Episode 155: “A Referral Is a Referral, Right? Wrong.” Part 1

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Synopsis

All referrals are not created equal. They very in quality depending on how much effort your referral source has invested in preparing them. This week we’ll talk about the first  5 levels, starting with the lowest levels first.

  1. Name and contact info only.
  2. Source gives prospect your literature and company information.
  3. Prospect is expecting your call.
  4. Source has given prospect a testimonial or letter of recommendation.
  5. Source writes a letter (or e-mail) of introduction and promotion.

Brought to you by Networking Now.

Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 155 -

Priscilla:
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables.

I’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkley, California, and I’m joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.

Hello, Ivan. How are you?

Ivan:
I am doing great today, Priscilla, and we’re going to do a two part podcast here today and again next week. Now, this is A Referral is a Referral, Right? Wrong. It’s not. A referral isn’t a referral; there are different levels of referrals. You see, all referrals are not, in fact, equal. Referrals come in many different grades, and they vary in quality according to how much involvement your referral source has invested in preparing the referral for you.

So what I want to do in this podcast is give you the first five levels, that I would consider to be the first five levels of referral. And then next week we’re going to talk about the second five levels, and as you move up the levels, they become better and better referrals.

Priscilla:
Okay.

Ivan:
So we’ll start low and work our way up. The first is basically a name and contact information only. This isn’t really much better than just having a name to call. It only indicates that your referral source has done just enough work to provide you with a phone number and address or some other way of contacting the prospect, and the prospect is willing to talk to you.

And interestingly enough, the name and contact information only is oftentimes the referrals that are generated in networking groups, and we can do better than that. That’s the lowest level of a referral. They may be hot, they may be really excited and they want to talk, but you can actually – if you want to increase and give better referrals, there’s more you can do than just get the name and contact information.

The second level of a referral involves literature and company information. When a referral source offers to give a contact your marketing literature or other information about your business, you can be certain that the prospect will see that material and that the prospect’s interest in the product or service won’t depend solely on that but it will help in the relationship, so it’s a name, contact information, and you’ve given them company information; you’ve given the prospect company information as well. So they’re going into this with more than just, “Hey, I know somebody. Is it okay if I have them call you?”

Which is the third level, you want to make sure that the referral source has authorized you to use his or her name. You want to make sure that they’re expecting that call, and so that’s an important part of the process. By allowing you to say that they endorse your product or service, your source has really given you a valuable leverage with the prospect. So you want to make sure that you let the person know that, “Hey, I’m going to put the two of you in touch.”

The fourth level of a referral is a general testimonial or letter of recommendation. In here, you’re getting a referral source to say or write nice things about you, and that’s, I think, sometimes it can be a major accomplishment, especially if you’re getting a lot of these that you can put together in a book. The willingness to communicate positively about you and your business shows that you’ve built a level of trust with them, and testimonials and letters of recommendation are fairly common in the business world. And you use that letter of recommendation as part of the referral that you’re actually giving out.

And then the fifth level is a letter of introduction and promotion. This is sort of the first level of referral that truly involves a modicum of effort on the part of the referral source, unlike a letter of recommendation, which requires little more than a written endorsement, the letter of introduction implies a more substantive relationship between you and the referral source. It usually includes background information and a description of your product or service as filtered through the lens of the author, of course. It also implies that the prospect will be hearing from the person you’re referring.

I do this all the time, particularly with e-mail introductions for Internet, I would do a letter. But now I use e-mail, and I’ll say, “Person A, let me introduce you to Person B. Person B, this is Person A. This is how I’ve used this individual. I highly recommend them. You’ve said it’s okay if I put them in touch with you, and so here they are.” As a matter of fact, I just did it last night with two people, a friend of mine and a prospect, and I just made the introduction via e-mail. “You ask that I put you in touch with this person that I’ve been talking about; here they are.” I had already sent him literature, I had already sent him material. This isn’t just a warm referral; this is really a hot referral, and now I’ve put the two of them together through that letter of introduction; in this case, it was via e-mail. And adding that element of promotion really increases the effectiveness of the referral source’s efforts on your behalf.

So those are the first five levels of referral, and maybe we can chat about that for a minute or two, and then next week, we’ll talk about the next five levels.

Priscilla:
Okay, great! I got one of those electronic referrals recently, and I answered back. It was a little bit odd. I cc’d the person who sent it, as well, when I answered, but I never got a response. So now I’m left with, “What should I do next?” You know what I mean? They put me together, sent me an e-mail.

Ivan:
Did the person that sent you the e-mail, did they say, “Let me introduce you to –

Priscilla:
Yeah.

Ivan:
– this person; and this person here, here’s Priscilla”? Did you see their e-mail address

Priscilla:
Yes, and I sent them back an e-mail and I cc’d the person who sent it to me as well. And then I introduced myself and said, “I’d love to meet with you and have coffee” or whatever.

Ivan:
And you never heard back?

Priscilla:
No, never heard back. Isn’t that odd?

Ivan:
Well, my recommendation would be for you to connect with the person that gave you the referral and to let them know that. You don’t have to put them on the spot, but you simply say, “Hey, you saw the e-mail that I sent so-and-so, and I just wanted to let you know that they hadn’t gotten back to me yet. And it’s possible that” – and this has happened to me many times where an e-mail has gotten caught in my spam filter .

Priscilla:
Um-hmm, right.

Ivan:
And so somebody is saying, “Hey, I sent you an e-mail and you didn’t get it,” and then I do a really more thorough search through my spam filter, and wah lah, there they are.

Priscilla:
Yeah, yeah.

Ivan:
So you really never know. It could also be that they’re out of town, they’re swamped. There’s so many reasons. It may or may not be that they’re ot interested.

Priscilla:
Right.

Ivan:
It could be that it’s not a good referral, but my advice is follow through to make sure that the person got the information. One technique to do that, of course, is to send it with a receipt required, so what I do when I want to make sure somebody has received something – it’s too late now, I mean, you’ve already sent it and you don’t want to look pushy. So my advice would be to talk to the person who gave you the referral and have them contact the person and just say, “Hey, Priscilla mentioned that she e-mailed you; she hadn’t heard back. Are you still interested?” Something simple like that. “Are you still interested in talking to her? Would it be better that she call you or e-mail you again?”

Priscilla:
Right. Well, what’s the receipt requested? Can you describe that quickly?

Ivan:
When you, particularly in Outlook, there’s a feature that when you send an e-mail, you go to the Options and there’s two options there that you can select; one is Request the Delivery Receipt and the other is Request a Read Receipt. Now, the Request the Delivery Receipt means that you know that it went through the system and got to their e-mail program. Now, the problem with that is it can get to my e-mail account but it dropped into my Junk e-mail box.

Priscilla:
Um-hmm, right.

Ivan:
So that doesn’t tell you the person actually saw it; it just tells you it went through all the exterior filters and got to their interior e-mail system.

Because I have two levels of spam filters; I have an exterior spam filter that doesn’t even get to in-house, and then when it comes in-house, I have a second spam filter in Outlook. I get so much spam, and my e-mail has been out there for so many years, I get a lot of spam, so it could end up in my Junk e-mail.

What this tells somebody, if the Request of Delivery Receipt comes back saying yes, it was delivered, it tells them that it was delivered in-house but it may not have actually been read. So the second one is Request a Read Receipt, and that’s where somebody opens the e-mail and they get a popup that says, “So-and-so would like to confirm that you received this, yes or no. And when you hit yes, you know the person saw the e-mail.

I always do that when I want to make sure somebody has seen it and I want to know if they haven’t. And so that’s a good technique to use. Make sense?

Priscilla:
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I like that technique.

Ivan:
It’s under the Options category for Outlook.

Priscilla:
Okay, great!

Ivan:
So there’s a couple ideas; hope that helps.

And for everyone listening to this podcast, come back next week; we’ll give you Part 2 where we’ll get to the next five levels of a referral. Your goal should be to always give at least a level one referral, but the more you can improve that and give a higher level referral, the better.

Priscilla:
Perfect. Okay, thank you, Dr. Misner.

Ivan:
Thank you, Priscilla.

Priscilla:
I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.

Comments

  1. Suhas Marathe says

    Part 1 with five levels of referrals is educating us and this has left me with a question what could be better than what I read above? I am looking forward for next podcast. I am following up with my referrals and many times personally accompany my group member to the prospect.
    Good Morning.

    This is Suhas from BNI Prosperity Pune India.

Solutions-focused comments are welcome