The Secret Weapon!
Once you have identified past referral sources, you now have a profile of potential referral sources. Now it’s time to make a visit to their office or store. There is one secret strategy that will do more for your referral relationship program than anything else.
What is this powerful secret? Food. Yes, food. In particular, donuts, chocolates, pizza, lunch, candy, snacks, etc. Food is the international language that everyone understands! It’s the one thing that can gain the attention that you cannot get any other way. The reason is that feeding someone taps deep into the Law of Reciprocity, which says, “If you give me something, I give you something.” With food it goes deeper. It penetrates our most primitive makeup. If you feed me, I owe you the time of day. If you give me a treat, I owe you at least a couple minutes of time!
Remember the Five-Point Marketing Message from earlier? What a great time to share it—while they are partaking of the delicious brownies or candy you just brought! If you walk in with sales materials, what’s their posture? Busy! Too busy to talk. But if you walk in the door with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts, they will listen to every word you have to say! It’s amazing, and I have seen it work over and over again.
I first learned this from my wife, Denise. She’s in radio sales, and I noticed that she would take goodies to her clients. For example, she would take cinnamon rolls to them in the morning and milk and cookies in the afternoon. She even had a company that made custom chocolate bars and she had the client’s logo branded on the chocolate bar.
Just about every night she’s wrapping gifts for clients and people in her network. All of the closets in our house are jammed with gifts that don’t belong to anyone yet. She buys things as she sees them, then when there’s a need, the wrapping begins! I finally “got it” one hot summer morning when she was walking out the door to go to work with a laundry basket full of things for the pool—squirt guns, goggles, and flip-flops. “Where ya goin’ with that stuff?” I asked. “Oh, a lot of my clients have kids, so I’m bringing them stuff for the pool.” Hmmm…, I thought to myself.
I decided to try it out.
There was a large potential referral source that I had called on eleven times (yes, eleven times). I had nice brochures and a nice introduction, but I didn’t have the secret weapon. Every time I went into this place, I got the same response—a stiff arm came up along with, “We’re real happy with the people we’re using right now. Thanks for coming by.” But this time I went to the grocery store and bought a little box of chocolates for $2.99.
The Secret Weapon!
I walked in and a lady down the hall noticed me come in. I introduced myself and she responded with the same stiff arm answer. She obviously didn’t see the chocolates, so I said, “But I brought chocolates,” with a little smile on my face. You should have seen her body language change! She went from the stiff arm pose to standing in front of me holding the box of chocolates almost close to her heart. I could almost hear her thinking, Who is this nice man bringing me chocolates?! Within seven days, we began getting referrals from that company. And they became a consistent referral source for us from that point on.
One of my early members increased his business $30,000 per month by making Friday “Donut Day.” He and his wife loaded up the truck with branded boxes of donuts every week and set out to see as many referral sources and accounts as they could. I ran into him at a conference recently, and he told me it has continued to work so well that he now has other people delivering donuts on a regular basis. That is the case with us as well.
Another profitable “food” example comes from an auto repair shop called Freedom Automotive. My service company has a nice clean fleet of vehicles parked outside. Freedom Automotive obvi- ously noticed the fleet, and one morning a box of donuts and a little card from Freedom Automotive showed up at our office. The next week, another box of donuts. After about the fourth or fifth week, I saw my operations director walking down the hall with a fistful of donuts and Freedom’s card. He said, “We should at least give them a try.” (I mean after all, they might stop sending us donuts if we don’t, right?)
So we called Freedom, and they came to the office and gave us a presentation. They charged more than the shop we currently used. “Yeah, but the shop we use doesn’t even say thank you. They don’t care about us,” we argued to ourselves. In Freedom’s presentation, they showed us how following their maintenance plan would actually save us money. Who do you think we now use? Freedom Automotive. This took place about twenty years ago, and we still use them today. I know what you’re wondering, Do they still have donuts delivered? Yes, they still have donuts delivered.
Find out what your major accounts and your referral sources like and take it to them. If they like Dove bars, take Dove bars to them. If they like Starbucks chocolate-covered espresso beans, bring those along with you when you visit.
The $12,800 Chocolate Bar
Rick Jones, one of our coaches in my coaching company was with Dale Carnegie Institute for more than thirty-three years. He owned the Houston franchise for more than twenty of those years. My wife began to call on him to sell him radio advertising. The first time she called on him, she brought a huge custom chocolate bar with the institute’s logo on it.
Certainly impressed, he kept the conversation open about radio advertising and eventually invested $12,800 in radio advertising the first time around. Over the years Rick became a dear friend and one of my most valued mentors, and our coaching clients love him. He jokingly says the candy bar cost him twelve grand. But the real message here is how a chocolate bar, coupled with phenomenal business relationship building, ended up in a very special life-changing relationship.
We have all of our existing and potential referral sources on a route. Every month we deliver cookies, pies, cakes, or whatever. We have a number of other “food strategies” too. For example, we cook breakfast for referral sources, hold referral appreciation lunches, and more.
What if your referral sources aren’t local? I use a program called Send Out Cards. Send Out Cards will send a custom greeting card through the mail for you. Along with the card, you can send cookies, brownies, and many other gourmet food items. Their brownies are legendary! You will need a sponsor for Send Out Cards. Check with the person who gave you this book. If they are a distributor they can help you. If not, contact Phenomenal Products.
No matter what, Send Out Cards must be part of your relation- ship marketing process! I’ll talk more about Send Out Cards later.
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