for your services.

Cost is certainly one of the most important, if not the most important, determining factors. A new kitchen or remodel job is expensive. You don’t want someone who doesn’t have the budget for a new kitchen coming to you all excited, only to discover they can’t afford the beautiful space you’re proposing.

Your Referral Partner must understand your work is high end and high cost. Of course, if you know this Referral Partner at all and if he, in turn, knows you, they are probably in the same price range. Architects, custom home builders, interior designers, tile studios, lighting galleries, custom millwork houses, all seek the “ideal customer” who can afford what they’re selling.

 Your Action Plans

Successful referral programs require planning. Together with KDP, you’ll map out an Action Plan that not only gets you going, but keeps you on the right track.

First is the Master Strategy Plan, the one that creates the big picture, the view from 30,000 feet.

Components of your master strategy plan.

  • What’s in it for everyone? It has to be a win for your Referral Partner, a win for the customer, and a win for you. What does a win look like for all three players?
  • Why would people refer you? What makes your services worthy of referral?
  • Who do you want referred to you? Here’s where the ideal customer profile comes into play.

Next comes the monthly Plan of Action, a check list of steps used to see how much progress you’ve made and how much further you have to go.

  • What do you have to do to meet your goal?
  • When will you do it?
  • Who will you contact?
  • How will you identify and contact these people?
  • What will you offer them?
  • How often will you do this?

At six months, you will measure the success of your program with KDP, by comparing your results with the strategy and tactics outlined in your plans.

 Remember the saying: Plan to work and work the plan.

Next Steps

We can hear you: “This is all interesting, but how do we get to the good stuff? I’ve thought about who would make a good Referral Partner and why and I’ve profiled my ideal customer. I’ve worked with KDP to create my Master Strategy and my Plan of Action. Let’s get started!”

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In Part Two of this two part series on Referral Programs, we’ll get you on the path to connecting with your Referral Partners and working the program to get more leads and ultimately more sales.