Contributed by Think BIG! Program

So, you build your business on referrals, eh? Then, wouldn’t it make sense to deepen those relationships for a much bigger win/win partnership?

When we ask where a company gets referrals, often we hear that they come both from clients and third-party referral partners. That’s great! Both are great sources of referrals. So here’s a question….when you think about strengthening those relationships for more or better referrals, will you deploy the same strategy for both?

Truth is, you shouldn’t. Each needs a different strategy. For clients, start with robust client service. When your clients are treated well and love their experience, they’ll make better referrers.

For third-party alliances, set clear expectations, create an open dialogue partnership, and be realistic about the depth of the partnership.

For now, let’s tackle third-party referral partnerships. We call these Channel Partners, because you both act as a channel to each other’s client bases. Don’t assume that just because you have alliances, all the work is done and you can just sit back, relax, and watch the referrals trickle in.

Like all good, long-term friendships, a Channel Partnership requires attention. Some friendships are mere acquaintances, very friendly and you’ll say ‘Hi’ when you see them. Some, however, are deeply connected, very trusted relationships where you both feel comfortable to be open, honest, and available. Friendships can run the spectrum of depth, and so do Channel Partners.

Here’s a quick guide to begin determining how deep your Channel Partner relationships run. If it’s not as strong as you’d like, there’s a simple 4-step process you can take to create more depth and get more intentional with them.

Take an honest look at the referral relationships you’ve got in your circle and determine where they fall on this pyramid. Keep in mind, you only need a few at Level 1 (Pre-sold) to build a long-term future pipeline of ideal clients. These take a bit of attention and focus to develop, so it’s not for everyone. These are the ones you’ll spend your best time with.

Level 1 (Pre-Sold) Channel Partners are those that…
• know exactly who your ideal clients are
• know to recognize when someone needs your services
• know how to introduce you and tee you up
• are open to feedback to improve their referrals to you
• can do all of the above so well, that when their clients call you, they are practically pre-sold

Want to know the 4-Step process for developing strong Channel Partners? Join one of our B2B Connect Advisory Peer Groups and work with other B2B service providers in developing your Level 1 Channel Partners. Or check our site for webinars and local networking specifically aimed at B2B networking and workshops.

Why work to get just one sale today, when you can create a 10-year pipeline of future ideal clients with just one Level 1 Channel Partner? Set a goal to deepen these partnerships and get more intentional and pro-active with each other. Your future business success will thank you.

For more information, contact Think BIG! Program, 512-686-3600.

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