“Don’t Make the #1 Mistake that Kills Most Referral Relationships and Power Teams Before They Ever Start!

January 22, 2013

By Lee Abraham

We’ve all heard the cliché, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”

deal with the devilWhether we like them or not, a cliché stands the test of time because it is an expression of truth.  Sometimes the truth is obvious, other times it is elusive and counter-intuitive.

In business networking, the “good intentions” cliché applies to referral relationships, and is particularly meaningful in the formation of a Power Team.

Typically, Power Teams are formed by a group of people, usually from the same industry group, who have the best of intentions. After all, they like and trust and each other, and want to help build each other’s business. Based on the idea that they often work for clients who could be cooperatively passed back and forth as non-competing referrals, the Power Team partners get together to brainstorm and make a commitment to help each other make more money.

What could be wrong with that?

In the beginning, there’s nothing wrong in gathering with like-minded individuals who want to help each other. The problem arises when the initial excitement wears off and the commitments made fail to materialize into results because there is no plan in place to transform the group’s good intentions into action.

Two Critical Steps

In their eagerness to pass business back and forth, Power Teams invariably repeat the #1 mistake that kills most referral relationships before they ever start by skipping over two critical steps in what my research has shown to be the “4 Stages of Power Team Development.”

money stairsI’ll cut to the chase. The first step to building successful referral relationships is to prepare yourself to go out and train your referral partners, or “Bragging Buddies,” to create high quality referrals for you.

During this first stage of Power Team “Boot Camp,” you should have two goals: to simplify the description of your targeted prospects, making it easier for your Bragging Buddy to recognize referral opportunities for you, and to clarify your message of why you and your product or service are special, which empowers your Bragging Buddy give more compelling testimonials about you.

Once you’ve completed boot camp, you’re ready for stage two, training your Bragging Buddy to recognize opportunity and give compelling testimonials. After all, what good is a referral partner who is excited and full of good intentions, but doesn’t know what to look for or what to say?

The Rest of the Story

With steps one and two in place, a group of properly trained Bragging Buddies are now ready for stage 3, getting together as Power Team Pioneers, excited and prepared to transform their collective good intentions into action as Power Team.

Makes sense, right? Lacking a clear roadmap to follow, the vast majority of Power Teams not only skip over stage one and two, they fumble through stage three as Power Team Pioneers and sadly, have no idea about stage four as an Advanced Power Team.

In the end, even the best of intentions unfortunately fade away, leaving only frustration, disappointment, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and worst of all, a huge stack of money on the table.

Want to fulfill your hopes and dreams? Visit www.moneyonthetablebook.com and learn how to claim your money on the table with an easy-to-follow Power Team Roadmap™!


Wag More, Bark Less & Refer Often: The Pet Lovers Power Team!

September 2, 2012

by Lee Abraham

People who love pets are a special breed. For many animal lovers, their dog, cat, bird, fish or horse is like a child, something very near and dear to their heart to be nurtured, protected and appreciated.

As a result, pet lovers are often:  

  • Purchasing products and services from pet themed specialty vendors
  • Attending pet themed events
  • Reading pet themed websites and magazines
  • Easily recognized in public

Animal House

A huge market of “animal lover” consumers with motherly or fatherly emotions and spending habits toward their pets and a vast assortment of products and services from pet themed specialty vendors create a huge opportunity to leverage a Pet Lovers Power Team!

Dog & Pony Show

Here are 10 business categories with relevant products and services for pet lovers:

  1. Pet Sitter
  2. Pet Groomer
  3. Pet Trainer
  4. Pet Food
  5. Veterinarian
  6. Pet Supplements & Medications
  7. Pet Supplies
  8. Pet Therapy/Chiropractic
  9. Pet Boarding
  10. Pet Portraits

Beyond Pet Products: Share the Love

As a group, the 10 businesses listed have multiple opportunities to systematically promote each other’s pet themed products and services to create an ongoing stream of referrals.

Further, the Pet Lovers Power Team can also promote networking partners in non-related business categories but who also love pets, such as a realtor, personal trainer, event planner, business coach, or automobile mechanic. With systematic and relevant promotion by a trusted vendor from the Pet Lovers Power Team, these non-related, but pet friendly businesses will also enjoy an ongoing stream of referrals. 

Do you love animals? Learn to wag more, bark less and refer often with the Pet Lovers Power Team! 

 


Bragging Buddy Selection and the 5 Deal Breakers

August 7, 2012

by Lee Abraham

As a Bragging Buddy it’s your job to help a prospect like, trust and want to do business with your Power Team. And in turn, it’s your Power Team partners’ job to be your Bragging Buddy.

Bragging Buddies don’t just magically appear. Successfully creating an ongoing stream of high quality referrals is the result of learning about each other as a person, as well as a business, and systematically implementing proactive referral creation activities that work.

Relationship Marketing

Regardless of the system or strategy, the driving force in any referral relationship is the relationship itself. With Bragging Buddies, the relationship must go beyond a solid foundation of someone you like, trust and whose product or service you feel good about promoting, to whether or not your networking partner is teachable and ultimately going to proactively and systematically reciprocate your referral creation activities.

All of these elements are deal breakers. Miss one and your results will suffer.

5 Deal Breakers

Being teachable and accountable for reciprocating your referral creation activity expands the scope of a Bragging Buddy relationship beyond typical expectations of a networking partner.

Your results depend on choosing the right person before investing your time and energy into building a Bragging Buddy relationship. To simplify the process of reviewing whether or not to approach a potential Bragging Buddy, ask yourself the following 5 questions.

  1. Like? Do I like this person and enjoy being around them?
  2. Trust? Do I trust this person and believe they will make me look good in the eyes of the consumer?
  3. Consumer Value? Do I believe this person’s product or service delivers a good value to the consumer?
  4. Teachable? Is this person teachable and interested in learning new tools and systems to take the guesswork out of referrals?
  5. Reciprocate? Will this person be accountable to reciprocate my efforts and take action by following a structured word-of-mouth referral system to proactively promote my business?

All answers must be “yes” before you can reasonably expect to maximize your Bragging Buddy success and Power Team networking!


Body Shops, Panel Beaters and the International Language of Referrals

February 7, 2012

Translating Money on the Table into the Local Lingo Helps More BNI Members Make More Money

by Lee Abraham
Money talks. No translation needed. Currency exchange, yes, but translation, no. Anywhere you go around the world, people know how to trade money for goods and services.

Same with referrals. Regardless of culture, folks in every continent on the planet prefer to do business by word-of-mouth with people they know, like and trust.

And just like each country has its own currency, words and phrases can be as unique as the local cuisine.

For example, in the USA, an automobile collision repair business is commonly known as a “Body Shop.” However in Australia, the locals send referrals for wrecked cars to the “Panel Beater.”

Universal Message, Local Lingo, Global Network

As a trainer, speaking the local language is critical if you want students to achieve maximum results. More than just words, images can also be tailored for familiarity and maximum impact.

As publisher of Money on the Table, Referrals in the Bank along with my co-author Dr. Ivan Misner, FAST180 Press works with BNI National and Executive Directors from across the country and around the world to customize training material for the benefit of their local BNI members. We see this as an essential role in effectively serving BNI’s global network. Not to mention very rewarding and a lot of fun!

Thanks in part to our “Personalized Foreword” program, where local leaders can contribute to the book and get their name on the front cover and local branding on the back, FAST180 Press is honored to report that Money on the Table is quickly becoming an international sensation!

Since its release less than a year ago, the book has been published with local flavor in Malaysia, Canada, the USA and now Australia!

Check out the latest version of the cover, featuring Australian currency and a personalized foreword by BNI Australia National Director Frederick Marcoux on the front, and BNI Australia branding on the back!

In addition to the obvious changes to the front and back cover, the Australian version of Money on the Table talks about “panel beaters” not “body shops” and many other local terms and phrases to help local members of BNI Australia learn how to create Power Teams and as a result, make more money.

Just listen to the scuttlebutt around the BNI coffee dripper… “Members Making More Money” sounds good in any language!

For more information about how you can create a Personalized Foreword version of Money on the Table, please visit: http://moneyonthetablebook.com/YOUR_Namer_on_the_Cover.html


Referral Party: Are You Going Formal or Business Casual?

June 8, 2011

Any seasoned sales pro knows word-of-mouth referrals are the platinum standard of lead generation. Why? Let’s start with higher closing ratios. Then we look at a low cost per lead which pencils to only a fraction of traditional marketing and advertising expenses. Combine the two for a lucrative income stream whether you are selling real estate, massage therapy or cleaning services.

Ask the grizzled marketer how they go about generating referrals and you’ll get one of three very different responses. Among the most popular:

 “I do a great job for my customers and they tell people about me.” Translation: I do not have a referral system. Hope is my strategy. Let’s call this the “business casual” approach.

Another common answer is any number of variations on  an old, and ill-advised theme, “I do a lot of networking and always tell people that I’m never too busy for their referrals.” Translation: You ask people for referrals and sometimes you get one. Sorry to say this is not networking. Without giving an abundance of relevant value first, asking for referrals spirals downward over time into a doomed campaign of begging for dollars. After a while, even your strongest supporters will get tired of hearing from you. My advice: adopt a Givers Gain® philosophy before you further damage your most valuable asset, relationships with people who like you and trust you.

Finally, less common but indicative of someone whose networking activities are aligned with generating referrals, “I belong to BNI” (or some other referral group), is the response of a professional networker.  If creating referrals was a party, this black-tie formal approach to word-of-mouth networking would be the hottest ticket in town.

Givers Gain®

Let’s start with the basics. Generating referrals for yourself begins with you finding and creating referrals for others. So that’s the first step to referral marketing – building or joining a network of referral partners who you like, trust and send referrals to.

Next is consistently making your network visible to its targeted prospects. Best results come from systematic use of simple but powerful tools like a business card organizer, network directory flyer and website, as well as social media to promote the products and services of your networking partners to your clients and sphere-of-influence.

Finally, a networking group that meets regularly creates more referrals that those that do not. Statistics show that once a week is the optimal frequency for a group meeting of networking partners who have made a commitment to actively participate in a reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationship to maximize referral results.

Time Crunch

Unfortunately however, most people do not have the scheduling flexibility to belong to an existing referral group with a regularly scheduled meeting, or the knowledge, resources and experience to create and run one on their own.

There is good news!

While a regularly scheduled meeting is the pinnacle of structured business networking, an individual “free agent” networker can create a more loosely structured semi-formal network and an abundance of referrals, both inbound and out, with systematic integration of an advanced power team process.

So here’s the question:If there is no meeting, what is the system? How does the network operate? Answer: There will be meetings, but they will NOT be regularly scheduled, ongoing meetings with the entire group.

You as the leader of your own free agent network will go to breakfast, lunch or coffee when you can with a few of your networking partners at a time to learn more about each others’ business and cross pollinate referral opportunities by discussing current projects, clients, haves/wants, etc.

Shift Activity from Meeting to Promoting

While the group meetings take a backseat based on scheduling, the primary focus shifts to systematic promotion and network visibility by all networking partners with a variety of tools, including: 

  • business card organizer
  • promotional information on contracts and paperwork
  • directory flyer
  • website
  • social media
  • email “signature”
  • voice mail message

The free agent network fits somewhere between an informal, unstructured, “I go to mixers and just sort of know a few people who send me referrals” approach and the professional commitment of belonging to a structured networking group with a regularly scheduled meeting.

 To clarify this concept, here are the three levels of referral marketing:

  1. Business Casual – No directory, no meetings
  2. Semi-formal – Directory of trusted vendors, irregular meetings
  3. Formal – Ongoing structured networking meeting

Whether you are already riding a wave of referrals from a structured networking group or an individual business person flopping around like a beached fish, frantically squirming to create referrals on your own, the secrets of free agent, semi-formal networking can dramatically improve your results. How? I will be happy to tell you at our next irregularly scheduled meeting of the minds, when our adventure in networking continues…


Target Market Clarity – Why the Six Key Situations Make it Easier to Give Referrals

May 30, 2011

Most transactions, regardless of industry or business category are the result of a consumer experiencing a life cycle event which requires the products or services of various vendors.

Successful business networkers are always on the lookout for these life cycle events to create referrals for their networking partners.

The problem however, at least on the surface, is the variety of life cycle events driving the economy seems enormous. How can anyone possibly remember all the connections between the products and services of their networking partners and the endless variety of challenges people experience in their daily lives?

Just think of all the different industries and business categories focusing on their slice of the marketing pie. From selling insurance or repairing automobiles to healing an aching back or remodeling a kitchen, it seems that every business is looking for its own, unique target market.

Six Key Situations = Six Easy Target Markets

In Money on the Table, we simplify the universe of potential target markets into “Six Key Situations” or life cycle events that are the underlying cause of the vast majority of referral opportunities in a structured business networking group.

  1. Business Builder
  2. Getting Healthy
  3. Getting Married
  4. Relocation
  5. New Baby
  6. Real Estate Construction, Remodel & Maintenance

By focusing on how each of your networking partners offers a product or service to a consumer experiencing one of the Six Key Situations, you will not only recognize more opportunities to create referrals, you will give stronger, relevant and more compelling testimonials that result in closed business for your networking partners.

Start with Your Product or Service

Many of the products and services from your networking partners will be obvious, others less clear but nonetheless powerful. For example, a Business Builder may know she needs the services of a promotional products person to build her brand but may be unaware of how an event planner can create a successful product launch, how the personal chef can save her money with healthy home-cooked food or the cleaning service can save time doing the housework, so she can spend more time building her business!

Understanding how different business categories from different industries provide a relevant product or service to each of the Six Key Situations starts with a review of your own business category and which of the Six Key Situations are the most productive referral circumstances for your business. More on this next time, when our adventure in networking continues…


Are YOU ready for a FAST180?

May 20, 2011

With the new release of Money on the Table, I look back in time and realize that my personal FAST180 began on April 10th, 2008. That was the day Dr. Ivan Misner agreed to sit and listen to me ramble, hope and dream about my idea for a book on power teams.

The meeting had been prearranged. An old mentor of mine told me many moons ago that if you want to hunt for elephants, go to Africa. Wanna surf? Hit the beach. I got the point. Possessed with the notion of Dr. Misner co-authoring the book, I took advantage of his appearance at a Referral Institute event in Scottsdale, Arizona to schedule a few minutes of his time. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what would happen after that.

The hotel’s large theater-style meeting room was packed. Presentations from the stage crackled with energy as one excellent Referral Institute speaker after another shared their networking and referral wisdom with the rest of us. Pulling me aside and telling me that he’d be swamped during the breaks, Dr. Misner suggested that we slip out of the meeting room to sit down and talk in a quiet corner of the hotel lobby.

The moment of opportunity I had been visualizing in my mind for months was happening… right now! We found a table, sat down, and Dr. Misner asked me to tell him about the book.

I explained that the book would be an easy-to-follow system for building a power team with a new twist on recognizing and converting commonly overlooked referral opportunities. He asked a few questions and told me that he liked the ideas. “Color me interested,” was his exact quote. That my friends, was the moment my personal FAST180 took a turn in the right direction.

Now, just over three years later, the power team book has evolved into Money on the Table, literally, figuratively, and any other way imaginable. This blog was used to flesh out the bulk of the material that ultimately made it into the book. With the book now complete, I’m on a mission to share its lessons, tools and strategies with business people from all industries who are interested in creating more, better quality referrals for their networking partners and of course, themselves.

Last point: If you spend a moment looking at this blog you will notice that other than this current post, it’s been over a year since any new content was featured here. During that time I made a transition from real estate broker to business referral guru and Senior Vice President of Consulting for MaxAvenue, an intellectual property and consulting firm specializing in real estate. Most of the material for the book had already been finished when I made the career switch, and as a result, the blog became a forgotten piece of my FAST180 puzzle.

Until now… That’s right – the Adventures in Networking blog is back! Sometimes you’ve gotta do a “slow 360” and come full circle to complete a FAST180. In other words, with Money on the Table finally in print, the blog has returned as a viable outlet for power team news, ideas, upcoming events and Money on the Table success stories.

Thank you for visiting! Please check back often or subscribe for updates. These are wild and wacky times and I am excited to find out what happens next, as our adventure in networking continues…


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