The Power of Collaboration and Referrals




When is a referral not a referral? When it’s a lead.

I’ve posted recently about the strength of collaborative relationships but perhaps the biggest plus of a collaborative relationship is the potential for new opportunities and business growth. If you ensure that you manage relationships correctly as a sole trader or small business, with those people you collaborate with, then the result can be a significant increase in your work.

When you start out its just you. You tell people and hope that advocates like friends and family will help to spread the word. Eventually you start collaborating with others. Once you have these relationships it’s almost like you’ve doubled your sales force.

What makes a good collaborative partner for sales?

In my opinion you can’t just refer anyone. For me it has been important to differentiate between what is a referral and what constitutes an introduction. A referral is more of a recommendation where you vouch for the quality of someone’s work, whereas an introduction almost comes with the caveat that you cannot vouch for the quality. Why? Ultimately you reputation can be impacted through association. The people you refer are an extension of your judgement.

The Three Steps to Collaborative Referrals

There is nothing better than having collaborators who you are happy to refer. What is important and quickly becomes evident is that the relationship works in two ways, you refer work back. Only then will this become a powerful thing. However there are three other steps to working with collaborative referral sources:

Step 1: Know your partner – does this person have the right skills and attributes to make them a credible referee. Ask yourself would you employ them as a sales person?

Step 2: Clarify a Good referral – do you understand who your collaborative partner is looking to work with? Do you come across such clients? Are you both going to capably recommend each other within your own networks to the right people?

Step 3: Ask about the referral – especially if it’s from someone that doesn’t normally collaborate with you it’s important you understand what the expectations are from the potential client. What has your referral source recommended? You don’t want to sail blind. You want to make sure that what has been suggested can be delivered.

Referrals lead to a six times higher chance of doing business. The more referrals we get the better. If you are serious about the services you deliver though you want to make sure it’s the right work. By establishing great relationships with your collaborative partners everyone will understand how to spread your message.

I’m Paul Aisthorpe, collaborator, business growth coach, leadership and employee engagement specialist. Please get in touch for more details.