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How To Get Great (Not Good) Business Referral Sources

How well do your business referral sources know you?  Do they know you well enough to refer the type of prospect you’re looking for?  Or, do they only know you well enough to send someone, anyone, your way?  There’s a difference between getting referrals and getting good referrals.

Anyone can refer business your way. It’s not very hard.  It is only a great referral source that sends you the type of prospect you’re looking for, one that fits your target market, one you’d love to have as a client.

How can you be sure that your referral sources are sending you good referrals?  It’s not rocket science.  You have to tell them in no uncertain terms what you are looking for.  Take the time to properly define what a good prospect looks like to you.  Be specific with revenue targets, employee head count, industry they are in, geography, types of services they need, ability to pay, etc.

Once you have this nailed down you need to educate your referral sources on exactly what you are looking for.  I said exactly, not approximately.  Have the 30 second elevator speech nailed down so that when your referral source asks you what type of clients you’re looking for you can state it clearly and in no uncertain terms.

For example, suppose I am working as an independent financial advisor.  If my referral sources were to ask me what types of clients I look for and love to work with I might answer “I love to work with individuals with a net worth between $5MM and $25MM and investable assets between $2MM and $7MM.”  Or, perhaps it’s “I only work with women who are going through a divorce and will receive a minimum of $2MM in a settlement.”  That means please don’t send me someone who just inherited $100,000 and wants to invest it.  They are not my target client.

From there I might refine it further and educate my referral sources on what occupations my ideal client would have.  So, maybe the 30 second elevator speech becomes a little more refined: “I love to work with professionals and business owners with a net worth between $5MM and $25MM and investable assets between $2MM and $7MM.”  You need to define for yourself what it is you are looking for.

Once I have properly defined and communicated my target prospect, my referral sources know who I like to work with and will keep their eyes and ears open for prospects that match that description.  The success lies in taking the time to define in your own mind your quintessential prospect, then properly educating your referral sources and getting them to understand what you’re looking for.

Maybe it’s making sure that you have a written profile sheet on the ideal prospect that you share with your referral sources.  Or, maybe you drive home the message via regular contact.  It’s not a hard process to master, it just takes a little work and a little time. Like so many other things in life, persistence is the key.


Tim Allen is an experienced professional services marketing professional with broad experience in strategy creation, branding and business development. Mr. Allen has held top marketing positions in both large, national CPA firms as well as smaller, regional firms where he has been instrumental in creating and implementing a firm-wide marketing culture. He has written and presented extensively on the intricacies of services marketing and is currently writing his first book on the transition from college to career and creating your personal brand for the millennial generation.

1 comment on “How To Get Great (Not Good) Business Referral Sources

  1. Pingback: 5 Tips to Make the Most Out of the Summer Months. – The Daily CPA

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