Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

3 Ways to Get More Love from Your Referral Partners

by Laura Lee Sparks
If your referrals from local professionals are running dry, it might be time implement new strategies to nurture those professional relationships and keep business flowing again. Rather than just asking for their recommendation, here are three creative ways to add value to your referral partner’s business and make it irresistible to work with you:
  1. Ask to promote their services, no strings attached- Let your referrals sources know that you have a blog or newsletter reaching thousands of families in the local area and that you’d love to tell your clients more about them. Offer to post a guest blog on their behalf or feature their upcoming events in your email newsletter. Besides creating good will with your referral partners, they’ll be more receptive to promote your events and services when approached in the future.
  2. Make Promoting YOU Beneficial For THEM- One strategy we use for our private clients is to craft a beautiful letter and custom certificates that the referral source can send to THEIR clients saying “…because you are so important to us, I wanted to personally send you a valuable gift to say thank you for your business.” The gift, of course, is a free session with the attorney, which we note has a value of $500. The referral partner’s clients feel great about receiving such a valuable gift (increasing business for THEM), while you benefit from all the new appointments!
  3. Share Without Selling- Don’t overlook the importance of sending along helpful articles or resources to your referral partners from time to time. It’s a great way to keep the relationship going without a huge time investment. We always like to include a note along the lines of, “Hey–I thought this information would be helpful to you and wanted to pass it along…hope you are doing well” at the top of the email for that extra personal touch. It’s almost always appreciated and keeps you at the top of your referral partner’s mind.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


There is a spiritual aspect to our lives – when we give we receive – when a business does something good for somebody, that somebody feels good about them!
Ben Cohen, Ben & Jerry’s


Monday, August 20, 2012

Know Your Referral Partners, Inside & Out!

by: Sam Blyveis

You want only the highest level of quality leads. You are only going to get quality leads from those who know and understand you and your business. Forge relationships with your top partners. I can honestly tell you I have 2 circles of referral partners. First, my 2nd tier partners, which are the people I know, respect and are comfortable referring when the opportunity is present. Then, there is my 1st tier, my closest partners. These are the ones whose verticals may be in close alignment with mine, but more importantly, they have been there with me through thick and thin. We have each other’s back. Any opportunities that arise which may be something they or one of their partners can assist with, I drop everything and consult them. I personally walk into a referral with them, and sell them! These people have become some of my closest friends and confidants.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012


People expect good service but few are willing to give it.
Robert Gateley


"Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong."
Donald Porter, V.P. British Airways

Customer Expectations

Friday, August 17, 2012

Set Up Your Referral Partners for Success - The Don't's

by Sam Blyveis
  • Never try to sell your partners products/services. Get the appointment, get them on the phone to make an appointment, or put them in direct contact so that they can do their job. REMEMBER, you are not an expert in that field, or you wouldn’t need to refer it out. 100% of the referrals you try to sell will fail! Sell the partner, not their stuff!
  • Never put the partner in a spot! I recently had one of these experiences and it ended up a complete failure and wasted a lot of time for all 3 parties! Never ask your partner a question in front of the referral that you don’t already know the answer to! Making your partner look unknowledgeable or unprepared never works!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Set Your Referral Partner Up for Success - The Do's

by Sam Blyveis
These may seem common sense, but should still be noted, as complacency will spoil a good referral every time!
  • Give good leads. Note the decision makers or the contacts they’ll need to contact.
  • -Give your partner details on the company or individual they are to deal with. Let them know if this person has a dry sense of humor, has a soft spot for something special, is rude, etc… Preparing them is a courtesy and will likely raise their chance of winning the business. REMEMBER, 1 REEFERRAL THAT LEADS TO A DEAL WON IS WORTH FAR MORE THAN NUMEROUS UN-WON REFERRALS!
  • If at all possible, contact the partner while you are right there with the referral. This demonstrates the degree to which you are tied to this partner and establishes instant credibility!
  • Answer your phone!!! When a referral partner calls, answer the phone! If they are calling to shoot the breeze, and you are busy, let them know you’ll call them back. Many referrals that go stagnant could be won if that call had been answered while the partner had the customer on point and open to the issue that was causing them pain. Once the partner leaves, the prospect is going to move on and get rid of their pain, even if it means leaving it unresolved.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

10 Commandments of Great Customer Service

By Susan Friedmann, Marketing
  1. Know who is boss. You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it is your customers want. When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible.  
  2.  Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions - thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants. Do you know what three things are most important to your customer? Effective listening and undivided attention are particularly important on the show floor where there is a great danger of preoccupation - looking around to see to whom else we could be selling to.
  3. Identify and anticipate needs. Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.
  4. Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance. On the show floor be sure that your body language conveys sincerity. Your words and actions should be congruent.
  5. Help customers understand your systems. Your organization may have the world's best systems for getting things done, but if customers don't understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful that your systems don't reduce the human element of your organization. 
  6. Appreciate the power of "Yes". Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. Figure out how afterwards. Look for ways to make doing business with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.
  7. Know how to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.
  8. Give more than expected. Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following:
    • What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere?
    • What can you do to follow-up and thank people even when they don't buy?
    • What can you give customers that is totally unexpected?
  9. Get regular feedback. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services.
    • Listen carefully to what they say.
    • Check back regularly to see how things are going.
    • Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.
  10. Treat employees well. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Coaching Sessions

by Jen Smith,

Coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people to produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers or businesses.
The way in which your approach coaching sessions will make a difference to what you get out of them and how much you achieve. Here are some tips that will help you to get the most out of coaching sessions:

1. Choose Wisely

Choose coaching wisely. Coaching is not counseling or therapy and it is important to be clear about the distinctions. There are many resources on the internet that will help you learn more about coaching.

2. Get Clear

If you can, write a list of the areas you want to work on before you start your coaching sessions. If you are not sure about what you want to work on you can let your referral partner know when you initiate coaching and work on this together. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.

3. Be Ready

Coaching takes commitment. Be prepared to work hard and be challenged. Coaching is about making changes and achieving different results to what you are achieving now. You will need to be in it for the long haul and be prepared to try new things. Your coach’s job is to help you to go beyond what you normally do and achieve. The purpose of coaching is to see where you can improve in the area of life you are working on.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

4. Be Prepared

Be prepared for each session. You will work with your coach during each session to create actions to complete for the next session. These actions will help you to move towards your goal. Make sure you do what you promise and turn up prepared each time. Completing these actions may be challenging at times, but the real work happens between sessions: in your own life.

5. Be Punctual

Treat your coaching sessions and coach with respect and be punctual for coaching sessions. If you are always late for appointments and you are doing the same with your coaching sessions, this could be an area that you could use your sessions to work on.

6. Be Open To Change

Know that by undertaking the coaching process, you are saying that it is time to move your life forward with absolute commitment and confidence. Be prepared for change. Coaching will have positive impacts on many areas of your life, not just the area you are working on. Be open and willing to change. Don’t hire a coach because someone has told you that you should or because it sounds good. Do it because you are ready to change and take full responsibility for engaging in the process.

7. Be Coachable

Being coachable is fundamental to the coaching relationship. Being coachable doesn’t mean you cannot voice your opinion or that you should blindly follow what your coach says. It does, however, mean that you are open and willing to be coached and trust your coach’s recommendations and ideas. This is why it is so important to spend some time choosing a coach. You need to feel comfortable with them and trust their judgement before you get into the coaching process with them. If a coach identifies that you are not fully committed to your goals and agreed actions, they will raise this with you so you can both determine the most appropriate course of action.

8. Be Responsible

Be responsible for your own actions and initiate the coaching process on this basis. This also means raising with your coach — without delay — anything that you are unhappy about within your coaching relationship. Don’t relinquish power to your coach. Coaching is a partnership and you need to be responsible for your own actions.

9. Be Committed

The coaching process takes absolute commitment. To achieve anything extraordinary in life, you need to be willing to engage, work hard and move past obstacles and your own fears. Make sure you are ready to take on the commitment when you start your coaching sessions. Being clear about your commitment will help you get through the challenges you will face along the way.

10. Have Fun

Finally, have fun with the coaching process. Coaching is an incredibly powerful and rewarding way to make changes in your life and /or business. Make sure you enjoy the ride!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Repeat Business

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.
Walt Disney

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

8 Rules to Good Customer Service, Pt. 2

by Susan Ward Guide
1) Answer your phone.
Get call forwarding. Or an answering service. Hire staff if you need to. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. (Notice I say "someone". People who call want to talk to a live person, not a fake "recorded robot".) 

2) Don't make promises unless you will keep them.
Not plan to keep them. Will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday”, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don't say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc.. Think before you give any promise - because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one.

3) Listen to your customers.
Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn't been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? From a customer's point of view, I doubt it. Can the sales pitches and the product babble. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.

 4) Deal with complaints.
No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, "You can't please all the people all the time". Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time - and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.

5) Be helpful - even if there's no immediate profit in it.
The other day I popped into a local watch shop because I had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of my watch band together. When I explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to my watch band – and charged me nothing! Where do you think I'll go when I need a new watch band or even a new watch? And how many people do you think I've told this story to?

6) Train your staff (if you have any) to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.
Do it yourself or hire someone to train them. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn't) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, "I don't know, but so-and-so will be back at..."

7) Take the extra step.
For instance, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don't just say, "It's in Aisle 3". Lead the customer to the item. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people.

8) Throw in something extra.
Whether it's a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. The local art framer that we use attaches a package of picture hangers to every picture he frames. A small thing, but so appreciated.

If you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? The irony of good customer service is that over time it will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

8 Rules to Good Customer Services, Pt. 1

By Susan Ward , Guide

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won't be profitable for long.

Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy - happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers.

If you're a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that that individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.

How do you go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; "You will be judged by what you do, not what you say."

I know this verges on the kind of statement that's often seen on a sampler, but providing good customer service IS a simple thing. If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does these things:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Successful Networking

by Karen Cormier
Congratulations, you’ve joined a networking group. You get to come in once a week and the referrals will be dropped in your lap…. Wouldn’t that be great?

It takes time and effort to become part of a sales team. When you first join TEAM, we ask that you start with getting to know everyone, by having Coaching Sessions. Once you know and trust the people in your chapter, you (and they) will be comfortable in knowing that you are a person of integrity, and will feel comfortable in sending you referrals.

It’s important to always expand your circle. There are so many different events that happen around town. Make it point to go to a chamber mixer, ribbon cutting or any other event that will be an opportunity to meet new people.

FOLLOW UP!!! If you take someone’s card, ALWAYS call or e mail them, and let them know you enjoyed meeting them. You never know where it may lead.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Invest Your Time to Build Relationships

You know a lot of people, but how well do you really know them? By investing your time to strengthen relationships you will grow a strong referral network.
You may have heard the phrase, it’s, "Who you know." Well, many believe that the phrase, "How well you know them and how they do business" that counts.

This means your network must not only be broad, it must also be deep. Unfortunately, most people make lots of contacts hoping to find that special someone that will become a client. They are simply gaining exposure and some visibility. These people need to consider this… eucalyptus trees have a shallow root system and the oak tree has a root system that grows deep into the ground. During heavy winds, the eucalyptus tree blows over and yet the oak will weather the storm. Which tree are you? If you want to be the oak tree you need to build a relationship based on trust and deepen the roots of your network. Let’s get you started.
1. Determine who is in your network that has the same ideal client as you do. Ask around to determine if this person and the business are reputable. Visit their website and read the marketing material.
2. Schedule an hour and get to know them as a person and about their business. At the end of an hour you will know if you want to get to know them better or not.
3. If you still want to know them after the initial hour invite them out for a social event, attend a networking event together, or a fundraiser to further strengthening the relationship.
4. Once trust has been established you may want to pass a referral or make an introduction to someone in your network in order to move the relationship along. This is important, one referral or introduction only… follow up on this and see how it goes. If all goes well, then get your “Ask in Gear” and ask for a referral or introduction in return.
We all know the best time to plant an oak tree was 25 years ago; however, the next best time is now! Invest your time and develop business relationships with deep roots, it will be worth it.

Laura Bruno
The Business Relationship Authority

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

How To Be an Effective Networker

by Kelli Holmes
Definition of Networking (from the Small Business Glossary):

Developing business contacts to form business relationships, increase your knowledge, expand your business base and serve the community.

How to be an effective networker:

    • Need a positive and supportive attitude.
    • Have the tools: card file (to refer), your cards (no good sitting in your desk) and a badge (to identify yourself and your business).
    • Belonging is not enough- you need to participate.  Be active!
    • Effective networking requires you to develop relationships- which take time and effort.

Get to know the professionals you want to refer and the professionals you want to refer you!

Networking is not a natural act:

    • It is an acquired skill that needs to be honed and practiced daily.
    • It can/should become a way of life.
    • It is one of the most powerful techniques you can master to succeed in almost any endeavor.

Effective networking:

It requires you to develop relationships and trust. It requires an investment of time.
And, most importantly you need to educate your networking partners on how to refer
you business. 

Networking has three key elements:
·        Develops contacts
·        Increases knowledge
·        Brings you referrals!  
When was the last time you got a great referral from someone you hardly knew?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Foundation for a Great Business

Every great business is built on friendship.
JC Penney

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Getting to Know your Networking Partners

by Kelli Holmes
Once you have begun your journey of doing better, smarter business with Relationship Marketing, there will come a time when you need to take those relationships to the next level.  You have worked on building relationships with your “Power Partners” and other members in your networking group and with the professionals in your local chamber of commerce, perhaps also a community service organization or in your own personal/social sphereBut do you really know them?  Better question, do they really know you? 

Getting together for a meeting once a week or once a month is good, but what would happen with your relationships if you invested the time to meet with your networking partners outside of the normal networking meeting, business mixer, committee or board meeting?  At TEAM Referral Network we call these meetings “Coaching Sessions”.

“Coaching Sessions”

For your networking partners to refer business to you, they must first get to know who you are and what you have to offer.  Meet for lunch or coffee with a different member of your group(s) each week. At this meeting, use the time so you can each share information about one another. Getting to know your networking partners will help you give more referrals and receive more and better referrals.
Here is a guideline to use when you get together:

  • Share information about who your clients are, where they live, work, etc.
  • Share with each other your background, education and any recognition/awards you’ve received.
  • Tell each other about your family life, hobbies and interests.
  • Talk about other organizations you participate in.
  • Exchange literature and/or selling tools.
  • Schedule a visit each others place of business.

Take the opportunity to make these “Coaching Sessions” part of your marketing plans for the next year.  The investment of time will pay off in growth for your business!