Friday, January 7, 2011

How Persistent Should I be with Referral Prospects?

This issue of this blog is my response to a question from one of our readers. Teach me a bit about how frequently to call referral prospects when they don't immediately return my calls. Daily seems too much. Twice a week seems to be a question. Weekly seems to take too long to get with people?

Introductions vs. Referred Leads
The days of "referred leads" are pretty much over. Getting names and phone numbers of prospects without getting introduced in some way just isn't effective anymore. So, it's always important that we work from introductions these days. We want our referral sources creating connections for us. When the referral source sends an email or leaves a voice mail - letting the prospect know why we're calling and why they should take our call puts us in a much better position to have our prospect return our correspondence. 

Being Professional Persistence vs. Being a Pest
How you handle contacting the referral prospect is critical if you want to get more referrals from your referral source. Treat this persistence process very carefully. If you are perceived as a pest by the new prospect, that will get communicated to the referral source. The result will be no more referrals from that source.
Because of this, handle your referral prospects with great care. When calling a referral prospect - hopefully who knows you'll be calling - leave a voice mail or email, then wait a week. Then once more. If you have both email and voice mail - send the email first and then leave a voice mail. If a week after the second message you have still not heard back, call the referral source! Let them know what you've done so far and say something like, "George, I wanted you to know that I've attempted to reach your sister a couple of times. I sent an email and left a voice mail. Obviously, I don't want to be a pest. What do you suggest we do next?"
I purposely use the word "we" above. Getting referrals and getting connected to your prospects is a collaborative effort with your referral source. Why? Because you both believe in the work you do and because that's what it takes to get the prospect's attention these days.

Following up Email Introductions

Personally, I'm getting most of my introductions via email and I love it. I send the new prospect an email saying, "I would like to present myself as a resource for you. Can we set up a brief phone call to get the conversation started?" I always use the name of the referral source in my subject line for the first one or two emails to the new prospect, so they open my email.
Also, keep the referral source in the loop every step along the way. Let them know when you speak to the prospect. Let them know if/when you meet. If the prospect becomes a client, get permission from the client to share the good news with the referral source. And, again, if you're having trouble reaching the prospect, let the source know sooner than later. Sometimes the referral source will come to your aid and help create a better connection.
If this introduction falls through the cracks, bring it up the next time you meet with your referral source. You may be able to revive it. Also, this client and prospect may be good candidates to bring to a marketing event.






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