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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Client Events Generate Client Referrals A Guest Post by Neil Wood!

Want to grow your business and gain more referrals in 2009 and the future?

A client asked me what I thought was the best way to get new referrals and subsequently clients. My comment was simple. “Treat your current clients like gold and they will be your raving fans and top resource for referrals.” I know I won’t win the Nobel Peace Prize for that simple bit of insight, but I do know that many salespeople take their current clients for granted because their relationship is “fine” the way it is. “Fine” is not the way I want my clients to describe our relationship. “Fantastic” is more like it! So how can you get your clients to describe YOUR relationship and level of service as “Fantastic” and the best around? I’ll share one idea today that has worked successfully for the last 13 years.

One of the easiest, most fun, inexpensive and appreciated activities you can do for your clients is the hosting of a Client Event. It’s an ideal way to show how much you enjoy the relationship and their business. Plus, your clients get to do something they enjoy and at least for a couple of hours, forget about the economy and any other negative events being blabbed about on the news. I have been involved in more than 250 events like this and they have been successful every time!

When I mentioned this to one sales guy who was looking for referrals, he asked me a question that I’ve heard many times before. “But how do I find out what my clients like to do?” “Ask them” I replied. I’ll give you an example that may clear up any confusion.

A friend of mine by the name of Jeb, created a Client Profile for each of his clients. He has the usual info about their background, goals, family members, favorite sports teams, places they travel to and most of the other things you would know about your friends and should know about your clients. Jeb also asks his clients what activities they do for fun and relaxation. The list includes: fishing, golfing, collecting and enjoying wine, dancing, gardening, skeet shooting, sharing time with grand kids, dining at fine restaurants, traveling and photography. Armed with this valuable info, he organizes at least a dozen client events around the specific activities that his clients enjoy. Every month is a different event.

In September he has his annual golf tournament. By June, Jeb or his assistant will call the clients who enjoy golfing to remind them of the tournament and ask if they would like to invite a guest. They only invite about 30 clients so that this event is easy to organize, has a maximum of 60 people (clients plus 1 guest) and everyone can get to know each other.
Jeb follows this same repeatable process for all of his events. He even sends a postcard at the end of the year, which lists all the events and dates for the upcoming year. Jeb told me that he doesn’t need to ask for referrals anymore. His clients rave about him, their guests meet him at these events and everyone has fun doing something they enjoy.

Is this worth the time and investment? Well, let’s see. Your clients are the people responsible for your income today and in the future. If each event costs between $1,000 to $3,000 dollars, and you get excellent referrals for more business, I’ll let you do the cost analysis to decide. Some of the events are very inexpensive. For the clients who enjoy sharing time with the grand kids, Jeb has a day at the zoo. Some clients invite 2-4 grand kids, have a great morning at the zoo, enjoy lunch and get home in time to take a nap. It’s a win win and also known as multi-generational marketing. Every grandchild who is invited to the zoo meets Jeb as he personally gives each one a bright colored tee shirt to celebrate the day. There is also a photo taken with the client and grand kids, which is sent to them, already framed, the following week. Tell me, what is that day worth? The cost is negligible! Remember, it’s not what it costs; it’s what it’s worth!

Have some fun with your clients. Practically everyone needs a boost these days. We all know that better days are in the near future. Do something now that your clients will remember for years. If you need help with financing the event, call some of your vendors to see if they can use some of their budget to help you. But remember, this is an investment in YOUR business and a thank you to your clients. Have fun!

Neil Wood is the President and Chief Eternal Optimist of Neil Wood Consulting, which provides keynote presentations and sales training. He is the author of The Magic of Working Smarter, a book that teaches sales reps how to balance life, work, family and fitness on top of being wildly successful!
For more info, you can see Neil’s website at:
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  1. I really appreciate Neil stopping by to guest blog. I'm a big fan of his and found his Magic of Working Smarter to be a fantastic read!
    Thanks again Neil!

    Paul Castain

  2. This is inspired, Neil. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Will cook for referrals!
    Great article. I recently started bringing lunch in to some of my smaller clients office once a month. So far the response has been great.
    I put my Gas grill in the back of the mini van and drive it out to their office. The night before I do all the prep work and then arrive early enough to grill it up in front of the staff. People like to be catered to and I love to cook.
    My cost runs around $75 to $100 and it takes up most of one afternoon per month.
    I then ask the decision maker if they can think of any business associates with similar needs I have satisfied for them that might enjoy me cooking lunch for their staff to generate referrals.

  4. Great Blog Neil - and for those hosting events, I suggest reading "Mr. Schmooze". It may sound corny, but it teaches some great lessons about how to "elevate" the experience for all involved.


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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