Bootstrapper. Sales & Marketing Leader. SaaS addict. Founder at www.referralriver.com. Always pre-selling products or solutions before building. AI and Machine learning is the next wave. Get on and paddle or get out!
Do the opposite.
Think about it from their point of view. They get requests like these all the time and most of the time the request comes from random people they don't know. That would be kind of annoying right? You get an email from someone you don't know but they want you to do something for them? You'd delete that email too.
Best way to get their attention...get a referral from someone they know and trust. Get someone else they know and trust to introduce you (this is the whole reason I built my business www.reverralriver.com). Referrals work the best.
Second best way...develop a relationship with them before asking for anything. Don't email and ask for something right away. You wouldn't ask someone to marry you on a first date would you?
Develop the relationship slowly. Give them value before ever asking for anything in return. Over just a few short weeks you could easily establish a relationship to the point where you could actually mention an "ask" which should be very open-ended and create absolutely zero work/friction for the person you are asking.
One of my favorite techniques to warm-up a relationship...just email and tell them you appreciated (insert an article they wrote or service they provide, whatever, just stroke their ego). Tell them you're a fan and often point people their way. Then go way above and beyond and find their physical mailing address (it's not that hard to do) and send them a small gift or hand-written postcard in the mail just to say thanks. Then email them once you know they got it and just say thanks again. Then start emailing them various articles or things they might think are valuable, I'd say no more than once every 4 days. Connect on LinkedIN and message them funny pictures or GIF's. Show them you're human. Make them laugh and smile and just say "Hey I appreciate all you've done so just wanted to return the favor and make you smile (insert funny GIF here)".
Then, once they know who you are, don't ask them directly to partner...ask them if they know anyone who would be interested in partnering.
Below is a template I've used with great success...and the beauty is that they will often ask for more info and get interested themselves, but usually only if you have offered them some sort of value to stand out amongst the crowd.
Hey (prospect first name),
Hope you laughed at the last GIF I sent.
I was just wondering if you knew anyone that would be interested in a partnership/affiliate opportunity…
Real quick summary…
I’m building a SaaS that automates the process of asking for referrals…it uses artificial intelligence to find potential leads in your existing customers network and makes it super simple for your customers to make the referral (one click of a button).
If you know anyone that has an audience of people that would benefit from something like this I'd be grateful for an intro.
I won't let you down I promise if you can make an intro. I’ll draft up all the marketing material and do all of the work, so all they would have to do is say “ok”, hit copy, paste, and send and I’d be happy to pay them 25% commission for life (or if there is another payment structure in mind I’m happy to talk about it)
So what do you think? Can you help me out?
If you found this useful please upvote.
Book a call with me if you want to know more or if I can help further.
The one and only thing you should do to validate your idea is...
Pre-sell the solution.
TAKE MONEY. Real actual money.
The only way to tell if something is viable is to take money from people who will buy it.
Don't be fooled by people who say you can't do this. Apple does this all the time. The people you are looking for are called "early adopters".
This is how I validated my business (www.referralriver.com)
I talked to my target market (people I thought I could help and who I also thought could buy or actually had money to buy). At the end of the conversation I asked if they would pre-purchase the solution before it was made.
Many didn't but some did. After I had enough people that purchased I could determine that yes this is a valid idea and worth pursuing.
My general rule: Pre-sell to at least 10 people. If your solution/service/ or product has a lifetime value (LTV) of less than $1,000 then you need more than 10 pre-sales to validate. I happen to be in software so that's a subscription model so for that industry any solution that costs less than $50 per month per user is very difficult to build and be successful at, so a minimum of 10 pre-sales of at least $50 per month per user would validate an idea for me.
Before finding this one I went through maybe 10 other ideas and decided not to pursue them (mostly because no one would pay for the solution before it was built!)
Don't ask "hey would this be useful?" or "would you pay for this if it existed?"
Ask for the sale now.
If people don't pre-purchase this "idea"...then it's crap. Sorry, but guess what?! That's great news. You get to move on instead of wasting your time, money, and resources building something that no one will buy.
If you want to know more, or if you find this useful, book a time with me. Happy to help.
Please upvote this answer if you found it useful.
You need to make referrals a condition of doing business with you and do it upfront. Also, automate the referral ask. More details on "how to" below.
To do this: During your first interactions with a client (NOT after you have delivered or closed the sale, that's a rookie mistake), you can tell them....
"Listen, it's our job to treat you guys so well that you'll not only come back to us over and over again when you need help...it's our job to treat you so well that you'll feel comfortable with us enough to send your friends and colleagues our way when they need our help. Does that make sense?"
When they say "Yes" (and they won't say no) you say, "OK great, the way we do that is through referrals. So once you're happy and successful with us, we'll occasionally ask you for a referral. So, you get great work from a team you know and trust and you also get to connect people in your network to a service that you know works well so you look like a rockstar to your network.I want to make sure we can agree to that upfront? This is how we do business here and it holds us accountable to you and makes sure we deliver the absolute best product/service you've ever seen. So once you're happy will you send us referrals?"
Once they agree, you now have permission, and a verbal contract that they will send you referrals. Now, treat them like gold with this mentality that you not only want to give them a great finished product, but you want them to refer you. That should drive the work.
Once you've delivered...ask for the referral. Don't make the rookie mistake and just say one-time "hey do you know anyone that you could refer us to?" That will rarely work.
Instead, ask "Hey, do you remember when we started this project and we both agreed that if we delivered and made you both happy and successful that you would refer us to people in your network?"
Pause, shut up and listen, and let them say "yes".
Ask them first "So are you happy with what we've delivered?"
Pause, shut up and listen, and let them say "yes".
If they hesitate at all, they aren't happy and won't refer. Don't hold back and dive-in deep here. Say "I sensed a little hesitation. What's up? What are we missing? I want to help."
Figure out what's wrong, fix it, then ask them if they are happy.
Then say, "well I've been looking at your connections on LinkedIN and I noticed you are connected to (enter 2 names and company names here). Can youintroduce us so we could have a conversation and get to know them?"
The above means you have to do the research. You have to do the work. But the work upfront is much easier than dealing with a cold prospect. Most salespoeple/organizations just don't respect referrals enough to make them a priority. It's their loss and your gain if you follow this simple process. It's work. Just do the work and you might also find you get to know people and enjoy it. These are your customers. Treat them like people. Take care of them and they'll take care of you.
Once you make the ask, continue to mine referral leads and ask once a month. Follow-up until they answer. Follow-up until they tell you to stop. Phone is best but email works too. Use it as an opportunity to maintain and develop the relationship. Truly care about your clients and they will never tell you to stop following up. It will be like talking to an old friend and often this process leads to more sales from your past clients as you stay top of mind.
Want to automate this process...
FULL DISCLOSURE FIRST: I co-founded www.referralriver.com
If you want to automate the referral ask, try ReferralRiver. It's free and uses artificial intelligence to automatically research who is in your client's network and make the referral ask at the right time every month. It reduces your work significantly while you just Cc'ed on an email from your existing customers to new referral leads. It's freaking magical.
There are other services out there as well like LeadDyno (more of an affiliate program). You should try it all but the truth is that you have to make the agreement upfront and you have to get serious about making referrals a priority.
Book a call with me if you want to ask me any questions. Happy to help.