First, you have to understand the value you provide to others. Then you need to be able to communicate that value effectively. To understand your value, first know the difference between price and value. Price is the dollar amount that you are charging customers. It’s a finite number. Value, on the other hand, is the relative worth or desirability of your product or service to the customer.
You have to ask yourself, what is it about your product or service that gives customers so much worth that when they exchange money for it they are getting so much more in value than what they’re paying for it? What is it about your service that customers would rather have the service than their money? There must be something you are doing that is providing great value. You should identify what those factors are and then communicate them to your customers, prospects, and partners.
You should especially watch out for your value proposition when you’re in a commodity-based business. Those can be very price-conscious businesses. But when you sell on low price, it is very hard to come out ahead. When you’re selling on price, you’re a commodity; you commoditize yourself. But when you sell on value, you’re a resource; you’re offering so much more. You have to offer value, and customers should be able to easily know what the value is that you are offering.
Build Relationships Everywhere
You must be building relationships constantly and consistently. All things being equal, people will choose to do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust. In order to get more customers, you have to meet new people. You have to develop relationships with those people to the point where they feel great about you and who you are—to where they want to see you succeed, they want to do business with you, they want to be a part of your business. You are developing what Bob calls an “army of personal walking ambassadors.”
A great tool to help building relationships today is social media. They are great ways to add value to people, but especially great ways to build a community. Using Facebook, Twitter, and a blog is not about talking at people. Those tools are there to build community. A great tip is to provide some advice, fun facts, start conversations—short posts that ask questions and get other people talking and participating. It’s about building a home base, a community.
Ask for Referrals Correctly
A lot of business owners ask for referrals, and constantly hear this response: “I can’t think of anybody right now—but when I do, I’ll call you!” That’s not what you want to hear, and if you ask for referrals correctly, you won’t. The difference between getting specific names when you ask for referrals and getting a general, “I’ll see who I come up with” is in the kind of language you use to ask for referrals. If you are offering great value and building strong relationships, you will get some reactive referrals, but you can really open things up by asking correctly.
The problem is that there’s a collage of names and faces that are constantly going through people’s minds. When you ask generally for referrals, it gets lost in the shuffle. There are so many names and faces floating out there that the person you are talking to likely can’t actually pull any one out! The trick is to help people funnel their world down into small groups of people that they can easily visualize. Instead of asking, “Who do you know?” you might ask who they know from one particular community group, from a recreational activity they enjoy—from any well-defined subset of all the people they know. That way you are setting people up for victory, setting them up to be able to come up with a name.
From there, if you’re offering great value, building strong relationships, and asking for referrals the right way, you’ll be able to ask for the introduction. Those are the keys to endless referrals.