Ep #238: Must Have Referral Strategies

There are many strategies that I teach every day because they’re the foundational strategies you need in your business. Those three foundational strategies consist of having a referable client experience, a strategy where you can generate referrals from your existing referral sources, and a strategy for turning new folks into referral sources.

But we know the one constant in life is change, and as our world evolved over the last year, there are a few referral strategies that are going to be needed in 2023 that you may have ignored in the past. So, in this episode, I will be sharing these three must have referral strategies with you.

Listen in as I discuss the importance of shifting back to more in-person events. This includes knowing how to plant networking engagement seeds, which I will describe how to do.

I also break down why referrals matter more during economic downturns and how to ensure folks are positioned to refer you versus your competition. Lastly, I will describe how to tighten up your metrics so that you can start your year off strong and finish even stronger.

Links Mentioned During the Episode:

Check out chapter 10 in Generating Business Referrals Without Asking for the language on how to answer the “How’s Business” question.   

Take advantage of our New Year Savings of the Saving Lost Referrals mini-program where I teach the Flip Scripts.  

Want to work with me to finally take control of your referrals?  Check out the group coaching experience, Building a Referable Business™

Next Episode:

Next episode is #239, and we’re going to talk about what to do if your referrals are happy accidents (because spoiler alert – they shouldn’t be).

Download The Full Episode Transcript

Read the Transcript Below:

Stacey Brown Randall: We know the one constant in life is change. And as our world evolved over the last year, there are a few referral strategies that are going to be needed in 2023, that maybe you’ve ignored in the past. Let’s get to it.

Hey there, and welcome to episode 238 of the Roadmap to Referrals Podcast, a show about helping you build a referral business. I’m your host, Stacey Brown Randall.

Did you catch that? Yep, the podcast has a new name and some new bright shiny packaging, but of course, the content, the objective, the what I am here to teach every single week, remains the same.

We just decided it was time to change the name to truly reflect the one topic I talk about the most, throughout the year, which is of course referrals. And yet it wasn’t in the name of the podcast.

So, we made the shift. I’ve been told for a while I needed to make the shift and I finally gave in. So, this is now the Roadmap to Referrals Podcast, previously known as the Roadmap To Grow Your Business. But you know what? Referrals and growth are all one and the same. That’s why we want them, is to grow our business.

So again, not much has changed, but the name of the podcast has. Hopefully, that didn’t throw you off and you’re still with us as we tackle all the things I want to teach you this year in 2023, to help you have a referral filled year.

Okay, we’re talking about the must have referral strategies for this year, for 2023. And I have three of them for you. Three must have referral strategies for this new year.

And these strategies, whereas there’s a lot of strategies I teach day in and day out because they’re the foundational strategies you need in your business, regardless of the year, regardless of the month, regardless of what’s going on in the world. And as you know, those three foundational strategies are having a referral client experience. And that is more than just doing great work.

Having a strategy where you can generate referrals from your existing referral sources. That’s our Growth By Referrals strategy where you’re getting some referrals. Now let’s grow and get you more from the people already referring you.

And then our strategy to turn new folks into referral sources. So, how do you turn clients and contacts into referral sources? So, they will start referring you. And that’s our Referring Machines strategy about taking those potential referral sources and getting them to start referring you.

Those are the three foundational strategies that I, well, to be honest, I kind of feel like I beat a drum over and over and over again, about how critical and crucial those three strategies are.

Again, they are three critical strategies that you should have operating in your business, year after year after year. If you do nothing else on 2023, but put one of those three in place, you are going to be in a such better place by the end of this year.

But there’s also things that change in our world that mean other strategies that I teach kind of come to the forefront. They kind of become more important. And that’s what I wanted to talk about in this episode. So, I’m not going to talk about those three foundational strategies. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about those more throughout the year, as I do every year.

But I really wanted to hone in on some things that I see changing in this year, just what’s happened in the world over the last couple of years and what’s happening now, as we move into 2023 and all the chitter chatter that’s going on in the world today. I wanted to provide with you some strategies that you probably — well, some of you may have used in the past and haven’t used in a while because you’ve learned them from me in the past.

Or you just kind of ignored them or didn’t know you ever needed them. But with what’s happening in our world in 2023, these are going to be important.

So, let’s dive into the first one. The first must have referral strategy I think you’re going to need for 2023 is as we have now gotten multiple years past COVID, and I think you started to see this in 2022, and it will only accelerate in 2023, is more in-person events.

We did a whole bunch of virtual stuff through 2020, 2021, and even in some cases for a lot of areas of the world in 2022. Now, I would say there are a number of folks who would say in 2022 they felt like they were finally settling back into most of their events being in-person. But this is only going to be accelerated in 2023, that we will kind of get back to that business is the new normal, that kind of saying you heard a lot like in 2021 and 2022, it’s only being accelerated around the in-person events.

So, some things I think will stay virtual and I think that’s awesome. And I think the barrier was dropped around this whole idea that you can’t do things online. And I think we learned, well nope, you can, you can throw a really cool referral source event. You can throw some really cool things; you can do a great networking event online. It can be done. You got to be a little bit better than just turning on a Zoom Room, but it can be done.

But I do think for 2023, we are shifting back to more in-person events, which means there’s a few situational strategies that I teach that are specifically script-based, that you need to know because they’re more likely to happen with in-person events than they are in virtual events or more of our online connecting. And they’re just some things that are more likely to happen when we see someone and have a conversation with them.

So, the first thing of course is, I need you to know how to plant networking engagement referral seeds. You guys have heard me talk about this before. If you’ve read my book: Generating Business Referrals Without Asking, of course I give you the exact script right there in the book. And it’s how you answer the how’s business question.

It is such a great opportunity for you to plant a referral seed. Plant that referral seed, when someone says how’s business, don’t just tell them business is awesome or fine or whatever you typically say. Because when you just say, “Oh, business is great or fine,” it’s a throwaway moment. And you’re missing out on that opportunity.

So, I think it’s important that you know when someone says, “Hey, how’s business,” which I believe that question is asked even more, with a more of a moment for that dialogue to happen at in-person events.

Don’t get me wrong, “How’s business or how’s it going?” is definitely asked when you hop onto a Zoom call. But because you’re in this Zoom or just whatever platform you use. Because you’re in this virtual environment, it’s like we’re moving through that piece faster.

But when we’re face-to-face, there’s an intentionality to having a conversation a little bit more in depth. So, it’s going to be asked, “How’s it going? How’s business? What’s up?” You’re going to get asked that question, make sure you know how to answer it.

We’ve talked about this on the podcast before. It is one of our networking engagement referral seeds, like how do you plant referral seeds when you’re in networking opportunities and how do you get engagement going? And that conversation around planting your referral seeds.

Of course, knowing there’s other things that you can certainly do, but just knowing how to answer that how’s business question is super important. And I believe it is in chapter 10 of the book Generating Business Referrals Without Asking. I know a lot of the longtime listeners of this podcast also have the book. So, you know what? You probably have read it; you probably know what I’m talking about.

But just go grab it and just go refresh. Just go refresh your memory really quick of like, “Okay, what is the house’s business response? So that I can plan a referral seed.”

The other thing I think that’s going to happen with more in-person events is for more word-of-mouth buzz to happen. So, word-of-mouth buzz of course is when you are having a conversation with somebody and they say, “Oh, by the way, I told my neighbor, my colleague, my business buddy, that they need to hire you because they’re having this issue and I told them you can solve it.”

So, of course, that is not a referral. Because they told someone that they should reach out to you, doesn’t mean they will, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a referral. Now could that word-of-mouth buzz flip itself into a referral, because that person, the prospect does reach out to you? Of course, and that’s awesome and amazing, but you don’t want to leave that to chance.

So, understanding the flip scripts of how we flip word-of-mouth buzz and also introductions and also warm leads, into referrals is important, particularly when you’re in those in-person events, knowing how to, what we call save those almost lost referrals. You need to know what to say when somebody says, “Hey, by the way, I was talking about you. I told this person they needed to hire you. I gave them your contact information, they’ll reach out.”

I need you to know what to say in that moment to your referral source, so that you can flip that into an actual referral. Because what’s missing in that is the connection isn’t there and you need to know how to make that connection happen so you can be connected with the prospect.

And there is a way to do that with some finesse and some respect. Now, of course we teach this in our little mini program called Saving Lost Referrals, which you can snag if you need. You can go ahead and grab that. We’ll put the link in the show notes page for the Saving Lost Referrals mini program. And when I say mini, it’s like, I don’t know, 50 bucks, like it is mini in terms of the investment you have to make.

But it is actually a three-module program that will walk you through understanding what word-of-mouth buzz and introduction, and a warm lead actually are versus what a referral is.

And then it’ll give you the scripts, the flip scripts for each of those of how to flip word-of-mouth buzz, warm lead or introduction into a referral. And then it actually includes a module of you watching me and somebody else role play it out. So, you can actually see how the conversation kind of flows when you’re actually communicating with a live human.

But I believe knowing how to plant referral seeds in networking moments and how to flip almost referrals, like word-of-mouth buzz into referrals are two things you’re going to run into more and more throughout the year because you’re just probably going to be attending more in-person events.

And that doesn’t mean like you’re going to the local networking group. It could just be conferences that you’re now going back to in-person. It could be that you will start looking at other opportunities.

I know like some of you are like, “Oh, I attend these weekly leads group and I’ve been doing that all along.” Those things are going back to in-person as well. And so, it could be that, it could be the local networking events.

But some of the bigger events you probably attended are probably coming back in-person as well. And those are opportunities where these things are going to happen. And I just want you to be prepared. I want you to be ready.

So, of course we will link to the Saving Loss Referrals mini program in the show notes page. It is staceybrownrandall.com/saving-lost-referrals. So, not the easiest thing to remember, if you’re driving right now or out blowing your leaves, whatever you’re doing.

So, of course we’ll put the link in the show notes for this episode, which is staceybrownrandall.com/238. And that’s for episode 238. That’s much easier to remember.

Okay, the second must have referral strategies for 2023. You knew it was coming, I didn’t make it number one because it was a downer, but you knew this one was coming. The talk about a recession and an economic downturn, it’s here, it’s upon us. You can definitely look at a lot of the reports, not maybe the media reports, because those are like overhyped up to be like the Chicken Little, the world is falling, the sky is falling.

But it’s happening and it’s going to hit in different ways. It’s going to feel different probably from any other recession we’ve been through. Because not all recessions are identical, but it’s coming and it may or may not impact you the way it impacts others.

But here’s what I want you to know about what happens during an economic downturn with referrals. Referrals matter more. Referrals matter more during an economic downturn.

So, what you need to know and understand is whose position to refer you versus your competition, who have you maintained or are starting to maintain the desire to refer you? Because when those opportunities present themselves, you want to make sure that you have the solid relationship with the referral source, so that they’re referring you and not your competition, and also, so they’re actually recognizing those moments when they can be referring you.

So, you need to focus on tightening up your relationships. Please don’t leave referrals and your referral strategy to chance this year. Please don’t do that, because in an economic downturn, in a recession, businesses still spend money. They still decide to do things different. They still decide to spend money.

But they get way more laser focused on those decisions. Let’s be honest, when things are good and money is flowing, companies will make decisions to spend money on things that they don’t vet as much as they normally would, because the money’s there. So like, “Let’s try it, let’s try this, let’s try that.”

There’s this decision. I’m not saying like businesses run around willy-nilly with their money. That’s not what I meant to imply. It just means when money is flowing and the times are good, we make decisions to invest in things, to do things.

And while we check those decisions before we make them, we also make them a little bit faster and with less due diligence than normal. But when things slow down and times get tighter or they get slower and we go to make an investment, we get really laser focused and crystal clear on if this is the right investment for us to be making in this moment. And every business owner for the most part does that.

Which means when we’re deciding that we need a new SEO firm or we’re deciding that we need a new website, or we’re deciding that we need a new CPA or attorney or whatever it is that you do, we’re really not going to leave it to chance and we will be way more focused on our due diligence. Which means we’ll probably be looking for someone to help us, to recommend to us, to help us make the decision of who we hire to recommend someone.

Because when we’re making a buying decision as a business owner (this is for any situation, but I’m talking about from a business owner perspective), there’s a couple things we don’t want to do. We don’t want to waste our money; we don’t want to make a mistake.

Well, in an economic downturn, we get laser focused on those two things. And the way to overcome that is to go off the recommendation and referral of somebody we trust, that helps us find the right solution provider for whatever problem we have, whatever issue we’re trying to solve.

So, referrals matter more during an economic downturn. So, which means you cannot leave your referrals to chance and you need to tighten up your relationships and stop ignoring the people who refer to you.

Now, in the Growth By Referral strategy, I teach a top-of-mind strategy that focuses on connection and nurturing of relationships. So, for those of you who’ve been doing that for the last couple of years, or even if you started with me in 2022 and you’re starting to do that, that is awesome because you’re already ahead of the game. You’re already making sure that your referral sources will remember you versus anyone else and you’re building that connection with them.

But those relationships cannot be left to chance because leaving those relationships to chance means you’re leaving your referrals to chance. And when I’m making the decision to invest in my business, you can bet during a recession or an economic downturn, I am turning over more stones than I typically would when business is great, when business is good, when the money is flowing and the economy is doing fabulous and we’re all just high on the fact that we’re in a high point of the economy, however you want to look at it.

So remember, make sure you have tightened up your relationship with your referral sources for this entire year. I would love for you to start it last year or the year before or five years ago, so this becomes commonplace for you. But if that’s not where you are, that’s okay, it’s not too late. But do not leave your referrals to chance.

Hey, pardon the interruption. Want to build a referable business, one strategy at a time, starting with what you need to solve the most pressing issue in your business, so you can get more referrals? Then come join the party inside our group coaching program, Building a Referable Business.

Submit your application and let’s get you joined. Here’s what one member shared when he first joined Building a Referable Business or BRB for short. John shared, “After we spoke and I joined BRB, I thought I heard the heavens open and the hallelujah chorus. I have actually been trying to find a system to make referrals work for me outside of what I’ve been doing and I’m really looking forward to engaging with you.”

Well, thank you John. So, if it’s time for you to build a referable business in 2023, then come join us in our group coaching program. Just go to staceybrownrandall.com/referable. You’ll learn all about the BRB coaching program and of course the link to apply, so you can submit your application.

Yes, there is an application because we keep BRB small, because I want to know every single business owner in the program, so that when I’m giving you feedback or advice, it is customized for your business and where you are. Again, go to staceybrownrandall.com/referable to submit your application.

Okay, back to the episode. Here’s the third must have referral strategy. Now for some of you, this might not seem like a very like tactical strategy, like I’m going to go do this, like the flip scripts. Or knowing how to plant referral seeds in those networking moments or even the tightening up of your relationships. This might not seem like a very tactical strategy.

But it is a strategy that drives what is actually possible. And so, this next must have referral strategy is, I need you to tighten up your metrics. Now you may be like, “Okay, there’s nothing sexy about that because you’re talking about metrics, numbers, data.” I know, I know, I know, I know. I kind of feel the same way too.

But the truth is the metrics really, really matter. And I want to explain to you; I want to like give you an example of why this matters so much.

So, recently I had a new member to BRB. She just joined at the very end of the year in 2022 and we got on a call. So, she was assessing if she was going to join BRB, the group coaching program. And we got on a call to talk about if it was the right fit for her and what it would look like for her.

So, just to give you some background … since she’s brand new, I’ll just protect her name and what her company name is, but she is a executive and business coach. And so, as we were walking through like what she would need to do inside of BRB, her first strategy stack, like the strategy she would first implement, and I got laser focused on exactly what that would look like before she even did her pre-work to join BRB, which doesn’t typically happen. And the reason why is because she was like laser focused, tightened with her metrics.

Literally, she was like, “Here are my metrics.” And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I know exactly where we’re going.” And it’s because she tracked this stuff or she went back and pulled this information for our call, whichever it was. Both were brilliant.

So, let me walk you through what it looked like having that conversation with her. So, the first thing is she knew how many referrals she received on average, and it was 15. She also knew that she closed 12 of them, like just looking at last year.

So, on average she gets 15 referrals. She got 15 last year too, and she closed 12 of them. Which is a really high closing ratio, just around 80% closing ratio, which is awesome. She also knew that she had nine referral sources, so nine people sending her those 15 referrals.

So, what I was able to do for her as she talked through what she wanted to improve from a referral perspective inside her business, I was able to very quickly give her, her first 90-day strategy stacks.

And so, these are the things that only come out of when someone is actually working with me. And that only happens of course, as you know, inside the group coaching program or our VIP option.

But what she knew that she needed is that she needed more referrals from her referral sources. But she needed to be able to explain to the clients that were referring her, so the clients that were referral sources and others that she actually needs them to understand that the business model is changing.

So, a lot of folks with inflation and other things or just the fact that it’s been forever since they’ve raised their rates, they may be looking to raise their rates in 2023 as this person is as well.

And so, I was like, “Hey listen, like you’ve got to have a conversation with your referral sources, particularly if they’re clients and they are grandfathered into an existing rate or they know their current rate and it’s different from the rate that new clients are going to be told.” And I was like, “That’s a conversation that you have to have with your referral sources.”

So, we talked about that and then we talked about how she also wants to improve the quality of the clients she’s receiving. She wants more referral sources and she wants to get more referrals from her existing referral sources. It was a solid four things that she wanted to accomplish.

Her strategy stack looks like this. The very first thing she’s going to learn when she comes into BRB is she’s going to go through the training to understand how to have a conversation with your referral source, that your business model is changing.

Now, not because she’s going from coaching to an online program or something like that, but because she’s raising her rates, which means anytime you’re making changes to the business model, your referral sources need to understand that, but not in the way like you’re trying to train them. They’re not dogs.

We’re not training them to understand what it ultimately looks like with this whole like, “Hey, something’s changing in my business. I’m not trying to like train you and like tell you exactly what you need to know.”

But I do want to have a conversation with them where it’s being more helpful. And more of them understanding how the model is changing. Well, we teach a strategy of exactly what that conversation should look like, that’s where she’s going to start.

Then she’ll move into Growth By Referrals where she can start getting more referrals from those nine referral sources she has. So, we want to take that average of 15 and we definitely want to try to double that to getting her 30 referrals in the year.

And then of course she’ll move into the third strategy, which will be Referring Machines and Referring Machines will show her how to add more referral sources.

So, the idea here is based on the number she wants to hit and the number of referral sources she wants to get, it is a little bit of a stretch too, she’s looking to go from an average of 15 referrals to over 50 in one year. And that is a big stretch.

And so, I had to manage some expectations in that as well. But I said, look, if you can get from those nine referral sources, you’re getting 15 now, if we can double that to get you 30 referrals in a year from your existing nine referral sources, and you can add about two dozen more new people referring you, which that’s where the stretch comes in, that’s actually the hard piece, because that’s just a strategy that takes a little bit longer to implement and get up and running. I was like, “We may be able to get you to where you want to be with over 50 referrals.”

But because she knew her numbers and she knew what her gaps were, I was able to say, “Yep, here’s what the numbers look like, here’s what you have to do to get there and here’s the strategies you have to learn.” And boom, she is like, “Done. Let’s do it.”

And so, we already know how she’s starting and she’s going to be off to the races for very referral filled 2023, is our goal as long as she does all the work.

And she didn’t know all those numbers and she didn’t know everything until she actually went through a training that I did. It’s the advanced training that I did, I did in September and December of last year, for people who are actually interested in the group coaching program, BRB and they want to understand like what actually happens inside the group coaching program, like what does that look like?

There’s a training that I do that kind of walks you through how I strategy stack, which is what I just told you, how I strategy stack inside BRB to get somebody off to a fast start, based on their highest and greatest need, based on where they’re starting from.

So, how we strategy stack, and then how we calculate what is actually possible in your business based on what you’re doing. We do all that in that training, which is one of the reasons why I love doing it live. So, I can communicate with the people who are on there live with me.

And so, because she went through that training, she applied to BRB, she went through the training and then she got down to business and she figured everything out. She got on a call with me and I was like, “Yeah, this is exactly what it’ll look like for you in terms of what you’re going to do. And then the ultimate goal is of course, to hit our objective from that.”

So, when I talk about tightening up your metrics, what I mean is know your numbers when it comes to referrals. Know how many referrals you average in a year. Typically, you get an average by three years, but if you’ve only been in business one or two years, you just use that as your average.

So, know how many referrals you typically average in a year. Know how many people are referring you right now or actively referring you and have referred you in the last two years. Know how many referral sources you have and who they are.

Understand your closing ratio. If you get 15 referrals on average. And you close seven of them, we’re looking at a 50% closing ratio, like understand your closing ratio because all that factors into what’s possible when you put my strategies into place. And helps me manage your expectations and show you what’s actually possible if you’ll put in the work.

But know your numbers, start tracking this stuff, it’s really important that you know where your business is coming from and in particular, what of your business is coming from referrals and who is actually sending you those referrals? So, tighten up your metrics.

The metrics I have, my BRB members actually track, is we track the number of referrals received, the number of referrals of those that close, the number of new referral sources we add, and of course the amount of revenue that we get from the referrals that we’ve received and closed.

So, let me say that again. So, we track this stuff and what we track is, number one, how many referrals did you receive? Like everyone’s tracking it for themselves on a like daily, weekly, monthly basis. Like whenever the stuff comes in, they’re tracking it, but what they’re compiling for me is on a quarterly basis.

So, at the end of every quarter, I’m going to want to know how many referrals did you receive this quarter? In that quarter, how many of those did you close? Though, knowing that some of those will close later on, and you’ll have to update your metrics.

So, if you received 10 referrals, how many of those 10 actually closed into paying clients? How much revenue came out of that closing number of clients? And then did you add any new people referring? Meaning, did you get a referral from somebody brand new?

Those are really important metrics for you to track. And the more you track it, the better decisions we can make on what you need to ultimately do within your business. So, that’s how I want you to be thinking about referrals.

Alright, let me give you a recap real quick of the three must have referral strategies for this year. Number one, because we’re going to be doing more in-person events, you need to know how to plant referral seeds in networking moments. And you need to know how to flip. Use the flip scripts to flip things like word-of-mouth buzz into referrals.

You also need to make sure that you are tightening up on your relationships. Very, very important. We do not want to leave our referrals to chance because referrals matter more during an economic downturn.

And of course, the third one, the third must have referral strategy is tighten up your metrics because it then informs you what direction to go and what you need to do to get more referrals this year. And that is ultimately what I want for you.

Okay, we’ve talked about a lot of stuff today. You can find everything we mentioned today on the show notes page for this episode, staceybrownrandall.com/238. That is for episode 238.

And coming up next week is episode 239, and we’re going to be talking about what to do if your referrals are happy accidents, because spoiler alert, they shouldn’t be. Until then, my friend, you know what to do. Take control and grow your business. Bye for now.

Thanks for listening to the Roadmap to Grow Your Business podcast. To access all resources and links mentioned in today’s show, and to connect with Stacey, head over to www.staceybrownrandall.com.

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  1. Love the idea of being able to read the transcript of your podcasts.
    And it would be even better if 25% of the text wasn’t cut off.
    Please fix the formatting of the text on cellphones. I have an iPhone 11pro and this shouldn’t be happening.
    Figured you didn’t know it does not format correctly.

    1. Hey there Susan. Thank you so much for letting us know. We found the problem – it was an HTML glitch with the transcription code and it is now fixed for this episode and the ones that follow. It’ll take us some time to apply the fix to the previous episodes but the team is working on it. Thank you also for being a listener (or transcript reader) of the podcast! – SBR

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