R is for Referrals, Part 2: WIIFM?

Everybody wants referrals, not everybody is clear on what to do in return for them. On the flip side, the person referring may being doing so out the goodness of their heart, and they're probably also wondering how you'll respond. As in, will you make it worth their while to have gone out of their way for you? Assume your generous referrer is tuned into WII-FM ... what's in it, for me? and reward them accordingly.

I can hear the attorneys and financial services people already: we are limited in our ability to reward good referral behavior. I guess it's time to get creative, now isn't it?

Here are a some ways to reward those who put money in your pocket:
  1. Give them a piece of the action. For all but one of my offerings, I give 50% of the first month's fees. I would rather have 50% of a watermelon than 100% of a grape, and big checks just seem to get attention. If you're in a position to give cash, cash is king so it will make an impression and perhaps even incite more referrals. I recommend at least 10% of your profit margin, if you're in a cash position to do so.
  2. If you can't give cash, give a gift card at the very top of the limit of what you can do. Even if that's a $25 Starbucks gift card, who wouldn't think that's fantastic? Or give a $100 or $1000 AMEX gift card, because they are good anywhere. It even gives you an excuse an follow-up and see what they bought.
  3. Give them referrals, too. Find out their Ideal Client Profile and spend time finding them some ideal clients. I spend at least an hour a week going through my contact list in an effort to make quality introductions.
  4. Pay attention. At a breakfast I attended this week, one of the gentlemen said his company participates in "mandatory retirement," which means by the end of 2011, he'll be looking for a new opportunity. Listen to what people say, because sometimes they drop subtle hints you can pick up on and run with that will make all the difference to them (even more, sometimes, than a referral).
  5. Send them something that says you're paying attention. Do they collect elephant figurines or Christian Louboutin shoes? Are they learning a new language, traveling to a new city or experiencing a life challenge? A small gift that means you were present with them, along with a note, will make a great impression and is a great way to show appreciation.
  6. Promote them when you have the opportunity to do so. Can they give a presentation to your Rotary, monthly association meeting or industry events? Do they write a blog you can forward to your contacts? If you're up on social media, give 'em a tweet or post their latest happenings on your facebook.
  7. Take them to lunch with some other people who could use their products or services. Four to six people make an interesting opportunity for deeper relationships, the discovering of opportunities and shows that you're willing to give your most valuable asset (your time) to help.
  8. Ask how you can help. Sometimes, what they need isn't new business, it's something else. Everyone needs something right now, and if you deliver that, you're a rock star in their eyes.
  9. At the very least, say thank you. In writing. Immediately.
 Take time to decide how you're going to reward the very next referral that comes through the door and then execute that plan. You'll be glad you did!

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