No, me neither, That is why I have wisely used that analogy to talk about how agencies can find more clients.
Of all the hundreds of agencies that I have worked with over the last 12 or so years one thing stands out. And that is they all told me that the majority of their work comes from referrals, often 70-90% of it. It is often the way the owners set the business up in the first place.
Many agencies are set up the good old fashion way, where two or three people nab a client or two do a sneaky deal, jump ship and hey presto new agency with two clients on-board in no time. Ring any bells?
Then over time chance referrals come their way. Sometimes their client often a Marketing Director leaves their employer to work elsewhere and bring their favoured agency with them.
Sometimes a Marketing Director tells another that is not in the same sector as them about his preferred agency, then a meeting ensues and hey presto we got ourselves another one.
So in a way (wish me luck I am going in) that person who moves around and gives referrals is like an atom.
That atom (person) pays the agency money but also he has a referral value too. So the true value of that person (atom) is how many referrals they give you over time that you close into business. The higher that value the higher its atomic value. Great referrers are like plutonium.
Like plutonium they are valuable and need to be looked after because they are so full of energy (referral value). Unlike plutonium they are not radioactive or that hard to find. You probably have at least three under you nose and you don’t even realise it. I repeat they are not radioactive so worry not.
If an agency traced where all there referrals and work came from they may find that one to three people (atoms) have supplied all their energy (referral value).
If they now compare this cost of sale which is negligible to all the time and cost they have spent on direct marketing, going to events and what not it is truly depressing.
Noticeably some atoms split on their own i.e. they move around a bit to other jobs and bring you with them or they tell others about you on occasions, releasing more energy your way.
But what would happen if we consciously tried to split the atom?
What if we realised that the value of our client is not just the money they spend with you per year but also the people they know that they may be comfortable introducing you to.
If you look at your current client list and then work out how many atoms – I mean people – you know across all your clients, then we get an idea of their mass and we know that E (energy)= mass x speed of light squared right? We might not need the speed of light bit granted, but hey.
So to release the energy from that mass we need to ask for referrals face to face – or we can wait and wait for the referrals to occur naturally.
What I am suggesting is that if you continue to do great work for a client they may move on and take you with them. You may of course have issues dealing with the incoming marketing director but by and large agencies in my experience an agency grows when people move around not always of course but largely.
But also that if you learn to have conversations with your best clients about who they’d feel comfortable referring you to we are shaking (gently) some of that energy out of them. We are splitting the atom. Phew – I made it, well sort of.
Luckily asking for referrals is not nearly so complex, although to some it takes a while getting used to.
The truth is people rarely mind giving referrals if you make it easy for them to do so and you ask nicely and sincerely. By being clear about who you’d like to meet and how they can help facilitate it effortlessly. They don’t want have to go into deep thought to do you a favour of a referral – they don’t want it to be particle physics, they want an easy process.