“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™!

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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!


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…


Race to Keep Pace – Business Networking Jump Start

March 6, 2010

 

The race to keep pace with society’s limited attention span is impacting more than just the book publishing industry.

Business networking is a perfect example. On a local level, go to a “Speed Networking” event where you have just a few short minutes to connect fact-to-face with a rapid fire parade of new prospects and potential referral partners. On the internet, the opportunity to build a personal brand with social media in virtually any industry has every hot blooded entrepreneur racing to create visibility online with more people in less time and as a result, make more money.  

As a business networker, our goal is to create referrals for our networking partners, in turn, they find business for us. Clearly, the most effective way to motivate someone to become a “Bragging Buddy” who tells other people why they should like, trust and do business with you, is to first send money making referrals to them.

But as the world spins faster and we seem to have less time to do more and more, being efficient is just as important as being effective. Got a pen and paper? Here is a powerful, yet deceptively simple tool to create business for someone you’ve just met, as well as your network of referral partners,  in less than a minute. Ask the following Trigger Question at networking events, chamber mixers, online messaging or anywhere else you interact with other business people: “How can I help find the type of customers you are looking for?”

This is a simple twist on the age old, direct question “How can I help you?” that cuts to the core of referral networking. The payoff is a result of active listening and recognizing which people and business categories in your network also serve the desired Target Market. Whenever there is a Target Market match, your networking partner is a potential Golden Goose referral source for this new contact, and vice versa. 

Proceed with caution. This Trigger Question is a powerful tool that will jump start your business networking results and create new referral opportunities. Pause for a moment once you’ve found a Target Market match. Take time to learn more about your new contact before sending business in their direction. Protecting your good name is a priority that cannot fall victim to the limited attention span syndrome.


Sudden Impact – Beyond Hot Referrals

April 10, 2009

by Lee Abraham

money-in-the-bank2jpgEveryone loves a hot referral. On the receiving end it’s called money in the bank… Ca-CHING! For the giver, it’s more of a feeling. A warm and fuzzy tingle you get every time your networking efforts help build the business of someone you like and trust. Not to mention, a networking partner who is helping build your business in return.  

Two words: “Givers Gain®!

Coined by Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI (Business Network Int’l), the world’s largest business network, Givers Gain® is BNI’s philosophy of helping others first and then benefiting in return.

That said, hot referrals are great for both the giver and receiver. And yeah, as a result, everybody around the networking table walks away viewing you with a little more Credibility. But if you really want to rock the house and lift the energy of every single person in the room, bring a Visitor to the meeting!

Inviting Visitors 101 – Invite Visitors to VISIT, not join your group

Obviously, the primary reason you invite visitors to your networking meeting is to grow the group. Even a group that is productive at its current size needs to have a steady flow of Visitors simply to cover the natural attrition of losing people due to relocation, downsizing, changing careers or not renewing membership for some other reason.

Plus, even Visitors who do not submit an application to join your network are likely to do business with someone in the group. Studies show each Visitor does an average of $2,500 with one or more people in the group whether they join or not. 

Most important: A Visitor brings fresh energy and even if the other members aren’t consciously aware of it, everyone becomes a bit more animated. visitor1During Open Networking at the start of the meeting, every Visitor is a potential customer for each member of the group. The sense of new opportunity impacts everyone in attendance. And as the person who invited the Visitor, your VCP skyrockets! 

In short, Visitors are the lifeblood of a weekly networking meeting. Your ability to attract Visitors to the meeting plays a major role in your VCP with the other members, and in turn, the benefit you get out of the group. 

What to Say

Good news! Everyone can be successful at bringing Visitors to the meeting. Keep it simple and you’ll do fine. Here are a few basic tips to increase your results: 

1) Avoid creating obstacles that get in the way of someone who might otherwise visit your meeting. Top of the list: suggesting they consider joining. It’s counterproductive.  All the suggestion does is trigger questions of “How much does it cost to join” and “What’s the commitment?” Not good for your Visitor to Invitation ratio!

Let me repeat: Invite Visitors to Visit, not Join your group.

Why? Less pressure and greater probability of success. Trust me, run a good meeting and it will sell itself. Your job is to get the Visitor to the meeting. If joining is a good idea, singerVisitors will see it on their own. 

2) When Inviting, sing the group’s praises, tell the potential Visitor about how great the networking group is for your business and that you would love for them to see how it works. 

3) Tell the prospect about other business categories and people in the group who would likely be a good connection based on Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

For example, if the prospect is a Home Inspector, they would be interested to meet the Realtor, Mortgage and Insurance person in the group. A Photographer would love to be introduced to your Florist, Caterer and Event Planner. Capiche? Click here for a post on Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

4) Ask the Visitor to bring a stack of business cards and be ready to connect with a room full of your networking partners, people who might become a source of referrals for them. 

5) When inviting let the prospect know that there is no cost or obligation to visit, other than maybe a room or meal charge if you have one. Most structured networking groups allow Visitors to sit in on two meetings and then ask the newbie to either submit an application for membership or quit freeloading. 

More Than What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Best practice: be excited, show enthusiasm and speak from first hand experience. What do you enjoy most about the meeting? Talk about how your networking group has benefited you and your business. What business categories might be natural networking partners for the Visitor?

If you genuinely feel great about your group, the person you are talking with will feel it too. bull-by-the-hornsAnd like it or not, we make decisions based on emotion. Be smart. Tap into your positive feelings. Use your emotional energy to direct that quirky thing called “human nature” to your advantage.

I see the look of determination on your face. You are ready to take the bull by the horns and start inviting like never before. The problem? You aren’t sure who to talk to. Got it! Join us next time when we look into who you should invite to your networking meeting and why, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!


Sub Sandwich – More Bread, Any Way You Slice It

April 8, 2009

 

by Lee Abraham

 

Last time out we looked at the importance of making a commitment to attend your networking group’s weekly meeting. sandwichNot just to blindly follow rules, but to build strong, meaningful relationships with your networking partners that lead to giving and receiving an ongoing stream of money making referrals.

 

So what happens when you really can’t make the meeting? Glad you asked!

 

Basic Etiquette 106 – Have a substitute represent you at networking meetings you can’t attend.

 

The first benefit of having a “Sub” is obvious: it demonstrates your commitment to the group. In networking terms, having someone represent your business keeps your Visibility intact and moves you toward Credibility, showing your networking partners some of the people from your world.

 

So far, so good. But there’s more to having a productive Sub than just lining up a warm body sit in your chair. For starters, you want to have a Sub who makes you look good.

 

Remember when we focused on how everything you do or say factors into your Personal Brand with other people, including your networking partners? Understand that substitutes are an extension of you. What they do and say will contribute to where your networking partners place you in the VCP Process®.

So let’s put the pieces of the Sub puzzle together with a few important key points:.substitutes-2

1) Who should sub? Someone from your company is a great place to start. A co-worker, boss, employee or anyone else affiliated in some way with your business is an obvious choice. Other prime candidates include anyone who can speak from first hand experience about what a great person you are. 

2) Sub’s Goal: to help the other members of the group like and trust you by sharing the story of a compelling, first hand experience with you

Although counter intuitive, specific and detailed knowledge of your products and services is NOT necessary for an effective Sub. Sure, the ability to speak intelligently about your business is a good thing, but only a bonus. 

The most elusive and valuable element of the VCP Process® is the underlying emotion your networking partners bring to the table as your “Bragging Buddy” when talking to prospects on your behalf and creating referrals for you. Having a Sub who can speak first hand about what makes YOU special is the best type of Sub you can find!

3) No Compete: Be sure your Sub does not promote anything that competes with a current member of your group.

4) Prep Work: Make sure your Sub is well prepared by explaining the two parts of the meeting when they will need to speak: strategy-1Giving your Sales Force Update to the group and Passing Referrals to other members.

Be specific in prepping your Sub. Outline how to tell the group about the type of referral you are looking for this week and encourage the Sub to share their own, warm and fuzzy first hand experience with you.

As for referrals, give your Sub any Referral Slips you have for the week to pass to your networking partners in your absence. This is much more powerful than the Sub simply showing up and saying they don’t know if you had any referrals this week or not.

Bonus Points: A Super Sub passes a money making referral of their own, either as a customer, or for someone they know who can do business with one of your networking partners.

5) Plan Ahead: Arrange for a Substitute BEFORE YOU NEED IT! Don’t wait until the last minute to line up a Sub, particularly when you know in advance that you will not be able to make a meeting. There are very few good excuses to not have a Sub. Yes, emergencies pop up at the last minute and sometimes it is truly impossible to make the meeting or find a Sub on short notice. No worries. It happens. 

But as the old cliché says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” music-gearAnd perhaps more than any other way to go beyond simply planning, is to create your own success by showing commitment to your networking group and having a great Sub represent at you at a meeting you can’t attend. 

Want to jump start your VCP? Join us next time when we step onstage and under the bright lights as a referral rock star, successfully inviting Visitors and cranking up the volume at your networking meeting, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!