Brandon Barnum, Dave Erickson, Botond Seres
Dave Erickson 0:03
What is the best source of sales to grow your business? Could it be your friends, your partners or even your associates? On this ScreamingBox Podcast, we are going to examine the power of referrals and how you can get your business to grow with them. Please like our podcast and subscribe to our channel to get notified when the next podcast is released.
Dave Erickson 0:47
No customers? No leads? Is it possible to start and grow a business without hiring an expensive Sales Team? Welcome to the ScreamingBox technology and business rundown podcast. In this podcast both on SAT ash and I Dave Erickson are going to examine the power of referrals with Brandon Barnum, CEO of HOA.com. Brandon is a business visionary driving innovation and success across diverse industries. As CEO of HOA.com, a web platform for homeowners associations, Brandon has transformed the Home Services landscape by establishing a trusted network of certified professionals that has not only saved homeowners time and money, but has also fostered trust within the communities. Prior to this, Brandon served as president of refer.com, where he led a global referral marketing system. And Brandon's impact resonates across entrepreneurial landscapes even today, reflecting his commitment and connection to communities and fostering excellence. Well, Brandon, it looks like you know a lot about referrals and relationships. What would you say is the point in your career where your understanding of the value of these became clear to you?
Brandon Barnum 1:59
Well, it was really, when I was in my 20s, I was a single dad. I had found out in college that you don't have to be married to have a kid. And at the age of 22, I became a dad and at the age of 24, I had full custody of my son and I was only making about 20 grand a year at that point, and had to make a change. So I got in the mortgage business and had somebody mentor me in the art and science of what I now call raving referrals. And I was able to 10x my income from $20,000 to $200,000 a year within 18 months. So that was the pivotal point.
Dave Erickson 2:35
Why did you start HOA.com and what's kind of the background behind it?
Brandon Barnum 2:39
Yeah, you know, it's interesting, we sold referred.com, we built that up to 5 million members and after selling that company, we really set out to solve the issue of connecting homeowners to professionals they can trust and creating an ecosystem around homeowners specifically. So we didn't start the company as HOA.com. We started it as The Homeowner Alliance.com. And we were on a mission to connect homeowners to professionals they can trust and we realized that The Homeowner Alliance.com, that domain was too long to fit on the side of the bus and so I said okay, if we could have any domain on the planet, what would it be homeowner Alliance HOA I went to HOA.com reached out to the owner, made him an offer he couldn't refuse. And here we are.
Dave Erickson 3:30
to be transparent. I was once the president of an HOA so I'm familiar with HOAs and what they do, and I made sure that I bought a home that did not have an HOA. So I learned a lesson from my experience that's for sure. Part of one of the things that you focus on or talk about, and maybe that comes from your prior experience was referred.com is that of referrals. And maybe you can go in a little bit about what are your thoughts about referrals? And what are the value of referrals for any kind of business? Maybe we can go from there.
Brandon Barnum 4:09
Yeah, you bet. So referrals are huge for anybody that's in business, quite frankly, Ivan Meisner, who was the founder of BNI. He says 98% of businesses rely on referrals, but only 3% have a system in place and that's what I find to be true for a lot of people who don't partner with others. But the beauty of referrals is that when somebody is referred to you, they're 400% more likely to buy from you or hire you, because the trust factor is so high from the get go in b2b sales business to business sales, 84% of sales in the b2b world start with a referral. So if you're not being referred, if you're not being sort of invited in, then it's a tough road to hoe. So there's a lot of reasons to work by referrals. Referrals are 16% more profitable overall, because of that trust factor. People stay with you longer, they refer others to you, and they spend more money with you. So, in my mind referrals are the only way to go. I teach lead is a four letter word I don't want to leave, I want somebody who's been referred to me where that other person has said, Wow, you got to talk to Brandon, he's the best there is. And that's what we do for our clients and customers is help them become that trusted authority.
Dave Erickson 5:32
Yeah, for our business. We're 100% referral, I've gone through sales teams, I've done all these other things. Our best businesses always come from referrals from past customers, or developers or, you know, business partners that we've had. And that is usually, for us, the best way to get business. We don't necessarily have a system for it. It just kind of occurred naturally. And that's kind of a little bit about what I find interesting about you, is that you've kind of developed a system.
Brandon Barnum 6:06
Yeah, absolutely. And that's what we find is that most people get most of their business by referral. But usually they don't really have a system or a process. So you know, one of the gaps that we find is that people don't ask for referrals. And we say you should be automating the "ask” and integrating it into your invoices, maybe your email signature, but you know, helping people understand that you would love to help the people that they care about. But we teach the art of the “ask”, and how to ask for referrals in a way that you're comfortable with and that your clients and customers are comfortable with as well.
Botond Seres 6:45
The way you talk about referrals makes it honestly seem like a completely different thing than what I initially had in mind. So being a guy who works in software, referral is more or less just some webpage somewhere that I worked on. But it is really interesting to hear that it has this completely different meaning of someone basically vouching for either my or someone else's skills. And I do wonder how, how it is…
Brandon Barnum 7:20
Yeah, absolutely. So the art of the Ask is really what you're asking about. And really what you want to do, like, let's take your scenario where you're developing software for people, but when they decide to hire you, that's when you want to set the stage. And there's really three steps to the art of the Ask number one is setting the stage, number two is listening for the referral triggers, and then number three is to a. s. k. to g. e. t. Okay, so we'll break those down. So the first thing you want to do is set the stage and what that means is that with, let's say, you've got a new client that's just agreed to hire your company okay? What you want to do is before you let them out of that meeting, or that Zoom, you say, Listen, before I let you go, can I ask you a favor? They'll all say either yes or maybe tell me more. Right? We love helping our clients create an incredible digital experience, whatever your, your end goal for your product or service. So whoever's listening right now, think of what you deliver to your customer, what's that ideal outcome. So we love helping our clients solve their, their digital technology issues. And we're so committed to helping you have an amazing experience that we're going to while you and we believe that you're going to be blown away by what we deliver for you. And I'd like to ask you a favor of once we've proven ourselves to you, if it would be okay, if we ask for referrals, because we also want to help other clients just like you. Okay, so that's setting the stage, you're not putting them on the spot. You're not asking for referrals now, however, you will find that some people will give you referrals right then, because they're white. Well, actually, now that you mentioned it, I've got a client, a customer, a friend and colleague that I was just talking to, and they need help. So I'd be happy to connect you. So you'll get referrals sometimes right away, but really, you're setting the stage, you're letting them know, we're going to do an awesome job for you and that's what they want to hear anyway. Okay, so that's step one, setting the stage now. You start serving the client. Now you're looking, you're listening for the referral triggers. And really what you're listening for, is that wow moment or a thank you, an expression of appreciation. Okay, so when you've delivered your product or service, and they say, Wow, this is so great. This is even better than I thought it was. You've helped us save so much time and make so much money, whatever your outcome for your product or service Is your listening for that wow moment. And when you hear it, now you go into step three, which is A. S. K. to G. E. T. And I say it that way, because that's the way that it was taught to me by my mentor Mark Victor Hansen, who wrote all those Chicken Soup for the Soul books. But basically, you've got to ask people for what you want in this life in order to get it. And the worst thing they can do is say no, but even if they say no, you already have the result you started with, right? So…
Botond Seres 10:32
I always love when people say the worst thing they can say is no.
Brandon Barnum 10:37
Okay, well, and we can go there. But honestly, if you've done a good job for them, right? And you just heard them say, Wow, this looks awesome, I'm so excited. Whatever that expression of appreciation, that's when you know, it's time to ask, right? And you say, I'm so glad to hear you say that. Remember, when we first started working with you, that I told you, we were going to really go above and beyond and deliver a great product and service for you? Well, now that you're thrilled with our service, we'd love to help other people just like you. So, do you have any clients or customers colleagues, you get specific about who you're asking for and at that peak state when they know that you've already delivered? That's when they'll be happy to refer you more clients and customers?
Botond Seres 11:27
Right? So it seems to me the main point is to set up like, the idea of them giving the referral at some point, and then wait for the perfect moment. And then the worst thing they can do is say no, in that perfect moment.
Brandon Barnum 11:43
Now one of the other things that we find often is that people don't really create many referral partnerships. And that's one of the big gaps that we solve. We actually create what we call a referral partner blueprint to teach people how to create partnerships with others who are serving your perfect prospects every day. Now, for you guys, if you're in digital development, you probably have people that refer you business and clients quite a bit, don't you? And where do you find most of those referrals come from Dave?
Dave Erickson 12:18
It's usually mostly from people that we've known for a while. The most valuable ones tend to be from our customers, but I actually also have relationships with a lot of our competitors, although I don't really see them as competitors, because we're always helping each other, we'll lend developers to those people, they'll lend some to us, everyone's moving resources around. And then a lot of times, we're just talking about business, and how do you solve this problem and we kind of, there's enough business out there that we're not trying to fight over a piece of business, right? So there's some cooperation. And there are some times when we'll partner with a company and say, Hey, if you give us referrals, we'll do a referral, a finder's fee or referral fee or something like that. But that's kind of the exception versus, you know, what we mostly find?
Brandon Barnum 13:13
Yeah,it makes sense. And it really, when you think about it, there are other businesses, where you're the solution to their clients challenge, right. And that's what you want to be. You want to establish yourself with other companies that are serving, in your case business owners, right? And look to be that solution so that when their clients have challenges, they're bringing that challenge to you. So, you know, that could be business coaches, and consultants, it could even be CPAs. I mean, there's so many different industries that are serving business owners, that could be helping in a similar case and just like you're saying, you found a lot of business comes from your competitors, because they just don't have the capacity, right? What we find is that only 2% of the professionals, we've surveyed 1000s of professionals, only 2% have 10 or more referral partners. So part of what we teach and, and support people with is helping people to create not only referral partnerships, but also cross marketing campaigns, where you're promoting each other to your respective clients and databases. And that way you're letting your clients know if we've got all of these solutions for you. And if you think of the complementary services, like I always ask people who are you already referring business to? Those people should be referring business back. And then who's referring business to you that you can expand the amount of business that you're getting with that person? And then lastly, who are the people that you know, like and trust that are serving your clients that should be promoting you on a regular basis?
Dave Erickson 14:59
One of the hardest things is asking for a referral, I think, because you know, you're kind of in a service, definitely from a service industry, you know, you're there to serve the client. You're not there to ask the client to do things. He's there to ask you to do things and you, you provide. And I've always found that asking for referrals are usually emotionally the hardest thing to do. But also, you know, it just seems to be difficult, right? Whereas I'm willing to ask, you know, somebody else something, but a client, it's like, Okay, I'm going to ask him to do me a favor, and, you know, go on Clutch and leave a nice review for us or whatever. It's emotionally harder. Have you found that? Or do you have any techniques or advice on how to get over that emotional kind of barrier of asking your client to help you out or refer something?
Brandon Barnum 15:55
Yeah, totally. The, the issue is, it's really a mindset, right? Because you're thinking about getting, rather than giving. And so you're thinking about selling rather than serving. So you feel like you're asking for something, rather than offering what you have to give. And so it really is just a whole 180 mind shift, right? When you recognize that you're really there to solve challenges. And that's what you do every day isn't it Dave?. So all of your clients' challenges. This is why the art of the Ask is so powerful. Because you can completely feel comfortable knowing that you're not asking for anything, you're really offering a solution. And when you come from that space in that mindset, then it doesn't feel challenging. Because, look, here's the reality, if you knew that there was an amazing restaurant movie, you would feel compelled to share it with people, right? You don't want to keep that a secret. Because you want to give that gift to others. Referrals are the same. You just have to have the right mindset.
Botond Seres 16:57
Yeah, that's pretty interesting. Brandon, to be honest, my experience with referrals is
not great. Most of the business that I got by referrals was, well, some of the more naughty business propositions that I've ever heard. Like, I think my favorite example was this one person who wanted an image removed from the internet. And, like, obviously, something that's 100% impossible to do. But usually, the kind of business I get to referrals is the most incredibly lowball offer you have ever heard in your life. So I'm wondering if, if it's possible to turn this, or these sorts of referrals into gold eventually?
Brandon Barnum 17:47
Yeah, that is really teaching people the type of who your perfect prospect is, right? Because you don't want to be known for everything you want to specialize in certain things. And it's important that you communicate clearly the types of clients that you can help. Right, if, if you don't work in the startup space, if you're only looking for companies that have 50 or more employees, then communicate that to people. In the raving referrals book, we call that your Perfect Prospect Profile. And you have to be able to communicate that to people so that they can help their people most effectively. No one wants to give a bad referral, it's a waste of time for you and for the client. So the more specific that you can be with the type of scenario that you can assist with and serve. What it does is it puts a picture in the mind of your referral partners. So that they're, they're literally scouting for business for you. They're on the lookout for your perfect prospect, and they're filtering out the people that you wouldn't be a good match for. Does that make sense Botond?
Botond Seres 18:58
Oh,absolutely. I mean, now, to think about it, that it makes perfect sense. I mean, I have been asking for the wrong kinds of referrals this whole time. And this just occurred to me. So I've been telling people that, hey, I can work on web pages or make web pages or whatever and then people would refer to me clients who wanted something like in a day or two or something. And as you said, you should have communicated. I don't really work in that kind of space with a more into the enterprise stuff. So yeah, that was a huge case of miscommunication of mine, for sure.
Brandon Barnum 19:39
Well, and one of the things that you can do that works really well is to create a one sheet about your business, right, a PDF that you can email to somebody that describes here's who we help, Here's how we help right and make it clear in that document of exactly who it is that you're looking for and what your terms of service are. I mean You don't need to give me your pricing, but part of that is to filter people out. Okay? You want to be clear in exactly who you're looking to serve, so that you can find clarity is power. And as you create that one sheet number one, you're going to be more clear. Number two, you're going to clarify that to others. And then when that person, I always say, give the gift of you, when that person has a one sheet that they can forward to a prospective client for you, that's either going to resonate, or they're going to reject it. Okay. So if they're your perfect prospect, they're going to be attracted to you. Because what you've just designed and defined is what they're looking for. If it's not what they're looking for, they're going to go away, and they're going to search for that solution somewhere else, knowing that you're not the perfect fit.
Dave Erickson 20:52
It's almost like you have a referral, kind of ask, profile, right? So for us, it would be something along the lines of, if you have a you know, if you know somebody who needs web and mobile apps, and they're small to medium sized business, and they have some business challenges, and they need to have an understanding of how to solve those business challenges with technology, hey, refer them over to us, right? And that pretty much says what we're looking for, if they're talking to some one guy startup with no money, clearly, that's not it, if they're talking about some huge enterprise, that doesn't fit us either. So it depends. Alright, actually, for us, we have Team Extension, which is mostly enterprise clients. But that's almost like a separate business.
Brandon Barnum 21:44
Sowe're clear that you can state it Dave, the more that you can really define it in a way that you can pass it on to others. They'll share that with the people that they know, but you're training people to be on the lookout for your perfect prospects, and you're helping them understand exactly who you serve, and who you don't serve.
Botond Seres 22:05
Should we talk a bit about AI? What do you guys think?
Brandon Barnum 22:10
Sure. Absolutely. So literally, I think AI is such a powerful tool. You know, we built our first AI platform four years ago, back in 2019, I was contracted as CEO of a startup tech company, and we built an AI around personal personality science to one click, decode somebody's personality on their LinkedIn profile. And so we built an AI for that. And I remember at the time, we were telling everybody, look, AI is going to change the world, just wait. And then when ChatGPT came out a year ago, now suddenly, everybody's into AI. So it was like the final inflection point where people finally get it. But I tell people all the time, AI is changing our world, and it's going to quicken your access to the right information that you're looking for. And for a business, like if you're not using generative AI in your company, then you're really missing out on an opportunity to optimize all of your operations and minimize your cost, increase your product to your client. There's so much that you can do with AI is an area that you guys excel in.
Dave Erickson 23:25
Yeah, we have a great AI team and although it's, it's more technical in the machine learning and blockchain type of business, it's all starting to merge together. And mostly what it is, is that companies are looking for ways of automating their manual processes. There's a lot of great tools out there for that, like make.com and Zapier, but there's also a lot that can be done by just doing some Python programming and going through their data sets and, and understanding things. I find this idea that you guys had of using AI to examine LinkedIn profiles and building a kind of a personality matrix from them interesting. We've been doing a lot of personality, testing and assessment of not just our developers, but our clients, trying to match them up so that they have more seamless relationships. But the idea of going through a LinkedIn profile and determining personality from it, that seems like an interesting and challenging process. How did it work out for you guys?
Brandon Barnum 24:35
Oh, it's been great. It's been great. I mean, it makes such a difference because what we say like, on the sales side, you want to customize your conversations and your presentations to, based on the personality of your prospect, right? And when you're speaking in their code, you're speaking in their language, they're far more likely to buy so you know, the beauty of how we use a system called bank code. And what's cool about bank code is it exists not only online, but also in the real world. So we use these, these cards to decode someone's personality. And this is, the AI was built around this personality system. And so I was recently at a tech startup conference and after the speakers were done, I was, you know, networking, talking to somebody, and I said, you want to see a magic trick. And I pulled out these cards, handed it to him. And I said, do me a favor, read the information on the cards, and sort the cards in order of what's most likely to least like you. That will help me serve you better and save us time. And it, you know, took him about a minute, he hands me the cards back, I describe who he is, he's like, wow, that is so made. And I said, the beautiful thing about this system is that literally, you'll have a two or three minute conversation, at which point the person will say, Wow, he gets me, right. I call it instant empathy. Because within just a couple of minutes time, you can build rapport faster than ever before. Well, the cool part was, no sooner had I said that to him. Wow, people will say he gets me that one of the speakers from the event comes up. And she heard me say magic trick. And she said she interrupted our conversation. She said, I want to see a magic trick. Okay, great. So I did the same thing. I handed her the cards, I said, do me a favor, read the card sort of an order, right. So she looks over the cards. In 30 seconds, she hands, she sorts them, she hands them back to me, I spend the next minute describing who she's just told me, she is, based on the information on the cards. And she literally turns to the guy that I was talking to. And she said, Wow, he gets me. And I'm like, okay, that's the best testimonial ever, because immediately now based on her personality, she's high knowledge, like you guys are probably very high knowledge. So I need to give her more information with a high knowledge personality, you never want to try and press them or push them into making a decision before they're ready, because they need all the information to feel, feel confident, and comfortable. So the way that you approach and you present to someone that is high knowledge is totally different than somebody that's high action that just wants to net it out fast, and they don't care how it works, as long as you tell them that it's going to be amazing, and it's going to be fast and, and cool and fun, then they're in. So that's what the personality system does. And from a sales perspective, even in technology sales, it increases your closing rates considerably.
Dave Erickson 27:48
It links in to referral, because you know, with referral, you're trying to get trust, right. And it may be that you're talking to someone and although you're doing business with them, you've only had a small piece of work, or you're, you know, you're in the middle of a year-long process, or a project and it's only been two months. And you're asking for a referral from a guy you've only talked to twice, right? So understanding who they are or getting a quick understanding or read of who they are, will help build that trust faster. So I can see how it kind of links together. What are some of the techniques or methods that you use for you know, you're working with somebody, you've just started working with them, you need to get a referral out of them, either they're referring to a platform, or you need them to go refer to some other people in their organization to get some more work. What are some of the things you can do to build that relationship quickly?
Brandon Barnum 28:52
Well, it's all about them, right. So find out what they care about and help them get it. If they have challenges in their business, because now we're talking on the b2b perspective, find out where their challenges are, and then find the solutions that will help them solve those challenges. And it may not be through your company, it may be through one of your partners. We always recommend that you create your trusted resources or recommended resources, whatever that is, quite frankly, you should have a page on your website that lists your partners and says, These are the different solutions that we've aligned with, to provide for, for you. But one of the other things that you can do is you can just check in with them. Let's say it's a long project, you might want to just check in with them and whether you're doing a you know, quarterly business review or whatever your process is, because you know what Dave, just want to check in with you on a scale of one to 10, how are we doing for you? Now, if they answer anything less than a 10 you want to follow up and say okay, well thank you for how but we understand that what would make it a 10? What can we do to really take it to the next level, that's going to create opportunities where you're going to uncover some of the ways that you can even improve your service. But there's something that if they score an eight, or nine or 10, there's a net promoter score. And that's where they're in the referral zone. Okay, so if they say, an eight, a nine or a 10, then you want to follow up with them and say, I'm so glad to hear that. But it goes back to the art of the ask, right? I'm so glad to hear that we love helping companies like yours create these types of results, by the way, one of our developers just freed up and so we're, we're looking to take on one new client, do you have any of your clients, customers or colleagues that you think would be a good fit for us?
Botond Seres 30:54
I'm gonna steal that for sure. If you don't mind, I'd like to return for a little bit to your magic trick, because it does definitely feel like an actual magic trick. I don't know, if you like the art of magic, and like mentalism is a small subset of that, which is very similar to what you just described with those cards. So I was wondering if you would care to elaborate on those four different types of personalities, because, like psychologists tends to just frame people into like 16, or more subsets, and grouping of four seems deceptively simple. So I can’t help but wonder.
Brandon Barnum 31:43
Yeah, absolutely. So I say it's a magic trick. And I really believe it, honestly. Because literally, within three minutes time, I understand who the other person is, it really is instant empathy. So that's the way I describe it that way. And when I get done showing them like, it creates intrigue. I've never had one person go no, I don't want to see a magic trick, right? Like we all want to see a magic trick. And the beauty is, it's all about them. So that's the cool kind of setup for the magic trick. I love mesmerism, quite frankly, is my Anton Mesmer, who created mesmerizing, is one of my ancestors and so from Germany, Dr. Anton Mesmer used to mesmerize women who are going into child labor so that they would reduce the pain and he would change their mental state. So big fan of that.
Botond Seres 32:38
Isn’t mesmerism kind of the same as hypnotism. Or?
Brandon Barnum 32:42
It's similar. Yeah, very similar, but different. You know, it was called mesmerism, because he would mesmerize his, his medical patients and many of them going into childcare, different from hypnotism because you're not trying to get them to stand up and shake their wings like a chicken, right? So it's more just, it's more meant to help help them rather than manipulate them, which is what I think of a little bit with hypnotizing. But anyway, to answer your question bank is an acronym that stands for blueprint. So this is your blueprint personality, people that are into strategy and structure, process planning, predictability, they like to be inside of the box. My wife is very much a blueprint personality, she follows all of the rules, right? The next one, so, bank stands for blueprint, action, nurturing, and knowledge. Okay, so the blueprint is inside the box, and they follow all the rules, the action, breaks the rules, they're into freedom, flexibility, they want to be the star of the show, they're going to net it out fast. If you get into all the details with an action personality, you've just bored them they don't want. They don't want to know that level of detail. They want to stay very high level, they tend to be visionary. Often their ego is higher than others because they believe in themselves. They have high confidence. Now then you've got nurturing personalities. These are people, people, they love, relationships, authenticity, they want to connect deeply, you're gonna see them make a ton of eye contact. They love hugs, they love to, to, you know, really connect with people who want to make a difference in the world. They want to change the world. These are your healers and your helpers. And then lastly, is the high knowledge personality that we talked about, right? They want to learn, they want to understand the why behind everything. How does it work? Why does it work? What makes the thing tick? You know, these people are going to be your engineers, your developers, right? You're gonna go deep in the code to understand how everything fits together. And then you can actually architect a solution that provides that result with predictability. So those are the four personalities, blueprint, action, nurturing, and knowledge.
Dave Erickson 35:12
Basically, by using those or understanding them, as you're talking to somebody early on in the relationship, you can kind of determine what are the things, they need to feel good about a relationship, and that makes your awareness higher, so you can make sure you provide those to them, so that they feel good about the relationship. Is that correct?
Brandon Barnum 35:35
Yes, definitely. That's part of it. And from a sales correct perspective, this comes out of the book, “Why they buy”t, this is about someone's biology and I don't mean B I O, I mean, B U Y ology, okay? So if you understand how they, how their mind works, then you understand how they make decisions, including buying decisions. So for you, Dave, and, and quite frankly, for you to Botond, if you are working with a prospective client, you want to understand what they're looking for and speak in their language. It's almost like, if I were going to start speaking, like if you only spoke Spanish, and I'm speaking English, you can't understand me, it just doesn't resonate, doesn't land for you, I'm speaking a different language. Well, the same is true when it comes to relationships and often we speak in our own code, because that's how we're hardwired. When it comes to sales and even service. It's not about us, it's all about them. So once you understand how they think, now you can really serve them in a way that helps everybody win, and you close transactions much faster, because you're helping them get the information in a way that really lands for them.
Dave Erickson 36:56
I kind of, we kind of have some examples of that we do a bunch of work for, say marketing agencies, who need us to develop landing pages or projects for internal tools. And a lot of times these marketing agencies, the person leading the project is one of these very creative types, because that's who he's dealing, dealing with clients who who want creative types and come up with ideas, they're not really into the details are kind of, you know, loosey goosey, throwing out ideas, seeing what sticks and creating ideas and concepts. And yet, they have to then switch over and manage a team of developers who are all you know, data oriented, and detail oriented, and they need, you know, SOW's and everything. And they struggle, right? And we recognize that. So we've been able to make sure that we have a developer who kind of can interpret these things and doesn't get frustrated with ambiguous, you know, goals versus detailed goals, right. And I assume that in the sales process, or just working with others, that's also part of it is trying to understand that, correct.
Brandon Barnum 38:11
It is not only understand it, but speak to it. Right? If you know that you've got a marketing agency, which is a great example of a referral partner for you, right, you probably get a considerable amount of business, through marketing agencies. So you know, if I were consulting with you on business development, I would tell you to go find more marketing agencies and help them build the tools their clients need. Again, get real, and maybe you've got a one sheet that's just about how we help marketing agencies win. Now, why am I using that language? Because high actions like to win, right? They're all about winning. And so if you speak in their language is going to resonate with them, okay, well, we want to win more business, we want to be the best, right? They always want to be the best. And so you can create that language that appeals to them, which they then share with others. But depending on your personality, if you've got a high blueprint, client or prospect, they need to understand step by step in your proposal. So what we recommend is that you actually create different versions of your proposal, like have an opening page that kind of nets it out, the high action, they're going to just scan that real quickly. Okay, looks good. Sounds good. But when you think about it, these personalities, the high nurturing and high action, they tend to go on their intuition. They're gonna use their gut. How does it, how do I feel about a thing, where when you've got somebody that's high blueprint and high knowledge, you guys for example, you're gonna go on the information, right? Don't sell me a story. Give me the data, the facts, the evidence, the proof. Is that stuff…
Dave Erickson 39:57
Just the facts, man.
Brandon Barnum 40:01
As right now, and if you say the wrong thing to the right people, you're not going to get the result that you're looking for. So it's really about learning how to present properly, so that you're customized again, your conversations and your presentations, for your prospect to serve them. It's not only about selling them, but it really is, service, because when you speak their language, you know, they can hear the orchestra playing in the background. It's beautiful music for everyone involved.
Dave Erickson 40:32
So we've talked a lot about referrals, particularly in reference to b2b businesses. But maybe we can talk a little bit about referrals in a b2c situation, you're a business, and you're dealing with a bunch of consumers. How, you know, how does referral work there? How do you ask for a referral from consumers or from a lot of people coming to your website or whatever your, your transaction platform may be? How does that differ from say, b2b?
Brandon Barnum 41:03
You know, the principles are the same, quite frankly. And in my book, “Raving Referrals”, we go through all of this, but really, one of the things that we teach is to automate The Ask, we talked about the art of the ask. And that's when you're personally asking someone for a referral and setting the stage and listening for the referral triggers. But you can also automate The Ask. One of the things that we recommend people do is to incorporate a referral card into their business, right, have a practice where every one of your clients and customers receive something from you that they can share with others, that gives the gift of you. You know, the reason that we create these referral partner blueprints is not just for our clients and customers, but they share them with all of the people that they're building relationships with, because it tells them what to say who to partner with, and it kind of gives them something they can give to others. Besides that, really, when it comes to the consumers, it's about finding the people that are already serving your perfect prospects. And that's what I learned in the mortgage business. Right? I had a mentor that said, I was asking him, Okay, where do I get this business? I'm just getting started, I'm in my 20s. At that point, I had no network, I didn't know anybody. And you know, I was basically broke, I was bouncing my mortgage checks, I had to make a change. And so I found somebody that taught me how they were successful. And their success all came from building relationships and partnerships with other people that were serving your perfect prospects every day. Okay, so if you're listening, right now, think about where do my clients go, who are who is already in relationship, serving my clients. And then what you want to do is you want to become the solution to those people, so that when their clients come to them asking about your business, your industry, that you're the only one they recommend, and now you become the solution that they recommend to their clients.
Dave Erickson 43:10
This is going to kind of come a little full circle. So since you mentioned mortgage and home and consumer, I assume you're using a lot of this in what you're doing with HOA.com. Can you maybe talk a little bit about some of the strategies of referral that you're using with HOA.com? And, and what are you trying to do with it? ,
Brandon Barnum 43:35
Yeah absolutely. So we're building HOA.com to be a real estate ecosystem, kind of like next door, meets Angie's List meets Zillow. So we're creating community pages for every neighborhood in America and we're selecting trusted professionals that we do the background checks we vet and then we promote them as the top trusted Pro for those local neighborhoods and that could be realtors, mortgage insurance, financial planners, painters, plumbers, and the list goes on and on. We help those pros create their referral partnerships and actually automate their co-marketing. One of the big challenges that we've found when it comes to referrals is that people go to these BNI groups or chambers of commerce, and they meet some great people. And they'll even have a one on one. They'll sit down for coffee or lunch and they'll, they'll like really get along and agree that they want to work together and cross promote each other. But then nothing happens because they don't know what to do next. And so they start scouting for referrals, like we talked about earlier, they're on the lookout. And if they come across a client or customer that can use that other person's services, then they recommend them as the solution for that client's challenges just like we've been taught, but I'm talking about. But more importantly, what we teach is automating your co-marketing. And so what we built is a system called HomeSafe, where you upload your client database into our system. And every month, we send out a home safe report to all your clients from you to them. So it's branded for the Pro. And it really gives the homeowner their valuation of their home, that changes every month. So your home value went up or went down. And it also includes your trusted team, the professionals, we want to be where to go to find a pro, right like AAA for your home. So we recommend those local trusted professionals. So the homeowner has one place to go to hire a pro. And then it also includes like, local events and news. So it provides the, the homeowner with a lot of information and value. And it comes branded from the Pro and the best part is, as one professional sends it out to their database. And they've got, let's say, 10 partners that are also sending it out to their respective databases, you get a lot more promotion because everybody's promoting everybody else. And the best part is, it's all automated. You set it up one time, and it's on autopilot ever, ever since then.
Dave Erickson 46:26
You keep referring to a book about referring. Maybe you can talk a little bit about your book, just so people can know “Raving Referrals”?
Brandon Barnum 46:36
Yeah, absolutely. So I wrote raving referrals, because I needed to have a blueprint for all of the professionals taking what I've learned over 26 years and putting it into practice. I've closed over $500 million in transactions by referrals. And so the book "Raving Referrals”, walks you through the process, and there's so much gold in that book, there's things that you can put into practice immediately that will drive business right now, like the appreciation challenge is one of the things that we have in the book. And this is just a quick exercise that you can, you guys can all do. And really it's going through and looking at your top relationships that you want to add value to, because the fortune is in the follow up. A lot of people have, have a lot of amazing contacts in their phone that they never reach out to and if you're not following up and following through your competitor is so the fortunes in the follow up, make sure that you're reaching out to the people that you want to build relationships with your community, your tribe, your client base, however you look at that. And then the appreciation challenge is basically reaching out to some of your top partners or people that you want to build relationships with. Just sharing with them how you're appreciating that, right and it could be a text message that says Hey someone was just asking me who I appreciate most, and you came to the top of my mind, right? Something simple like that, or I was just telling somebody about you and how cool your solution is or service you are whatever that looks like just sharing the love. You'll be amazed if you do that with 10 people, you're going to instantly be in conversation with a number of them that can lead to great business opportunities. So there's all kinds of things in the “Raving Referrals" book, including the 21, top co-marketing campaigns, because again, most people have relationships, but they don't know what to do next. That's what the book is designed to, designed to do.
Dave Erickson 48:46
And you can get this I assume from Amazon, is there a website or other things people can go to?
Brandon Barnum 48:51
Yeah, you bet you can go to Amazon. And if you search for raving referrals, you'll find it. You'll also see raving referrals for dentists. That's our second book. And very soon you will see raving referrals for Mortgage Pros. And we're coming up with a whole series of books for specialty industries, because again, my mentor wrote those Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the reason he sold 600 million books is because he's got niched offerings for different groups and so we're doing the same thing. So yeah, you can find those on Amazon and you can also go to raving referrals.com. And there you can take the referral score quiz and I'd recommend everybody take one to two minutes; you can even go to referral score quiz.com and that will help you self score how you rate on a scale of one to 10 on the 10 referral best practices. And typically what happens is somebody scores really high in a few of them, and then they score like a 1 or 2 on others because it's a blind spot and the beauty of the full score quiz is instantly, instantly within two minutes, you're going to know some of those blind spots that you can improve upon, that will make a big difference in your business.
Dave Erickson 50:09
So it seems to me that referrals don't happen magically, you have to actually work for them.
Brandon Barnum 50:16
I say they do happen magically and when you put a system in place, they happen consistently, right? Because magic is like, you can't necessarily count on it. Most people get business by referrals, but they don't really have a system. They don't know how to get referrals. What if there was a way that you could manufacture referrals on a consistent basis? That's what we teach in the "Raving Referrals” book.
Botond Seres 50:43
Brandon, what trends do you foresee shaping the future of referral marketing, and sales and sales?
Brandon Barnum 50:51
Yeah, so for us, we're building that future, inside of raving inside of refer, sorry, HOA.com, I was gonna say raving referrals, which is part of the process and part of the system. But really, what we're doing is we're creating a referral card. We want to have a referral card, like your digital business card that people can share you with, easily when they have anyone that is needing your system. So that's something that we're currently developing and launching January 25 2024. So we're creating the world's largest Alliance; we're actually going to set the world record for the largest networking event happening in person all over the country. So that's going to be super exciting. But for us, we believe that the future is really, close relationships. And it's building a deeper relationships with their clients and customers, and helping them understand why they should do business with you. Part of that is we're building in charity champions so that people are sharing the charity or cause that they love most and by sharing what you're passionate about, you're really going to attract people because Your vibe attracts your tribe. And so we believe that the future is very high tech, and also very high touch; the deeper relationships you have, the more relationships you'll have
Dave Erickson 52:20
That networking event that's going to happen on HOA.com.
Brandon Barnum 52:25
It'll actually happen at worldlsargestalliance.com. That's the website that we're building right now that leaks HOA.com. But by the time of this recording, that will be a completely separate website. HOA.com is not the star of the show, we are just helping local event coordinators have their own event in partnership with us. But quite frankly, they're the star if somebody wants to create their own event, they'll be able to help set the world record. And we're even going to follow up with a digital badge that they can post on social media, add into their email signature, letting people know that they have helped set the world record. So it's not about HOA.com. It's all about them.
Dave Erickson 53:11
And if somebody wants to participate in that, how do they do that?
Brandon Barnum 53:16
Yeah, go to worldslargestalliance.com, you'll be able to sign up as an event host, we'll give you a whole blueprint of how you hold your own event and we'll be doing those on a quarterly event. So even if you hear about this, after that first event, you'll be able to sign up for subsequent events.
Dave Erickson 53:35
Great, great. So Brandon, thank you so much for this great discussion on the power of referrals and how to use them to grow your business. Well, that's about all the time for this episode today. But before I go, I want you to think about this important question.
Botond Seres 53:53
How are you going to get referrals to grow your business?
Dave Erickson 53:56
For our listeners, please subscribe and click the notifications to join us for our next ScreamingBox technology and business rundown podcast. Until then, refer somebody!
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