Prioritizing your Referral Partners
How do you decide which referral partners deserve your time? Should you spend lots of effort putting together an email for past customers? Or does it pay to drop everything to woo a new business who may potentially send you a high volume of clients? The answers can be complex, but contemplating a few concepts can help evaluate what works for you.
Quality vs Quantity
The million-dollar question is, “Should I pursue a large quantity of referral partners or should I concentrate on high-quality partners?” As you might guess, the answer isn’t black-and-white. Quality seems like the obvious choice, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.
Referral partners with the largest spheres of influence will provide the best returns on your investment, so prioritize them accordingly. Balance your desire to impress new partners promptly with your ability to take care of existing relationships. And don’t forget that sometimes there are such things as easy, quality connections—but you can’t predict when these will occur or do anything to bring them about.
Source or Partner?
It’s not just semantics: How you view your referral partners impacts how you prioritize them. Do you think of them as sources and leads who can bring business your way? Or do you classify them as partners, your equals in a mutually productive relationship?
True partnership is a give-and-take. Working relationships are no different. If you’re expecting to get referrals but not provide anything in return, then you’re not managing your partners, you’re expecting something for nothing. Listen to your partners, ask them how you can help, and engage in interactions that benefit both of you. Don’t just worry about your own needs. Prioritize your partners’ needs and you’ll see the rewards come back to you.
Track. Track. Track.
Who is your largest dollar-amount referral partner? Which partner refers the greatest number of clients? Which websites send the most business and what keywords were searched? Do you have a report or spreadsheet of all your referral partners?
Data is critical in helping you manage and prioritize your partners. It is the only way to know which relationships deserve your time and energy is to track their returns. Your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) should have a way to drill down and see your most productive referral relationships. Likewise, your website provider should be able to give you analytics on popular search terms. Ask every single client what brought them to you and record their response. Tracking is essential to understanding your referral sources and can help you prioritize them more than any other method.
Your time is precious. You need to make the highest possible impact with your partnerships.