What Does It Take to Get Referrals? Three Little Words.

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Since word of mouth marketing is king in professional service industries, we recognize that professional services are built on the magic triad of:

  • Know

  • Like

  • Trust

Mark Bullock of http://phoneBlogger.net discusses the need for people to know, like and trust you before they do business with you.People need to know, like, and trust you before they are going to do business with you.  It’s not so much about business to business marketing, as much as it’s about building a network of professional relationships. Those who would refer you also need to know, like, and trust you. 

There’s really no reason for a person to refer someone unless there’s some sort of relationship in existence. That relationship can be cursory or have considerable depth, but meeting someone at a networking event, through social media, or at a business luncheon is only the beginning of developing a relationship. It’s what you do with that contact, or how you foster and grow that relationship, that can turn it into something with potential for referral of business or services. 

People don’t necessarily recognize that the relationship that’s being formed when they meet someone or network online has two sides; that these contacts aren’t just additional people to broadcast marketing information to. Instead, these are people to build reciprocal and valuable interactions with – to not only allow people to get to know, like and trust you, but for you to get to know them and to find a way to add value to their world.

What we feel is a prerequisite to referrals is if you want others to take an interest in you, take an interest in them. If you want others to pay attention to you, pay attention to them.

Building on this premise, we are working on a series of blog articles about what it takes to build know/like/trust reciprocal relationships. In upcoming blog posts, we’ll be discussing further – what it takes to become referable, how to find, build & manage these reciprocal relationships, and how to leverage them for success.

 Mark Bullock Mark Bullock

(631) 754-0800

Mark@phoneBlogger.net

www.phoneBlogger.net

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Comments & Replies from Social Media
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Thanks for the post Mark. The simple premise of Know/Like/Trust is excellent. I look forward to your future blog articles discussing the “hows” of building professional relationships based on the premise.

Paul Haire (Via LinkedIn)

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Thank you Paul. Fact is for me it comes down to a simple premise – making a choice to care about others. When we can set our own wants aside for a bit, in fact making our “wants” in some way – in the service of and acknowledgement of others (paid or not), we not only can sleep well at night, but we we become someone that others want to get to know very well. I appreciate your comment, all the best – Mark

Mark Bullock

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Mark this was very good post. I like your concept of know/like/trust because it really makes sense. Why would someone want to do business with you, if they really do not know you. I will be looking out for more of your articles.

Donya Zimmerman, JD (Via LinkedIn)

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Thanks Donya, exactly – why would they refer when there is no trusted relationship?
Fact is the referring party is risking their own reputation when referring.
After all, what if the party they gave the referral to doesn’t get good service, or worse?

Mark Bullock

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I completely agree. I spent a lot of time putting together a great website and blog but in the end I am always thinking about how paramount building relationships and helping others is to building a practice.. Ben www.benstich.com

Ben Stich (Via LinkedIn)

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For sure Ben, and when we get referred, what’s the party being referred most likely to do before contacting us?
Well they look us up on the web of course, to confirm whom they’ve been referred to is for real. This will be part of my upcoming blog articles on “Being Referable / Findable”.

Mark Bullock

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Here is what stuck with me: “…these are people to build reciprocal and valuable interactions with.”
Yes – so in your marketing, do not be egocentric.
In other words, it is not about you getting their referral, but in so doing, how might the referrer be better off for having made the referral. Please note, I am in no way inferring a payment for referral.
What I learned in my marketing, the “better off” for the referral source was them knowing that their clients/patients would be well cared for. I needed to built their trust and confidence that I
would be of service and helpful because if someone does refer to me, my action winds up being a reflection on them!
Many of my referrals come from physicians. I send thank you note for referrals and I send out timely reports (when appropriate to do so). I am also good at returning calls to my referral sources quickly. My
responsiveness builds trust. I meet my referral sources needs with good service, communication and gratitude.

Gary Direnfeld (Via LinkedIn)

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Completely agree Gary, “knowing that their clients/patients would be well cared for” and “responsiveness builds trust”, really great comment thank you. And thanks everyone for your thoughtful and right on the mark comments.

Mark Bullock

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The “Bumper Sticker” version of your article is: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Al Tetrault (Via LinkedIn)

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Awesome Bumper Sticker synopsis of the article Al, thanks:-)

Mark Bullock

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This is so important. I’ve met my business goals because of my referral relationships.

Sheila Best, Phd (Via LinkedIn)

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That’s what it’s all about Sheila – “Relationships” – thanks for your comment – Mark

Mark Bullock

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As old school as the idea is, I agree that business gets done / referrals get made between people who have some degree of the know / like / trust factor in their favor. I think that’s what a lot of therapists miss when focusing their marketing efforts around gaining personal visibility and telling people what they do and why it’s good for them — none of which really generates that know / like / trust quality.

Deah Curry PhD, CPC (Via LinkedIn)

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I have always got more business by referrals than I ever did from advertising. Looking after your current clients is the best way to get new business. Never turn away small cases as you will often be surprised where the lead.

Gerard Desmond (Via LinkedIn)

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It has always been my contention Gerard, that great customer/client service is your best form of marketing. Sage advice, thanks for the comment – Mark

Mark Bullock

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 To get to the bumper sticker situation, you have to show comment and respect to the people you deal with in order to built trust and respect in you as a person and your ability to deliver a quality service, whereafter the recommendations and referrals will follow.

Eben Potgieter (Via LinkedIn)

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Indeed Eben, it’s easy to refer someone with integrity, not so easy if you question whether you can trust them or not. Thanks for the comment – Mark

Mark Bullock

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Sounds like Provisor’s mantra, Mark. It is a chicken and egg issue Marv. Familiarity certainly helps, but trust comes from seeing how another works with others and with whom they associate. Short of receiving sample work products or retaining two or more professionals simultaneously, there is no real way to know whether the deliverable will be solid, on time and a value for the fee charged.

We worked with a personal friend of my wife for PR for our firm. She essentially defrauded us for $8,000 due to her own desperate needs. Know, like and trust is what Bernie Madoff relied upon. Verify might need to be added to the list.

Carl Sheeler, Ph.D., ASA, CBA, CVA (Via LinkedIn)

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Wow Carl, so sorry to hear about your being defrauded like that. I can understand how an event like that could have you wanting to “verify” trust worthiness, especially when it comes to referring someone.

My article was not really intended to go that deep, but to encourage professionals not to think that simply exchanging business cards, and having a 5 min conversation at a networking event, was the be all, and end all, of establishing a relationship that would provide them with referrals. As unfortunately we’ve all meet people over the years that thought that should be enough.

Indeed, there are many financial and/or legal transactions/services that “verification” of trustworthiness would not only be desirable, but really an imperative.

Thanks for the comment – Mark

Mark Bullock

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Referring other professionals is a serious responsibility, almost “fiduciary” in nature. On what basis should professionals refer other professionals? Competence and integrity are two essential qualities a professional must possess to be referable. These qualities are the essence of performance-based reputation. One of my favorite quotes by Samuel Johnson, “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless. Knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” So, for starters, competence (know what you are supposed to know) and integrity (put the client’s best interests first) — pretty simple…on the surface. Reputation is a third – and often forgotten – consideration. If ethical behavior is defined by what you do when no one is looking, then reputation might be defined by what people say about you when you are not listening. Reputation is based on performance. It is built over a long period of time and encompasses many transactions and experiences and involves many people. It can be a source of competitive advantage. A reputation for competence and integrity should be rewarded in the marketplace. It should be encouraged, sustained, and referred. Al. Gibbons

Albert E. Gibbons (Via LinkedIn)

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Thanks Albert, I really like the idea of & phrase “reputation is what people say about you when you are not listening”, that’s great.
And as I replied to Carl – of course in finance and law, medicine, and other professional services, “verifying” competency can be very important. Thanks for the comment – Mark

Mark Bullock

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When I started in this business a sage mentor of mine gave me the following piece of advice that has worked very well for me.

When marketing yourself the other party has to see you as competent, like you, and trust you. It is that simple. By providing timely quality service this results in repeat business.

I have passed this on to many others since. This simple mantra works.

Michael Gregory (Via LinkedIn)

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Right on point Michael, you’re mentor boiled it down to it’s essence. Thanks for the comment – Mark

Mark Bullock

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6 Responses to What Does It Take to Get Referrals? Three Little Words.

  • Hi Mark, SO true! There is nothing like that personal touch. Spending time meeting people, getting to know them and their business, exchanging ideas and resources….all come to fruition in building an important referral network. And the added bonus is making really good friends along the way! Ada

  • avatar
    Mark Bullock says:

    Thanks Ada, and I’m sure you’d agree, that all of us who’ve done a significant amount of networking, have formed many amazing and diverse relationships & friendships over the years that we simply never could have planned for – that all started just from simply taking an interest in those that we meet. Truly – you just never know.

  • … Fabulous article!

    Since I founded my Professional Organizing company in 1985, I’ve had
    only one Mission Statement and/or mantra:

    “I only do business with people that I LIKE, TRUST, & RESPECT.”
    ~Mary E. Rossow, http://www.RossowResources.com

    (… and……. so far, so good!)

  • avatar
    Mark Bullock says:

    You go Mary! You’re speaking my language.
    I’ve adopted the same for almost all my professional career, and I’m proud to say that every client I work with, and frankly everyone I work with – I Know, Like, Trust, and Respect. I sleep well at night knowing that my personal – professional mission statement is upheld on a daily basis – “I make a difference for others that are out to make a difference in the lives of others”. God Bless.

  • Simple but true.

    People want to work with people who share similar values.

  • avatar
    Art Dolan says:

    Great advice and comments. It is reflective of the statement “You are known by the company you keep”. A good relationship relies on Trust, Respect and Confidence that someone will perform the tasks for which you recommend them. I look forward to your further blogs.

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