Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Using Referral Gifts to Grow Your Business (Part 1 of 3)

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. ~John E. Southard

This is a guest article written by me, Jack Bergstrom, for my friends over at BookCliff Vineyards. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ulla and John, the owners, since they started the award winning vineyard and I have known and liked Justin since I first met him in April of 2007. I am a Executive Coach, a Business Consultant, a Seminar Leader and an Author. This is the first in a series of 3 articles about using referral gifts to grow your business. For more tips and techniques on working less, achieving more and having a blast along the way, check out my blog at Hope to see you there!

I love doing business by referral. I love for past clients to send me my newest clients. Since I am selective and work only with people that I like, and people tend to associate with people like themselves, I am continually presented with the marvelous opportunity of working with people that already know something about me, already know most of the benefits of working with me and are at least somewhat presold on the value proposition that I represent. This is a wonderful way to do business. Now not every business can attract all of their customers this way, but the more customers that you get by referral the happier and more profitable you will be. Given that, I thought I would take a few entries here on my blog and talk a bit about using gifts to help grow your referral business.

This is a topic that is perennially hotly debated. I know business people that have an absolute "no gift" policy. I know business people that have informal policies about gifts and evaluate each client separately. I know business people that make explicit and well structured "referral programs" a major part of their new client acquisition plans. These "referral programs", I believe, are worth a series of articles of their own and really are no longer in the "Gift" category. We will talk about structured programs another time.

For today, let's start to look at gifts, the idea of rewarding people for sending you clients. Let me start by saying that at the simplest level, you should reward everyone that sends you business in this way: Be grateful! Thank them! Thank them lavishly! Let them know with a note, a card, a phone call or all of the above! If someone has gone out of their way, and put their own reputation on the line, to recommend me and my services, then I am going to be grateful...genuinely grateful! It doesn't happen that often. As good as I am, I know that the vast majority of my current and past clients do not wake up in the morning with a burning desire to see who they can refer to Jack today. It would be great, but it just doesn't often happen that I have quite that level of top of mind awareness. Indeed, I would be concerned if I did! So, at the simplest, and yet most profound level, be grateful and thankful! Thank them!

Now, going to the next level about gifts. Do I recommend using gifts and I do I use them myself? Yes and Yes. I do and I do! The trick is in knowing what kinds of gifts will give you the best return on your dollar and of course, the most satisfaction. I love to give people gifts! It's a hoot! Tomorrow we will talk more about thoughtful and effective gift selection and for those of you with a strict "no referral gift" policy, prepare to be challenged!

Till next time...Jack

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. ~Chinese Proverb

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