Many years ago I was selling motivational seminars to the business market.
I had one client who attended the seminar and loved it. Over the next few months he personally paid for a dozen of his colleagues and friends to attend the same seminar.
This client was also in charge of a large business and he continued to recommend this motivational seminar for several years to many of the people he knew.
Singlehandedly this one client was responsible for a huge amount of sales and repeat business for me. He was a perfect example of what we call a 'Centre of Influence.' In other words, someone who can potentially influence a lot of other people about your products or services.
In any business there are usually a number of key centres of influence who could potentially recommend you to many of the people they know.
If you are an accountant a good centre of influence is often a legal professional.
If you are a personal fitness trainer a good centre of influence might be a local chiropractor.
And so on.
So how can you get some of these centres of influence to positively recommend your business?
Here are two steps that should help...
1: Focus on adding value first before you ask to be recommended.
Start by creating a list of 10-20 potential centres of influence for your business. However when you make contact with these people don't ask them to recommend your business.
Instead, 'add value' in some way.
Example: Let's say you are an accountant and would like to get recommended by a number of legal firms in your area. You might send a number of these legal firms a short letter that says something like this...
We haven't personally met, however I own a local accounting firm called XYZ Accountants. I meet regularly with a lot of interesting people. And I may be able to refer a potential new legal client to you every so often. Can you send me half a dozen of your business cards and let me know what type of person you are looking for in an ideal new legal client? I've enclosed a prepaid envelope you can use to send me your business cards. In the meantime, here is a copy of a short article that I noticed recently. It's about a legal practice that got a lot of new business with a novel marketing approach. I thought you might find this of interest. Kind regards. Your name.
Notice how you are adding value first without asking for anything in return. This is a powerful way to begin a potential new relationship.
2: Stay in touch at least once a month and 'add value' each time you make contact.
My favourite way of doing this is to send out something hard copy each month by 'snail mail'. It could be a positive article you noticed. It might be information that could be useful for the person you are sending it to. If you need some ideas on what to send, I've put together a short list of 21 different ways you could add value when you make contact with centres of influence.
Email using the link at the end of this article for a free copy. Just put 'Add Value 21'in the subject line.
Within 3-6 months of doing this you will notice that a number of these people will start to ask for further information about what you do. And referrals will begin to flow.
It takes a bit of time, patience and effort to develop a good relationship with centres of influence. However it is well worthwhile doing.
'One right and honest definition of business is mutual helpfulness'.
Action Exercise: Write down the names of 10-20 businesses that could potentially be a good centre of influence for your products and services. Make contact once a month with these businesses in a low key way that adds high value.
Graham McGregor is a marketing consultant and the creator of the 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage Report.' www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com (This is free and has now been read by business owners from 27 countries.) You can email him at the link above.