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B2B Marketing – Building Referral Alliances

When building your network of B2B referral alliances, a good place to start is with other professionals who serve the same (or mostly the same) customer base.

An example would be if your products and services revolve around accounting software, an excellent referral partner would be CPAs.  In approaching a CPA, you would want to do so in such a way that allays any fears they might have about making a referral.  They might have dozens of inquiries during the course of a year from clients wanting to know what would be the best accounting solution would be for their business.

What would be an obstacle to the CPA making the referral?  A thought process that goes something like this:  my client is very happy with me and my firm; were I to make a referral and the solution provider was flaky and/or there were problem with the implementation, the client would now be unhappy with me for pointing them in that direction.

When Jennifer Wilson and I were leading the Alliance Boot Camps for Sage Business Partners, we recommended that the BPs find out, customer by customer, who their CPA was.   That way, when approaching the CPA, the BP could say, “I discovered that we have 4 clients in common.  That leads me to believe that maybe there would be some value in working together.”

The impact of those two sentences works like this:  “Hmm.  They’ve worked with four of my clients.  I’ve never heard any horror stories.  These customers seem very happy.  I could probably trust this solution provider.”

You’ve effectively eliminated the unspoken but very real objection to working together.  It always pays to research and do your homework.

You may not selling accounting products and services and CPAs may not be ideal alliance partners for you – but think about what the unspoken objections of what your ideal referral partner might be and how you can proactively wash it away.

Court your prospective alliance partner.  Share with them online and through targeted marketing outreach with communications that serve to move them along the Know Like Trust continuum.

You might also be interested in B2B Marketing – The Unspoken Questions.

 

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