Businesses of all sizes and every sales professional need a referral network to increase their revenues. A referral network is the individuals that a salesperson has made connections with and with whom those connections are developed into good relationships. These relationships can lead to referrals and recommendations that can translate into getting more clients for business growth.

What Are the Benefits of a Good Referral Network?

The benefits of building a good referral network include free advertising. When someone has a positive opinion of you, your company, and your products and services, they will share that opinion with others. Often a good referral contact will lead to unexpected opportunities because of their own network connections. Growing your exposure will ensure that your work will get more notice, solidify your reputation, build more top-of-mind recall, and provide more business leads.

How to Create a Good Referral Network

First, find referral prospects that are relevant to you and your business. You’ll want prospects that represent quality, and who can provide an authentic referral.

Second, build relationships in three circles. The first circle is represented by people in businesses most closely related to yours. The second circle is represented by businesses that may have similar buyer personas. The third has businesses that may be unimportant to you but are important to your customer base.

After defining these circles, zero in on the best prospects by defining the types of services outside of your own that your customers would benefit from the most. Identify the best providers of those services. Then, define what you can offer to those providers. Next, find ways to approach those referrers.

How to Maximize Your Referral Network

Maximizing your referral network starts with an honest assessment of how you are doing. Then, maximize your network by taking a service-first approach. That is, provide real value to customers, serve others, and find out how you can help others. They’ll be willing to reciprocate when they see your genuine interest. You’ll want to develop (and maintain) a diverse network—a mix of individuals that may be related to your business. And then don’t become complacent. Keep seeking out new people to add to your referral circle so that your referral pipeline is fresh and strong. Keep building relationships by finding ways to collaborate and build deeper rapport.

Building relationships and elevating rapport are achieved by spending time with people who are referrers. You can sponsor an event and ask a referrer to speak. And it is always important to acknowledge referrals and express thanks.

Always evaluate existing connections and find ways to stay involved with them. Sharing knowledge is a good way to be connected and to offer value. Another way is to collaborate with them on their challenges and needs.

With an established referral network, it is important to stay in front of them to remain top of mind. That is accomplished by creating a plan to stay connected. You can send them an email once a month with a thought, suggestion, or industry information. You can phone them to say hello and share something personal or business-related. A personal note through the mail can also be helpful.

Always instill confidence in the people you meet. Honest engagement comes before selling.

To Achieve Sales Success, Seek Outside Expertise

As a fractional VP of Sales, James Bellew works with small to medium-sized business owners to build or rebuild their sales organizations. That includes sales strategy, processes, building, establishing, and aligning sales teams and their sales tools to achieve solid sales improvement.