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Turn Referral Partners Into Cash Cows

Turn Referral Partners Into Cash Cows

Paul McCord

From a salesperson for an IT service company: “I often find additional needs the client has and when I do, if he (the person who referred him to the client) sells that product, I’ll send the business to him. I’ll be a source for additional sales for him to his client.”

• From a specialized printing salesperson: “My referral sources are also in the printing business. Their clients will on occasion need some things done that they can’t do and that I can. My appeal to them is that by referring the business to me, they are assured that I’ll talk up just how good they are and it keeps their client from going to another company that might be able to not only do what I do but might be able to replace them as well.”

From a pool builder sales rep: “I target residential remodelers who do a lot of extensive remodeling. My company isn’t the cheapest but it is very competitively priced and if they refer their client, we’ll give their client a 10% discount. We make them look good because their client not only gets a high quality company, but they save a lot of money too.”

The Good, The Bad, & The Funny


In each of these cases (and these responses are the norm, not the exception), the reason given for the referral source to send them referrals is that they are doing the referral source a favor! “I’ll talk them up,” or “I’ll close the loan on time,” or “I won’t try to steal her business,” or “I’ll make them look good.” The worst part is these salespeople are serious when they make these statements.

Like I said, these referral sources get nothing out of the deal. Why do they need these salespeople? A promise of making them look good, or not trying to steal their business, or closing the loan on time is a dime a dozen. Actually, they’re more like a penny a hundred. There isn’t a mortgage loan officer, IT salesperson, pool builder, or printing salesperson alive that isn’t likely to make the same promise. If you think you’re doing your referral source a favor and that is going to earn you their business, you’re in for a surprise.

The first rule in developing referral business from others is that they don’t need you. They don’t need your promises; they don’t need you to make them look good; they don’t need you messin’ with their clients.

The second rule in developing referral business from others is they need business too. They need referrals to quality prospects, just like you do.

The ‘secret’ the top producers have discovered when getting referrals from other salespeople and companies is to forget about ‘referral sources’ and develop referral partnerships—real partnerships where the referrals go in both directions, not jut one.

Salespeople and companies need the same thing you need—business. If they need someone to make them look good or to help one of their clients, they have no problem finding dozens of salespeople willing to help. What they need are reciprocal relationships where the people they refer clients to also refer prospects back to them. They need partners, not moochers. And if you’re not giving back in kind, that’s exactly what you are—a moocher.