Looking for a dentist? An insurance advisor? An accountant? A contractor?
You'll probably ask a friend.
It’s how we are wired and how I got my home office renovated. We trust the recommendation of friends and family - in our personal lives and in business.
Attracting new clients is a top priority for business owners. We spend money investing in different sales and marketing activities – digital ads, content marketing, trade shows – sometimes it works. Yet, new business often comes from word of mouth.
So how do we build our word-of-mouth pipeline?
By teaching our teams to build relationships of trust with clients, to become trusted advisors to clients.
A potential client who is referred to a business by a friend is four times more likely to make a purchase as compared to other clients, according to a thinkimpact report in January 2021. By building trust with clients, we also build brand ambassadors and advocates who share their experiences with their friends, colleagues and their networks. Warm referrals and leads shorten sales cycles and increase closing ratios. As we know, we are much more likely to close business when the referral comes from a friend, from someone we trust. So how do we teach our team to build trust?
In January 2020, the CEO an engineering firm with 220 people was introduced to me by a mutual friend. The CEO, and shareholder, whom we will call Dave to protect his anonymity, was losing sleep at night because the firm needed to increase revenue. They firm had a team of people responsible for business development. However, at the end of the day, it was a managing partner and senior engineer and one business development person who brought in the majority of the business. The company had a strong brand, a successful track record of successful projects, and a team of engaged employees. Dave shared that, in addition to increasing sales, he wanted everyone to care as much about the client experience and the client relationships as he did. His goal was to become THE ONE to clients. THE firm in the industry.
The firm became my client. We put a plan together for all of the client-facing teammates to learn the steps to become a trusted advisor. A plan, with a repeatable system and measurable outcomes. They all participated in the virtual group training program, group cohorts learned the step-by-step approach to build trust.
Trusted advisors are found in many different parts of an organization: sometimes they are in sales, business development, account management or sales support; other times they are estimators, technicians, engineers or scientists; many are project managers, analysts or program managers.
One year later, Dave shared that their sales have increased. Colleagues and clients are engaged. They are doing more work with their existing clients, and the number of client referrals has resulted in sales growth. Dave and his colleagues have created a highly effective and lucrative client-driven referral magnet that delivers results. Results they can track.
When everyone is rowing in the same direction, with the same playbook, the boat glides along the water much smoother and reaches its destination much faster. Now everyone on the team is striving to build and strengthen relationships of trust with clients.
This focus and the desire to become THE ONE has become a successful client-driven referral magnet.
Here are three steps you can take today to start the journey of building trust with your clients, and creating your referral magnet:
Everyone can learn how to become a trusted advisor, to become THE ONE clients go to for advice. The three steps above are a start. However, a company-wide playbook with measurable steps and clear KPIs is how to turn trust to your best lead magnet tool.
If you want to roll out a Trusted Advisor program, book a call or subscribe to my newsletter for more insights.