Referrals should be second nature in business
As a businessman or woman, one of the most powerful tools you can utilize is not the latest and greatest in technological advancements, an impressive client portfolio, nor a booming social media presence despite what all the books and gurus tout. It is as simple as the question at the tip of your tongue. No matter what business you are in, have you ever considered what other business opportunities you can create for yourself by asking more questions? If you have your client’s attention, you’ve already won a major battle. And with that attention, you can develop more business from referrals that could lead to more dollars in your pocket.
As salespeople, we are always focused on our services and products. We forget that we can also earn income through referrals or use them to develop important relationships that could lead to new direct business.
Take myself for example. As a commercial real estate broker, I service the Reno-Sparks-Carson City area, and what if, in the course of my conversation with a client, I also ask, “Do you have business in other markets that I can help you with?” Could this simple question help develop a referral that ultimately leads to more business?
You may ask your client “Do you need an architect? Moving company? Attorney? Contractor?” All of these additional services that are required in a move or in a property sale have an additional vendor that is involved. By asking more questions, you can develop more referral business. It’s not only simple but it’s free.
Entering the referral business has its crossroads though.
First, you must decide if implementing referral fees is the right step for you, or you may just simply pass these leads on for free in hopes of developing stronger vendor relationships that will pan out for you later down the road. Key questions to ask yourself are if these vendors could be a mutual referral source to you — or if they’ll remember you at all later on.
Second, you will need to develop your preferred vendor list. Keep in mind that if you refer someone, the service your client receives should be up to par with what they would expect from you. Referring a bad vendor can do far more harm than any referral fee you could earn.
Generating referrals is not brain surgery. It takes a little effort, but it should be permanently fixated into your mindset as a salesperson for every customer contact you have. Referrals should become second nature, no different than breathing.
Ken Stark is a Reno commercial real estate executive.
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