What’s the first piece of advice given to new business owners when they want to generate new leads? Contact your friends, family and the people you already know!
But how many new business owners actually use this advice?
Truth is, most business owners are terrified to start working their sphere of influence. They feel fear of failure, rejection and sometimes even fear of the phone or the idea of reaching out!
However, this is a huge resource of easy and FREE leads! There is high income earning potential as well by working your Sphere of Influence and the skies are the limit for the number of referrals you can generate. Basically, these are people who already know, like and trust you! Why would we leave all of this referral money on the table?
What is a Sphere of Influence?
Your sphere of influence is pretty much anyone you know personally or have given business to you before.
This can be your hairdresser you see consistently, previous coworkers or family members – the idea behind the term ‘sphere of influence’ is that, by simply knowing you, you have the ability to impact them.
This can be nerve-wracking for some people as they fear judgment from the people they know.
The truth is, as humans, we’re already influencing each other all the time! Use this feature of human nature to your advantage to grow your business through referral marketing by leveraging your Sphere of Influence.
Who Belongs in my Sphere of Influence?
Now, as a business professional, you will spend time and money working your Sphere of Influence. You want to make sure those who you consider for your Sphere of Influence are a good fit and that they can give you referrals for your business.
You need to do a weeding out process to figure out who belongs there. Again, we are doing this to grow your referral network and earn you more business. So this step is very important!
When you think of your family, friends, previous coworkers or your favorite tax accountants and your children’s school teacher – that list can be quite long. However, we must ask ourselves, do they really belong in my Sphere of Influence? We need to have a process to determine who belongs so we have a healthy Sphere of Influence to maximize our referrals.
The first step is to write down everyone you can think of that you think could belong in your Sphere. Use a Memory Jogger list!
A Memory Jogger list is a list of categories and people you know in your life that could be a potential referral source. That is why it is called a Memory Jogger list – it jogs your memory of people you know!
After you have all of the categories of your memory jogger list (like hairstylists, accountant, your neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc), write down the names, phone numbers and emails of those people. We recommend using a spreadsheet or CRM system of some kind to keep track of this data. You can have more than one name and number down for each category!
Now, here comes the important part. You want to make sure these people all belong in your Sphere of Influence and are qualified to be there. You want to make sure these people give you referrals for your business.
You are going to want to ask qualifying questions to see who actually belongs in your Sphere of Influence from this memory jogger list. Qualifying questions are important because you will spend time and money working your Sphere of Influence and you want to make sure they belong there to maximize referral and income potential.
You do not have to be too specific when it comes to your Qualifying Questions, but you want to make sure that those who are in your Sphere of Influence belong there and will give you referrals for your business. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you want to make sure that you are not putting an old coworker on your list whose mom is a real estate agent as well. It will probably be difficult to compete with that close of a family member!
When asking Qualifying Questions, ask open-ended questions and refrain from asking a question where the answer can be “Yes or No”. You also want to refrain from putting them on the spot or making them feel as though you are confronting them. For example, if you were a Hairdresser, you would ask “If you were looking for a hairdresser to visit, who would you go to?” This leaves it open-ended for them to respond openly and honestly. If you ask them, “If you were looking for a hairdresser, would you use me?”, they may feel uncomfortable saying no to you, even if their honest answer is no. You may receive an automatic “yes” that may not be genuine. Then, you may never discover that their sister is actually a hairdresser or they absolutely love their hairdresser and they are never going to look for another one. If you want your sphere of influence to be a referral Pot of Gold, you need to make sure the people who are on it belong there.
Why is Working Your Sphere of Influence Important
Okay, let’s get to the important stuff. Why are we even doing all of this? Because we want more referrals right? It used to be that someone needs to be contacted or hear about a product or service 6 to 7 times before purchasing. In today’s digital day in age with shorter attention spans, it can take 11 to 12 times. Reduce the need for additional follow up for conversions by growing the number of warm leads that come in as referrals from people who already know and like you – your sphere!
Think about it, if you were looking for someone to remodel your kitchen, you would shop around and look at pictures and search online for who could do the best job. Now, if you had a good friend who raved on and on about how amazing this one company remodeled their kitchen – you would probably choose them quickly without the need for as much comparison and searching. You already have the positive evidence and social proof in front of you and that was an easier decision to make. This is what you want to create for your business! You want to work your sphere of influence (people who already know and like you) to be referral machines for your business!
When done correctly, studies show working your sphere of influence and staying in touch with your sphere can lead to 30% of your annual business. So, if you have 100 people appropriately placed in your sphere of influence, and you are staying in contact and working your sphere efficiently, that can lead to 30 leads a year. The best part is these leads have already been “worked” and warmed up as referrals because they come from someone who is influencing them to make a decision. That is a lot of warm leads – that are pretty much free!
How to Grow Your Sphere of Influence
Organizing your list is very important!
There’s really no right or wrong way to organize your list. A good rule of thumb when you’re first getting started with your business and contacting your sphere is to list your contacts according to how you know the person.
Then, based on your qualifying questions, are they an “A” prospect or “B” prospect.
“A” prospects are those who have used your services or bought your product in the past, have referred you to someone they know or have committed they would use you from your Qualifying Questions.
“B” clients are those who have not used you in the past and have not necessarily committed that they would use you in the future, but did not mention they would go with anyone else either.
Some business owners have “C” lists or continue to segment beyond this. This is your choice as a business owner but you want to spend the most time and energy on those who are going to give you more referrals for your business.
Organizing your sphere is important because this will determine how you contact them. Something very important to remember is to contact them as you normally would. Remember, these are people who already know and like you, you don’t want to ruin that relationship by coming off salesy. Contact your sphere of influence for more referrals in a way that feels natural.
Put yourself in your contact’s shoes. How would you like to be contacted? Of course, don’t be afraid to be honest about your new business venture and ask your qualifying questions, but remember to be genuine and authentic.
Put yourself in their shoes and be considerate. There is no better advice to give a business owner. Be courteous, genuine and show that you care about them! As you are working your sphere of influence, keep track of your clients lives and remember details.
Your sphere of influence should always be growing as you grow your business. Leads are people who you come across through forms of prospecting. You want to ask Qualifying Questions to these leads to see if they belong in your sphere of influence. The more you prospect, advertise, attend networking events and online lectures for your business, the more people you will meet as leads. The more connections you make with these leads, the more people you add to your sphere of influence.
This form of prospecting is extremely valuable when building your business and is something you will continue to do for the life of your business.
How to Contact Your Sphere of Influence for More Referrals
How you approach anything is how you will approach everything. The approach to working your sphere of influence is key. The underlying foundation of your approach should be grounded in a “give first” mindset and a sincere curiosity about what the other person is trying to accomplish. You always want to keep in mind how you help solve a problem for them and how you can help them. The more you give, the more you will receive.
It is important that you take a genuine interest in the lives of those in your sphere of influence.
As a rule of thumb, you want to stay in touch with your “A’s” about 8-12 times a year. You want to email them monthly, remember their birthdays and connect with them on social media for important moments in their lives. Now, calling someone 8-12 times a year sounds like a lot, but overall, it really isn’t. For example, you can call them on their birthday and if you know their spouse’s birthday. You can call with new information that may pertain to something they are experiencing in their lives. For example, if you are a car salesman and you know your neighbor has been having car trouble and absolutely loves Jeeps, you can call them with information on a new model being released or a promotion your dealership is going to run.
The biggest thing to remember with this is you are not being “salesy”. You are offering a solution to someone you know in a giving manner. You do not expect anything from them, you are just checking in because you know them well and you know they love Jeeps.
Now you know the steps to growing your business by getting more referrals from your sphere of influence! This is important because your Sphere of Influence can be your Pot of Gold for both recurring and new business. If you organize, contact and work your sphere correctly, a good metric to expect is that 30% of your business will be from referrals. This is considering you are prospecting in other ways. Some business owners and professionals have grown their business 100% by referral!
As a recap, the way to grow your business by referrals from your Sphere of Influence is:
- Creating your Sphere list from your Memory Jogger
- Determine who belongs in your Sphere by asking Qualifying Questions.
- Prioritize and organize your list as “A’s” and “B’s”.
- Work you Sphere for more referrals by staying in contact with them and being genuine.
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