This is the elusive success question. We think we would do anything for success, but we all have an answer to: “How much is too much”?
As I spend what seems like my every waking moment building a business that will be my legacy, I often ask myself: “When is it ok to back off the gas?”
The answer for me, at the age of 52, is never. I research my industry daily, I follow the trendsetters, I read everything I can get my hands on, and implement new tactics daily.
I also have a habit of asking for referrals:
“If you know someone who could use our services and you believe that my company could have an impact on the marketing needs of someone that you know, would you mind making the introduction and giving me and my company the opportunity to grow our business and help another to grow as well?”
Now, sometimes this is easier than other times. More often than not, people refer me business weekly, but when I take the time to ask you for a referral, it is because I respect you and your network of people and I would most certainly like to align myself with this circle of influence. This is a way of saying, “you are my kind of business leader.”
Last December, I decided to ask someone who I truly admire if he would mind looking through his dealership contacts to find someone who could use our marketing savvy and give me a referral. He responded with “OF COURSE, I will have that to you by the end of the month.” I was super excited because there are some connections that you make in life that can immediately take your business to the next level.
Well, January 1 came and went, and on February 1st, I asked again. The response was the same: he would gladly take a look at his contacts and determine who would be a good fit. February came and went, but did I give up? NO! You see, because I believe in my product and I know for a fact that I would never jeopardize this connection, asking repeatedly was no problem.
And We Wait…
Spring turned into Summer and no referral was in sight, but every month (sometimes twice per month), I asked again.
Please do not think that this was the only resource that I intended to use to grow my business. No way! I was networking like crazy, going to conferences, following up with everyone I met who may possibly know someone in the auto industry that understood the power of social media for a dealership.
It would have been different if I got the slightest inkling that this person was not interested in referring business to us, but I didn’t get that feeling at all. So, month after month, I returned and asked again. Now, this is not the only reason I met with this man; we had other business we were conducting together.
During this time, I took the liberty to conduct social media audits on twenty dealerships he had great connections with. I then gave him the report with my suggestions on who the first three referrals should be and who needed our service the most. He promised to look at my report and determine who would be the best fit.
Asking for Business
How long would you keep asking for business from someone before you would just stop?
Three months? Six?
It took eleven months of asking before I received just one referral.
For most of you, this probably seems crazy. I mean why would I keep going back and asking? He obviously didn’t have time to decide on a referral or was too busy to help a business partner out…right?
Horse Crap! People are busy, and if something does not directly impact them, they just fall short on time. I understood this about this man, and I also knew that it would be worth the wait if I was persistent enough.
On month eleven, I walked into his office and asked him a few questions.
- Have you ever asked me for anything that I did not deliver for you?
- Do you believe that if you asked me for something in my power, I would do it?
- Have you ever had to ask me twice for ANYTHING?
After he answered me, I slowly looked him in the eye and said two words.
I seriously don’t think he realized that I had been asking him for that long. He immediately told me to get my pen.He would give me a referral right now…AND HE DID.
He also promised a second referral before the month was over.
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
I know that asking for business referrals is uncomfortable. I realize it can be awkward, but if people know you, like you, and trust you, why would they not want to help you grow your business? Perhaps your persistence is lacking? Will you ask a friend for a business referral? Will you ask them for an introduction? You should. Sometimes your friends do not know that you want them to refer business to you, they don’t know that you have capacity or that you value their connections, all because you haven’t asked them. Is it a sacrifice to ask? Maybe.
Hustle and grind are words that we live by because success does not just fall in your lap. There are great businesses that fail every year because entrepreneurs are not willing to sacrifice for their vision. Every day, hundreds of businesses go under, not for lack of vision, but I believe for lack of sacrifice. I saw a meme the other day and it said: “Entrepreneurs, the only people on earth who will work 80 hours a week at their business to avoid working 40 for someone else.”
Trust me, there will be time for relaxation, but when you hit a growth cycle, it is time to double down, max out your resources, and sacrifice. We are building this business in a time when it is relevant and needed. General managers do not have the time to think about social media, but they know that they need to be utilizing the different platforms readily available to them. There are very few graduates coming out of universities trained in social media, so where do dealerships turn? The turn to agencies like mine (or actually mine), because we understand social media and we are very well versed on how a dealership should utilize it.
But do you know why we have this skill set? Because we have spent the long hours needed to master our industry. We have spent days at conferences learning everything we thought might be relevant to the auto industry. We have paid thousands for online classes to help us with all the Facebook changes. We have sacrificed our time and resources to be able to bring the best to the dealerships that we serve now and the ones that you are going to refer to us in the future.
We sacrifice because we do not want to fail.
We sacrifice because we want to build a legacy.
We sacrifice because we are setting an example for our kids.
We sacrifice because our vision is bigger than our discomfort.
Robin Wilson is the co-owner of SCP Agency.
She is a self-proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.