Unprecedented referral opportunity as engagement grows

Last month, we explored the business reality that nothing beats face-to-face contact when it comes to customer relationships. In fact, the column has generated more reader responses from operators than ever before – a clear signal that businesspeople are eager to get back to something resembling pre-pandemic “business as usual”. .

I receive mail

A note from Dan Welch, president of World Cup Coffee & Tea in Portland, echoes the sentiments of several operators. He reached out to say, “Nice reading. I just sat down with a client we’ve had for 32 years. Welch went on to explain that due to the strength of the relationship, he just set up a massive micro-market after the easiest sale he’s ever had, with no bidding at all. ” You are dead. Interpersonal communication is much better than online meetings,” he added.

happy honeymoon

Now that operators can finally start interacting directly with customers – with meetings, lunches, dinners and sporting events back on the table – operators will find themselves in a unique position to relive the “honeymoon period”. » client-operator, amplified by numerous resettlements. that occur as offices repopulate.

Starry-eyed customers

If there is any truth to the reports that employers are hungry for amenities, then operators should find their customers wide-eyed when they see the accelerated OCS technology, the new variety of products, the high-quality foods quality and the multiple sustainable solutions that our industry now offers. Smart operators will maintain rigid security and sanitization programs to make customers feel safe – much safer than dealing with unmonitored outside services.

Large reference gate

This honeymoon period opens the biggest sponsorship door ever. Traders have a new opportunity to tap into an unprecedented amount of quality referrals – often the source of amazing new accounts.

Wrong way, right way

It’s important to remember (I’ve covered this before) that there’s a wrong way and a right way to ask for referrals.

The wrong way: A customer service representative or sales representative approaches the satisfied customer and asks, “I’m so glad you’re happy with our company’s performance, smooth installation, and of your new desktop refresh program. If you can think of someone who could benefit from our services, would you be so kind as to pass on my card to them? » Probable results: zero.

It could work

This approach to referrals may work, to a small extent, if an operator offers a paid strategic partnership program, where all customers are offered a $50 gift card for a referral that gives you an appointment, plus a another $200 gift card when you actually turn the referral over to a new account. Paid strategic partnerships like this work with a small percentage of people who are truly motivated to take advantage of gift cards. These people can “set the table for you” in some exceptional new accounts. It’s definitely one way to generate referrals, but there’s a better way.

It works – guaranteed

The best and proper way to ask for a recommendation during that second honeymoon period (or with any happy new or existing client) starts with LinkedIn.

Your goal is to get a referral through a warm introduction.

You don’t have to be a LinkedIn guru to know that warm introductions can have a big impact on your business. Start by looking at your client’s LinkedIn connections and pick 10 you’d like to meet. Take your happy client out for a nice lunch and ask, “Do you mind if we have a chat about possible introductions to your LinkedIn connections?”

Your customers will be cooperative for three reasons:

  1. It is a very targeted approach.
  2. It’s easy for them, it takes little effort.
  3. They love you right now – it’s the second honeymoon – they want to help you!

Their list might end up being reduced to three or four connections, but warm introductions to a handful of key contacts are powerful. Once the list is set, have them do the introduction however they feel comfortable – in a call, email, or via LinkedIn.

Ask to be copied and let them know you’ll be happy to pick it up from there. That works.

Get involved, try it and report the results

Try this proven business development approach during the post-pandemic honeymoon period and let me know how it goes. This approach has always worked for me and resulted in some great new business (which has led to even more referrals). To get the ball rolling, get out from behind the Zoom screen and chat with your customers.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Tullio, industry consultant and contributor to Vending Market Watch, is a content specialist who advises convenience service industry operators on how to build a successful business from the ground up and advises vendors on how to successfully connect to carriers. Tullio’s YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, is designed to “elevate your business in two minutes”.

At the 2022 NAMA Show in Chicago, Tullio presented a pre-conference session titled, “Selling Convenience Services: Strategies of Elite Performers.”

For more information on the services Tullio offers to operators and suppliers, visit its new website at www.tulliob2b.com or contact him at bob@tulliob2b.com


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Sandy A. Greer