It was a great week. I had 5 quality C-level meetings with potential new customers and partners for Amplifinity in the short week before a holiday. The opportunity to meet with current and prospective customers is my favorite part about being a CEO. As I reflected back on the week and what made it a success, a common thread emerged, REFERRAL – Everyone I met with was introduced to me by someone who knew me and my company and wanted to help. Interestingly, while they were all referrals, each one emanated from a different type of relationship. My objective with this blog post is to help you think about the foundation of relationships you have in your network and how they can be leveraged to help you generate new business opportunities.
1. A current customer referred me to a new prospect:
I was having a conversation with an executive at one of my largest accounts. She mentioned how pleased she was with our solution. After thanking her for the feedback, I used the opening to ask her if she knew anyone who would benefit from our product. Note that the “ask” came as a natural part of the conversation. It wasn’t forced and was not perceived as bothersome. In my experience I’ve found this request actually improves my relationship with a customer. If they respect what you’ve done for them, they want to see you succeed, and by giving you an introduction to someone else, they are now invested in your success. By the way, don’t be surprised if they follow-up with you to see how it went. And better yet, follow up and let them know how the meeting went. They will appreciate it–and they may even provide you with another referral (double bonus!)
2. A current customer referred me to a new opportunity within their own company:
According to Nielsen, 92% of respondents trusted referrals from people they knew. If you are working with enterprise level customers or prospects there are often many potential new prospects inside that same customer waiting to hear your value proposition. Think of these as “buying centers”–separate groups within a company that represent a new sales opportunity for you or one of your peers. Large companies are siloed, so the chances of cross-selling or upselling are high because different departments have different needs to be met. If you are referred to a new prospect from someone within their same company, your odds of getting a meeting are very high and you have a built in reference.
3. A board member referred me to an executive at another company:
In my role as CEO, I’m fortunate to work with a terrific board of directors. Each is a high profile business leader in their own right and is very connected. Even if you don’t report to a board, executives within your company can provide the same conduit to meet other decision makers in different companies. I find this works best if I can be specific and have a company in mind where I know they may have a relationship.
4. A current prospect referred me to another prospect:
I admit this doesn’t happen often, but it recently did for me. I didn’t even ask. I was offering a prospect some helpful advice unrelated to my company business (I essentially referred her to someone who could help) and unprompted, the prospect sent me an email later that said he knew of someone that could really use our solution. Awesome. I think most of us are naturally wired to help others. Help others succeed, and you’ll often get rewarded in return.
5. A current partner referred me to another new prospect:
Growing our partner network has been key to our success at Amplifinity. Successful SaaS companies invest in becoming connecting to partners within their ecosystem in order to extend their overall value proposition. At Amplifinity, being a member of the Salesforce ecosystem has added tremendous value to our business. We are now part of a large and ever growing community of hundreds of other SaaS companies that share common interests and goals. That very same ecosystem is also a naturally interconnected network that can help you find new business or potentially use your product or service.
I encourage you to make that leap to adopt referrals as a business strategy. If you do, you’ll quickly see that systematizing it with a referral automation platform can be a very powerful channel for organic growth for your business.
If you’d had success using referrals in your business, send me an email with your story. I’d love to repost it here on the Amplifinity blog so that others can benefit.
Care to further the discussion? Tweet me @Larryangeli