I think it’s no longer enough to settle for referred leads. We want introductions or connections to our new prospects. With referred leads, you may emerge from an appointment with 10 names and phone numbers, and not set a single appointment. But, if you emerge with three to four quality connections, you may set and sell all four.
In this article I’d like to give you examples of how your colleagues are using referral events to produce great quality introductions that result in new clients. I’m not talking about client appreciation events. I’m talking about referral events. There is a BIG difference. You host a client appreciation event to show your appreciation to your clients. That’s it. Nothing else. You don’t ask them to bring friends, etc. Doing that can diminish the appreciation value.
A referral event, on the other hand, is a very overt way of getting your clients to introduce you to others who might be interested in the work you do. While there is a client-appreciation component to this event, everything is above board. Your client knows you are hosting a fun event (ideas to follow) for the purpose of meeting potential prospects.
If you’ve been following my system for any time at all, you know I teach a client-centered approach to referrals. We don’t ask for referrals based on “how I get paid” or in an effort to help us build our business. We ask for referrals as a way to bring our important work to others. The same holds true for referral events. When you invite your clients to bring guests to your events, do it from the perspective of bringing your important work to others.
Here’s a sample conversation that should make this clear:
YOU: Bob, I’m calling today because I wanted to let you know about a fun event I’m planning for my clients and their guests. We’ve reserved a special room at Chez Fancy and we’re calling it a “Chef’s Table.” The chef of Chez Fancy has agreed to come out of the kitchen and talk to us about the meals he and his staff will be preparing for us and then talk with us several other times during the meal. Those who wish to take a brief tour of the kitchen will be welcome to do so. It should be a pretty special event, don’t you think?
BOB: My wife would love this… and so would I for that matter. How do I sign up?
YOU: Well, here’s the deal. What I’m trying to accomplish with this event is two-fold. First, I want to treat some of my select clients to a very special evening. And second, I want to get introduced to people who are not yet clients, but should probably know about the work I do. It’s going to be a low-key event. No sales pitch. It’s just a way for meet some new people – and them to meet me – in a social setting. Does that make sense?
BOB: So you want me to bring a guest – a couple I assume – who might enjoy the event and also want to meet you?
YOU: That’s it. Is this something you and Helen Ann would like to do? If so, who do you think you should invite?
It’s as simple as that. While you can print up nice invitations to this event, you’ll have more success if you also speak to your clients over the phone. If you’re inviting your “A” clients, don’t delegate this phone call to an assistant!