Whilst this is part of any sales process, the verbal signs of commitment on their own are cheap and in some instances totally pointless…instead the sale person would be better off creating situations where the prospect needs to follow through and act on their words. in order to demonstrate potential commitment levels.
Here’s an example:
A client of many years can’t sell directly to their prospective client base as it’s a circumstances and time driven purchase, so for them to sell directly would be the same as your GP ringing you to see if you wanted him to pop in on Tuesday seeing as he’s in your area!! You see the problem with that…
So, instead the client promotes themselves via third-party referrals and partnership arrangements. Again, this too can’t be a direct sell, even via a third-party, subsequently the third-party may not be able to send any work to my client for many months after the initial introduction.
However there is a fairly immediate need to test the strength of that partnership… So, how do you test the level of intent in the third-party to pass work if there is no immediate work to be passed? Should this client rely on the word of the third-party or the actions of the third-party?
I know you will agree with me that actions speak louder than words so here are some task based indicators that have proved to be very reliable on predicting the future strength of referral and third-party partnerships.
The client asks the third-party to:
- Immediately recommend any of their contacts that may want an off the record discussion – the speed and quality of response here is a major indicator of future partnership strength
- Offer a named contact within the client office that the third-party referrers can call at any time to get advice and help before they advise their own clients on what to do – again, a major show of future intent and commitment
- Attend a meeting with another member of the firm – this may not seem like a big ask but it is, time is precious
- Attend a seminar by the client – this is not everyone’s cup of tea but again gives an indicator of potential commitment to building the relationship
- Attend a social engagement at the invitation of the client – again, personal time is precious so it’s not simply a long lunch type jolly but a serious time commitment with an element of social and networking activity.
So, just 5 key indicators that help to predict the POTENTIAL strength of the third-party relationships BEFORE there is any work to be passed from the referrers to my client.
Now imagine if you could do the same for your business.
You can. It’s a simple excel spread sheet.
List your referral partners down one side and across the top list all the events and actions that you could use to test the commitment of your referral network. At a snap shot you get to see who are your best referrers, who has gone cold, who you need to spend more time with and who you should re-establish relationships with.
Third party relationships and referral partnerships can make your business fly or be a major time drain – but you know that actions speak louder than words – make sure you assess the potential strength of your relationship with your third-party referrers before you invest too heavily.
Using the above will help you do just that.
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