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Need Referral Partners? You Need A Plan

salesperson on the phone

Do you have a prospecting plan for getting more referral partners?

Throughout many industries, sales professionals get the majority of their leads from referrals. In fact, no matter what business you’re in, there are referral sources who are in direct contact with your ideal client. 

If your sales business depends on referral partners (also known as “channel partners” or “business partners”), your prospect list could unexpectedly dry up—unless you have a plan!

Often, a salesperson only has a handful of productive referral partners. Over time, these partners retire or change jobs, leaving the salesperson to frantically search for a new relationship to provide them with business.

After they find a replacement, the cycle starts again—referrals for a while, then a month or two of scraping by when the referral partner quits or starts working with someone else.

Luck is Not a Strategy

Prospecting without a plan isn’t efficient or effective. Salespeople often attempt to contact potential referral partners with a broad, undisciplined approach, calling too many people, and calling them too infrequently to build any sort of relationship.

We’ll use the mortgage business as an example:

Real estate agents get 10 to 20 calls a week from mortgage loan officers asking for referrals. In such a competitive environment, a Realtor can easily ignore these approaches. A loan officer reaches out, follows up after a month, and gets nowhere.

The loan officer might try again with another batch of real estate agents a few months later, but until they lose one of their current partners, they’re likely to give up. They may only add one new agent a year to their list of referral partners, on average. They basically rely on chance to grow their business!

Luck is not a strategy. One new partner a year is simply not enough!

Prospect With Purpose

To avoid running out of leads, salespeople need a strategic prospecting plan to drive new referral business. By learning to develop and implement a multi-step prospecting plan, your sales team will be able to convert prospects into new referral partners at an amazing speed.

With this proactive approach, you stay ahead of the referral partner cycle. Your pipeline stays full, so losing a partner now and then doesn’t impact on your bottom line.

How To Build A Referral Partner Prospecting Plan

A successful strategy for getting more referral partners identifies the who, what, where, when, and why of the prospecting process.

  1. Identify a short list of people you want to target. “Short” does not mean 40 people!
  2. Decide on the methods you’ll use to reach out to them—phone, email, text, and so on.
  3. Identify the reasons you’ll have for reaching out to them. 
  4. Build a strategy for when and how often you’ll contact them. Consistency is the goal.

Using this framework, Skillway creates detailed prospecting plans for all of their relationship-based sales clients. Every strategy is different. Property & casualty insurance agents call on loan officers. Loan officers, interior designers, and contractors call on Realtors. Medical reps call on doctors and clinics. Every industry has referral sources that should be prospected!

Real Results

Skillway sales consultants have developed a group coaching program that teaches salespeople how to use the power of a prospecting plan to get new referral partners. Over the 12-week course, salespeople put a 12-month plan into action, applying the process with real-world prospects.

A lending company’s sales team recently completed a prospecting plan training course designed by Skillway. Thanks to the real-world implementation of the plan during training, the results were immediate—and impressive.

With 13 loan officers and just 12 weeks, the team added 32 new Realtors. With the power of a new prospecting plan, one person brought in seven new referral partners in that short amount of time! 

At the end of the training course, the team had 81 new leads, five loans under contract, and seven loans funded from their new referral partners!

Of course, the mortgage business is only one of many industries that can benefit from a referral partner prospecting plan. Could your sales team use a custom-designed prospecting plan to get more referral partners?


Whether it’s sales team training or individual sales coaching, Skillway has the real-world expertise to develop a prospecting plan that’s right for you. Reach out today to find out how Skillway’s tailor-made solutions can take your sales business to the next level.