A Referral Program can be one of the best and most cost effective ways to generate leads for small businesses, but is highly underutilized. This is most likely because large businesses implement them and many make it as difficult as possible to participate and understand. For this reason, small business owners do not feel they have the staff or bandwidth to implement one successfully. They then miss a great opportunity.
We all work on our business networks in hope that people we deal with and know will refer business our way and in a lot of cases they do. But think for a moment, these same people in our networks are also looking for leads from us as well and there are only so many leads to go around. If you know two companies that do similar business and you know both are good companies – who would you refer business?
Implementing a referral program can be very easy and will increase your chances of receiving qualified leads. You only pay the referral partner when the lead closes, so there is more of an incentive to qualify the leads provided, versus giving your name or business card out to people they know and telling them to give you a call. You do not have to have a sophisticated system for tracking. If you can have forms on the web, it makes it easier, but I have run several referral programs in small and medium size businesses with Excel or Word based forms. The key is to having a set process.
Step 1 – Set Guidelines for Your Business
There should be a mini contract which outlines the rules and regulations for your program. This needs to be simple to understand and they need to agree to the rules before you take them on as a referral partner.
Step 2 – Application of the Referral Partner
There should be a short application that the referral partner fills in providing whatever background information you want to keep on the partner.
Step 3 – Lead Application
There should be a form online or one that the referral partner submits to you in a document format. The form should have as much information as you feel you need to qualify the lead. This will differ by business. You will need to capture all of the contact information about the business.
Step 4– Lead Tracking
All leads should be tracked. This can be as easy as tracking them in a spreadsheet.
RK Fischer & Associates