I want to talk about building trust. Specifically, how your outside sales reps can build trust with potential affiliate partners. The standard approach most outside sales reps take is to offer a referral fee. So let’s look at an approach that can help you build trust with someone who you’ve only known for days or weeks instead of months and years. In order for them to trust us and send us a potential customer, they need to know two things. First, we provide really good customer service. Second, they need to know that we will send them money. This can happen in the way of a referral fee, but I prefer to send them jobs. I will use plumbers as an example, but this can apply to roofers, HVAC, carpet cleaners, rebuild agents and many other trade persons. If you are looking for a good local plumber to partner with, this is an example of an approach that can build trust.
First, look online for local plumbers in your area. Then narrow it down to smaller companies. You will have a difficult time getting to a decision-maker if you call a really large operation. Take a little time and review the website and read some of the customer reviews.
This is an example of a cold call approach:
Operator: Hello, ABC Plumbing.
Outside sales rep: Hi, I was looking online for a local plumbing company. I saw that you guys have been serving the local area for 20 years.”
Operator: “Yes, we have.”
Outside sales rep: “I often have clients who need a plumber, but I don’t do plumbing. I also see that you guys have 12 5-star reviews. It is really important that I offer my clients really good customer service.”
Operator: “Yes, it is important to us to provide good customer service.”
Outside sales rep: “Is there any way that I could speak to the owner to set up a time to meet? I don’t like to send people into my customer’s homes unless I have personally met them.”
This is a great way to disarm the person who is answering the phone. Instead of calling and asking them if we can get on their referral list, you are calling them with a problem. You have clients who need plumbers. You are not a plumber. Once they realize the effort you are putting into finding good local companies for your clients, they will understand how important customer service is for you. You see that they provide really good customer service. You want to get some business cards from them, so you can refer them to your restoration clients.
There is an approach that can be even more effective and that is if you are able to “name drop.” This is a great way to build trust in 5-10 seconds. Think of people you already work with and who already trust you. Perhaps you already work with a contractor that you refer your rebuilds to. Ask your contractor for a referral to a roofer. If your contractor, Mike, recommends John the roofer, you now have a “name dropping” or warm lead opportunity with John.
This is an example of a warm call approach.
Operator: “Hello, John’s Roofing.”
Outside sales rep: “Hi, I was speaking to Mike and told him I was looking for a good local roofer, and he referred me to you guys. Is John available to speak with?”
You would then use all the other talking points from the building trust approach. You have clients who need a roofer. You are not a roofer. You want to provide your customers with really good customer service. You see that they provide really good customer service. Using this combination of affiliate-building strategies--name dropping and building trust--will give you options and keep you from being outbid by the next higher referral fee. You are accomplishing three very important things with this strategy. You are establishing yourself as a company that cares about customer service. You are building your referral network through trust, not referral fees. Finally, you are sending your referral partners money in the form of clients.