10 Steps To Building a Great Referral Partnership

By refining how we think about partnerships, make connections and streamline the process, we can enable partners to happily refer us to qualified people.

In business, we’re looking to get our products and services to people who are looking for what we have to offer. The fastest way is not going door-to-door. Nope. It’s actually much simpler and much more straightforward. 

How can we get really good at building a referral partnership, or partnerships?

Simply, we can refine how we think about partnerships, make connections, and streamline the process. When we do this, we’ll anticipate and remove any roadblocks for partners to refer us to the people who want our products and services.

Curious about the master plan for success? 

Here are 10 steps to make it easy for people to happily refer you to qualified people.


1. Shift Your Mindset

One of the biggest obstacles to making connections is not out there in the world. It is not our current contacts. It is not our colleagues, friends, and associates. 

It is our mindset.

When we believe that asking for referrals is a ‘no-no’ or an indication of desperation, guess what happens? We won’t do it. 

When we believe that asking for referrals helps everyone – we will move forward.

I’ll be the first to admit, this is not a super simple shift. I didn’t really feel comfortable with this at first either. It takes practice. And it gets easier when you practice and have the personal experience of connecting people with qualified referrals.


2. Give First

This principle is true in life and it’s true in growing your referral partnerships. If you start with giving, you are modeling the behavior you’d like to practice. 

I didn’t get this initially. I thought it was kind of quirky. But when you give first, you set the wheels in motion. 

My first sales coach told me, “Think of it as priming a pump. The person you give to may or may not respond in kind. That’s not the point. The point is you are giving. You are showing that you enjoy giving, enjoy connecting people, and enjoy building a strong network.”

That was many years ago. He was so right. You don’t know exactly where your generosity will return. Somewhere along the line, it will come back. Someone along the way will respond to your generous spirit. Some connection will lead to another. 


3. Make It Easy

Let’s face it. Everyone is busy. 

Just about everyone in your network has more to do than there are hours in the day. Yet…you can make their life easier. You can help them by providing the information that you’d like them to share with a potential referral—so they don’t have to do any extra time-consuming work.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to anticipate what they may need to think about. If they can forward your email directly, you will have made their job that much easier.


4. Share Your Initial Ideas

Your first goal is to connect with your potential referral partner. Let them know what you’re planning to do. It can be challenging to share early ideas, as they are often in a rough form. But, it pays off because you also will get early feedback. 

You’ll find out what your partner needs so you won’t be cooking up this plan in the dark. Make the effort and share your thoughts with your referral partner.


5. Be A Fountain of Value

As you discuss how to go forward, explore what your referral partner would find valuable. From your experience in sales, you know that this varies from individual to individual, and from company to company.

By discussing your goals, and asking key questions, you’ll discover what they would find valuable. It’s hard to be a fountain of value if you don’t know what matters most to your potential partner.


6. Share Procedural Steps

You may not have all the details nailed down, but you can always share the process. Let partners know your plan for procedure. Share the steps you have in mind – whether it’s in a list, a set of bullet points, a timeline, or a schedule.  Get confirmation of the plan and their agreement to participate. 

This can be done with a phone call, Zoom meeting, or email. Some people like to share a visual timeline, to get on the same page. By sharing procedural steps, you’re building trust in the process – and the outcome. 


7. Design a Move Forward Email

You already know that your first-tier referrer is a busy professional. That’s why designing an email they can forward is smart. It is a practical way to begin with the ‘end in mind.’

By designing an email, all they have to do is write a one-liner when they forward it. 

This is a whole lot easier and less time consuming than asking them to create an entire email describing you, your company, and your value proposition.


8. Share Your Ideal Prospects

It’s oddly easy to get lost in our own worlds. When we do this, we forget the basics – as in, sharing your definition of an ideal prospect.

Your definition of an ideal customer is unique to you, your product and service, and your business goals. When you share this, your referral partner gets a crystal clear idea of who will be your best, most qualified prospect.


9. Refine Your Email Based On Performance

In addition, to following up in a timely basis with your referrer and your new prospect, take time to refine the email template you’re using. This is an ongoing piece of work. 

You and your partner may discover that one line or two is exceptionally effective. You may realize that new opportunities are possible, and a slightly different slant will convey this. Over time, you’ll work together to encapsulate all the key information into one, easy-to-forward email.

Ultimately this can be encapsulated into a format or template, so that what works for one referral can work for others. This is something you can start today, and then continue to refine—together.


10. Stay Connected

Discuss your goals, strategy, and process with your referral partner. You may have differing ideas of how often to stay in contact. By keeping the dialogue alive, you’ll be able to stay in sync with how often to meet, how to mange expectations, and how to create the greatest value for your referral partnership.


Sum Up

Building a great referral partnership requires attention, focus, and ongoing interaction.

By understanding the steps for success, you can strengthen your relationships and grow your network organically.

Starting with a collaborative mindset, you can join successful businesses that are shaping the market and realizing significant revenue potential. Partnership Co-Selling is how you can virtually qualify B2B sales opportunity. You can use this to boost sales, expand your network, and grow profitability.

Using a platform like CoSell is the simplest way to get your sales team on board. CoSell is a robust platform that makes it easy and fast to automate and scale collaborative co-selling across sales teams. 

If you’d like to explore how partnership co-selling can help you and your team boost sales and win major clients fast - check out our selection of free eBooks.

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