This week Dr. Misner shares tips for giving good referrals from Whistler, Canada:
- Listen to other people’s needs. When you hear a need that matches someone you know, bring out your BNI business card file. Keep the testimonials you’ve heard in mind.
- Ask them if it’s okay for your BNI colleague to call them. If the prospect isn’t interested in receiving a call, that person may not be a good referral. Members of some professions are not allowed to phone potential clients, but you may be able to make an introductory call yourself. Know about the profession.
- Be entirely honest about what you know about both people. If your fellow BNI member charges high rates, say so. If you don’t know much about the prospect, say that, too.
- If the referral is hot, pass it right away. Don’t wait for the BNI meeting. Your colleague could miss an opportunity.
- Don’t give marginal referrals. Bad referrals hurt your reputation in the chapter. High-quality referrals are more likely to turn into sales.
What are your tips for giving good referrals? Leave your suggestions in the comments.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 266 -
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 am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you and where are you?
This week, I am in Whistler, Canada for the TLC meeting, the Transformational Leadership Council. I always get great ideas that I bring back to BNI at these. I am looking forward to sharing some of these maybe in a future podcast.
Great. So what are you going to share with us today?
Today I am going to talk about the five pointers for giving good referrals. I think this is something that all BNI members should really understand. The five pointers for giving good referrals. So if you learn the art of giving good referrals, it’s a way of really generating more business for yourself. If you give referrals, people appreciate that and they want to make sure to keep you in mind to pass referrals back to you. So here are the five pointers that I recommend.
This isn’t meant to be all inclusive. It isn’t everything, but it’s five really important things to consider when you are talking to somebody and you have a referral opportunity. First, listen to other people’s needs. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them both proportionately. When you are talking to people, ask questions. Learn about them. Learn what some of their needs are. Learn about their challenges.
If you hear something that someone says that is an opportunity to give a referral, tell them that you know somebody who can provide that product or service. It’s one of the reasons that you want to carry a business card file with all of the members’ cards in it. “As a matter of fact, I happen to have that person’s business card right here with me. Here is their card.” Ask for their card in return and say, “Is it okay if I give that person your card?” and get a card back for them.
Now, what if you had a testimonial from that person. Would you use it right then?
Yeah, you want to use it right there. Theoretically, you have either used the member or you have heard of other BNI members who have used the member. It’s the reasons why we do testimonials in BNI meetings. So even if you haven’t used somebody, you can give a testimonial. You can say, “You know, I know five people who have used this person. They all had great things to say. Here is what they have said about the person.” Then give that testimonial.
So when you hear somebody else’s need and you hand that business card to them, that’s when you want to give the testimonial about that service provider, that BNI member. Now, it’s really important that you get their card from them to ask the person, the prospect, if it’s okay for the person that you are referring to call them. In other words, say, “Do you mind if I give them your card and have them contact you?” That is really important. They will say yes or no. Of course, if they say no, you know, they are probably not a real good referral. I am not even sure I would hand it- I probably wouldn’t count it as a referral, but I would give it to the member and say, “Here’s somebody. I gave this person your card. He said you didn’t need to call him, so I didn’t count it as a referral. If he does call you, would you let me know?” Because then it does end up working out. If they say no to that, I wouldn’t even count it as a referral.
Also remember that certain professions cannot call. Certain professions cannot call. Psychotherapists, medical professionals, sometimes even attorneys are uncomfortable calling. You have to talk to the member and the member will tell you whether you can follow up on a call or not. There have been some cases when attorneys would be willing to call because there was a very specific reason to call and I set it up- or better yet, what I have done if the attorney is uncomfortable calling, is I will set up a 3 way call and make the introduction. So the attorney doesn’t have to call. I make the call. And I do either a telebridge or a conference call where I would introduce you, Priscilla, to my attorney and make the introduction and then back out of the call. Most, if not all, attorneys are comfortable with that because I am making the call, not them. So know about the profession and ask if it’s okay to call.
The third point is you have to be entirely honest about the person whom you are referring. That really goes both ways. You want to be honest about the prospect and what you know about the prospect. You may say you don’t know a lot but this is what you know. You want to be very honest about the person providing the product or service, the BNI member. Now, what do I mean by that?
Here is a great example. I have used a BNI contractor. I mentioned in a previous podcast. I have used him for years. He is not the cheapest contractor. He tends to be on the higher end of the contractors. He’s not the highest, but he is never the lowest. So when I refer him, I say, “Look, he is not going to be your lowest bid. I guarantee you he is not going to be your lowest bid. You need to know that. However,” here is where I go back to the testimonial, “He always honors his work. There is never a problem. He takes care of it no questions asked. The quality of his work is always outstanding. I have used contractors in the past before him where the work was pretty marginal and had to be redone later. The cheap guy cost more because it had to be redone. It was shoddy work.” It reminds me of the memory hook I heard from a contractor once. It was if you think a professional is expensive, hire an amateur.
If you really want it done right, you have to hire a professional. So I tell people. Look, he is not the cheapest, but man, he is really good. That kind of candidness is what I mean.
Do you filter out who you refer your contractor to? I know I have had that same situation. If you are pretty sure that they are looking for somebody who is not going to be very expensive, do you just not refer them?
Well, I give them the opportunity. You never know. You are surprised sometimes. People may have had a really bad experience with a contractor, so they will go, “Yeah. I don’t want a cheap guy. I don’t care.” Even though they don’t seem to have a lot of money, they might go with it because they understand that the cheap guy isn’t always cheaper. I will tell them upfront. If they have any hesitation and they say, I am not sure I can take somebody who is more on the expensive side, then I will not give the referral. I wouldn’t pass that one, but I would gauge their response before I actually make the referral transaction.
The fourth one is if the referral is hot, pass it right away. I always find it shocking when people have a referral that is really hot and they wait a week to hand it out at the meeting. If somebody says they need an contractor right now or they have a family member who is getting married and they need a florist. They need to start talking to them right now. Then I would pick up the phone and make that phone call and put those people together immediately. Don’t wait. You don’t want it to cool down. A solid referral doesn’t last long sometimes, so you want to respond very quickly.
Fifth, don’t give marginal or bad referrals. Just don’t give them. If you give a bad referral, it hurts your reputation in a chapter. If you give a referral to a member that is really not a legitimate, believe me, members talk about it. They will share that with other people. They will say, hey look, this person gives marginal referrals. You want to make sure it is a legitimate referral. The way, I have just described it, to ensure that it is a legitimate referral is to listen to people’s needs.
When you find somebody who can use the service of a BNI member, you get their business card. You give a testimonial for the person. You ask for the individual’s business card. You give them the BNI member’s business card. You ask for their card. You confirm that it is okay for the BNI member to call when appropriate. You’re candid about what the person can provide, what they are good at. If the referral is hot, you pass it right away. When you do those kinds of things, you are not going to give a bad referral. A referral is not a guaranteed sale. But it’s an opportunity to talk to somebody who is in the market to buy your product or service. That is what makes a good referral.
Last week we had Brad Sugars who was talking about turning leads, which are prospects, into sales. He talked about advertising leads and other kinds of things as well as referrals. Well, the same thing applies for referrals. You have to close those referrals into sales and not all referrals turn into a sale, but the higher the quality of the referral, the higher percentage of sales that you are going to make for the referrals. Those are great topics for education coordinators.
Okay, great. Well, thank you, Dr. Misner. Do you have anything to add to it, or has that pretty much tied it up?
I think that is it. If you have heard this podcast, I would love for you to add to it. What else do you think are good pointers for giving good referrals? This isn’t an endless list, but it is a good, solid list. If there is something else that you think is really important, add that here at BNIpodcast.com with your comment. That’s it for today, Priscilla.
Okay, perfect. Thank you. Well, that’s it for this week. 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. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.