Referrals: 8-Steps to get Customer-Friends to Help

by Chris Arlen on October 31, 2012

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Referrals from Customer-FriendsAsking for referrals from a customer can feel like an imposition, even if the customer is a friend. But referrals can be guilt-free when you do the heavy lifting for them.

Here’s an  8-step process where the customer is a friend and they’re on LinkedIn (both must apply). And because I’m feeling generous today, there are examples of emails at the bottom of this post – but you’ll want to read about the process first. So read on.

#1) Find Targeted Connections

On LinkedIn, go to your customer-friend’s connections and review them all, not just the ones you have in common.

Look for their connections who work in companies you’ve targeted in your sales plan.

#2) Use Folders to Organize

Create a folder in LinkedIn’s Profile Organizer, which requires a paid subscription. Name the folder after your customer-friend for easy identification.

#3) Add Connections to Folders

For each of their connections you’d like a referral to, add them into the named folder.

#4) Determine Strength of Referral

Call your customer-friend and ask them how well they know the connections you’ve identified. You want to find out how much weight their referral will have, or if they don’t really know that connection.

Remember, your customer-friend can have many LinkedIn connections they don’t know, which is the reason LIONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) can be frustrating.

Tell them there are three ways you’d like them to help you get referrals, and what you’ll be doing for each. Here are the three:

#4.1 EMAIL I to strong relationships with connections that buy what you sell
#4.2 EMAIL II to strong relationships with connections that don’t buy what you sell but can refer you to others
#4.3 LinkedIn introduction to connections with weak or no relationships

#4.1 EMAIL I to strong relationships with connections that buy what you sell

Your customer-friend knows these connections well and the connections buy what you sell.

Ask your customer-friend to email these connections directly – not from within LinkedIn. A message from your customer-friend’s business email can have more credibility than a message within LinkedIn.

To make it easy on your customer-friend, tell them you’ll draft the email for them. Tell them you hope they revise the email to fit their writing style and personality. But you’ll do the heavy lifting in advance.

For an email example, see MESSAGE TEXT at the bottom of this post.

#4.2 EMAIL II to strong relationships with connections that don’t buy what you sell but can refer you to others

Ask your customer-friend to email the connection directly (not LinkedIn) but with a different message. You’ll provide a draft that spells out you’d like to talk with, and/or meet their connections seeking referrals.

For an email example, see MESSAGE TEXT at the bottom of this post.

#4.3 LinkedIn introduction to connections with weak or no relationships

Ask your customer-friend to accept your LinkedIn introduction to those connections where they don’t really know the connections well enough to help you.

Here, the best you can hope for is to begin a direct dialog on LinkedIn (see LinkedIn Introductions are Prospecting Bliss).

For a LinkedIn request example, see MESSAGE TEXT at the bottom of this post.

#5) Determine Best of 3 Approaches

During the call, ask your customer-friend which of the three approaches works best for them when they contact connections on your behalf.

Add a note to yourself in the LinkedIn profile of each connection indicating which of the three approaches you’ll follow.

#6) Customer-Friend sends out Emails

For those connections your customer-friend has strong relationships, draft and send the emails to your customer-friend. Now, it’s in their court to send them to their connections.

#7) Connect through LinkedIn

For those connections your customer-friend doesn’t know well, go to your Profile Organizer in LinkedIn. Open each note in your named folder to identify who you’ll use LinkedIn introductions for, see #4.3 above.

Time to hit up your customer-friend, this time through LinkedIn. Follow LinkedIn’s process for requesting an introduction (your number of outstanding introductions is determined by your subscription). Be sure to select your customer-friend as the person who’re requesting the introduction from.

Once you’re at the message part, copy your message text into the request and send it off.

#8) Thank Them

Take your customer-friend to lunch, or buy them coffee, or find another way to thank them for putting their trust into action. Remember, they’ve put their personal reputation on the line to help you. That’s pretty cool.

Conclusion

Customer-friends who use LinkedIn are heaven sent because they like you personally, respect you professionally and you can find out who they might refer you to.

And they want to help you – if it’s easy. So make it happen. Do the up front work and get customer-friends to help you get lots of quality referrals.

After all, what are customer-friends for?

Don’t forget, the message examples (emails and LinkedIn) are below.


MESSAGE TEXT EXAMPLES

The following examples are like a Russian doll with two parts, they’re a message within a message.

The first message instructs your customer-friend what to do. The second message is the text your customer-friend will send to their connections.

#4.1 EMAIL I to strong relationships with connections that buy what you sell

All the text in blue and green below is to be included in the email to your customer-friend.

[Customer-Friend Name]

From our conversation last week, I’ve written an email message below. Please change it for content and to fit your writing style (it’s very flattering to me of course). Please include me in the cc: of the emails you send, it’ll help keep me informed.

Here’s your connections I’d like you to send it to:

  • [Connection’s Name, COMPANY]
  • [Connection’s Name, COMPANY]
  • [Connection’s Name, COMPANY]

>>>START MESSAGE TO SEND TO CONNECTIONS>>>

[Connection’s Name]

Hope you’re well and work is good, or at least as good as can be expected.

And that’s the reason for this email.

Like you do for your firm, we do good work and make valuable contributions for our company –  but it’s not enough, execs and stakeholders need to know about them.

We found that a challenge, as we’re great at the work but wanted more recognition of that fact.

To that end I’d like to introduce a consultant who’s helped us; Chris Arlen of Revenue-IQ.

For the last three years he’s worked with us on sales proposals, presentations, business planning, and creating our messaging platform.

He’s helped our department get seen for the valuable things we do. We were already doing them but now we’re getting full credit for them.

If that would help you in your org, contact Chris directly. Here’s his info:

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ
206-780-2963
[email protected]

And when you’ve some free time, please give me a call, would love to get caught up on what you’ve been doing.

Take care.

[Your customer-friend’s Name]

>>>END MESSAGE TO SEND TO CONNECTIONS>>>

Thanks very much for this. I’ll let you know who contacts me.

Talk with you soon.

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ

#4.2 EMAIL II to strong relationships with connections that don’t buy what you sell but can refer you to others

All the text in blue and green below is to be included in the email to your customer-friend.

[Customer-Friend Name]

Here’s the email message I’ve written for your connections who can’t hire me but may refer me to others. Please change it for content and to fit your writing style. Also, please include me in the cc: of the emails you send.

Here’s your connections I’d like you to send it to:

  • [Connection’s Name, COMPANY]
  • [Connection’s Name, COMPANY]
  • [Connection’s Name, COMPANY]

>>>START MESSAGE TO SEND TO CONNECTIONS>>>

[Connection’s Name]

Hope you’re well and work is good, or at least as good as can be expected.

I’d like to introduce a consultant who’s worked with us for the last three years; Chris Arlen of Revenue-IQ.

He’s helped us with sales proposals, presentations, business planning, and creating our messaging platform.

It may be worth a call for you to talk with Chris and see if you can help each other. Here’s his info:

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ
206-780-2963
[email protected]

And when you’ve some free time, please give me a call, would love to get caught up on what you’ve been doing.

Take care.

[Your customer-friend’s Name]

>>>END MESSAGE TO SEND TO CONNECTIONS>>>

I’ll let you know who contacts me. Really appreciate your help.

Cheers,

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ

#4.3 LinkedIn introduction to connections with weak or no relationships

Here’s an example message to use when requesting an introduction through LinkedIn. Revise it to make it yours. For a step-by-step, how-to, read LinkedIn Introductions are Prospecting Bliss.

>>>START LINKEDIN INTRODUCTION MESSAGE>>>

[Your customer-friend’s Name]

Would appreciate an introduction to [Connection’s Name] to see if we might help [Targeted Company] with [their problem you solve].

Similar to our work with you and [Your customer-friend’s Company] for the last few years, such as [list several services and/or results you’ve provided].

Thanks again.

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ
206-780-2963
[email protected]

>>>END LINKEDIN INTRODUCTION MESSAGE>>>

Unlike the emails, you don’t have to add anything at the end. This is the message LinkedIn sends to the connection once your customer-friend has approved it.

 

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