If referrals are golden, then multiple referrals are platinum! As you become established, cultivating referrals should be a high priority.
Here is a personal example, just published in Million Dollar Referrals, the latest book by Alan Weiss. When asked for examples of “greatest referrals” earlier this year, I responded with the following story. It is an honor to be included in his new book (pp 126-127.)
My Greatest Referral…
While not the greatest financial referral, this was kind of fun. Not one, but multiple referrals, that had the client clamoring to do business with us. No need to sell this one — the client was so hot to buy he was sizzling.
First, some brief background information. We are electrical engineers who specialize in a very narrow niche, electromagnetic interference and compatibility (EMI/EMC). For the non-technical, we are the “ghost busters” of the electronics industry.
Our clients often call us when they are in pain. Something is broken, or they have failed a critical test that prevents shipping their product. Expensive either way, and they need help fast. But they do want to make sure whoever they call can solve the problem and not make it worse.
So a typical first step is to ask others for recommendations. This is exactly what our client, a young engineer recently out of school, decided to do. His boss told him to check around, so he first called a favorite college professor to ask if he knew anyone that could help. The first referral: “Call Kimmel Gerke Associates.“
Not knowing who we were, he decided to get a second opinion. He called another college professor who had just written an article on EMI/EMC. The second referral: “Call Kimmel Gerke Associates.”
The professor also mentioned a nearby EMI/EMC test laboratory. So he decided to call them too. The third referral: “Call Kimmel Gerke Associates.”
The next phone call was to us. He said, “Look, I’m a new engineer and I don’t know who you are. But every time I call someone, the tell me to call Kimmel Gerke Associates. Either you guys are good, or you have been paying everyone off. Either way, I need help!”
After a brief discussion, it was obvious we could help. So we set up a meeting, reviewed his design, made recommendations, and accompanied him to a test lab to validate the fixes. After the consultation, we knew that if anyone asked him for a referral, he would say: “Call Kimmel Gerke Associates!”
The multiple referrals were the result of what Alan Weiss calls marketing gravity. Thanks to our multiple marketing efforts, the first referral knew us from technical articles we had written. The second referral knew us from our professional society activities. And the third referral knew us from collaborating on several projects.
We’ve seen this happen a number of times. As engineers, we refer to this as an exponential multiplier. That is, if one referral doubles your chance of success, a second one quadruples it, and a third one drives it up by a factor of eight. Call it gravity or call it exponential, multiple referrals really work!
Million Dollar Referrals, by Alan Weiss, PhD. McGraw Hill, 2012. ISBN 978-0-07-176927-3. The latest in Dr. Weiss’s series of over 30 books on consulting. Recommended reading for both new and established consultants.
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