Michael Griffiths – Building a Referral-Based Business | 420


Building a Referral-Based Business

Today Matt is joined by Michael Griffiths, a successful entrepreneur of 7 businesses and the #1 worldwide authority on referral and partnership marketing. Tune in to this episode of Thought Leader Thursday to learn how to accelerate the process of building relationships (even if you’re an introvert!), the biggest opportunity you’re missing to get more clients, and 4 steps you can take to immediately up your referral game.

Building a Referral-Based Business

What You Will Learn About Michael Griffiths & Building a Referral-Based Business

  • Michael’s surprising path to referral-based business
  • One way you’re probably sabotaging yourself without even realizing it
  • How to accelerate the process of building relationships
  • How Michael kills the referral game without attending a single networking event
  • Tips for building a referral-based business… introvert style
  • The biggest mistakes Michael sees people make when implementing his formula of referral marketing
  • The 3 levels of thinking and how to be a Power Thinker
  • The biggest opportunity you’re missing to create relationships and get more clients
  • 4 steps to immediately up your referral game
  • How to access the Referral Training Manual
  • How to contact Michael directly with your referral business questions

Whenever you’re ready, here are a few ways we can help:

Work with me One-on-One

If you’d like to work directly with me on your business… go to REIAce.com, share a little about your business and what you’d like to work on, and I’ll get you all the details!

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  • Join our Badass Investor Program and be a Case Study 
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  • Also, check these out:


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Speaker 1: This is Theriault Media.

Michael Griffiths: The whole purpose of networking, building relationships, creating referral teams is about finding win-wins with people. You’re going to have a whole bunch of people who don’t get this. They won’t respond to you. Well, that’s perfect because you’re not going to be wasting your time with them.

Matt Theriault: I’m Matt Theriault of the Epic Real Estate Investing show and this is Thought Leader Thursday. Tonight I am joined by a successful entrepreneur who has created 7 businesses in the last decade and sold 6 of them. He quickly became the number one authority on referral and partnership marketing around the globe. As he points out, that if you are a part of any networking group, any referral group, or any association, then you are likely leaving 70% of your opportunities on the table. His motto is really simple; look to help someone else before asking them for help.

So, please help me welcome, I’m asking you for help now, please help me welcome to Epic Real Estate Investing Mr. Michael Griffiths. Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael: Yeah thank you very much, Matt. Great to be with you and great to be with the listeners.

Matt: Yes. How is it down under right now?

Michael: We’re coming out of Summertime into Autumn, so we’re going nicely from, let me change it to Fahrenheit for you guys, from the 90’s and 100’s down into the 60’s and 70’s. The body’s not quite sure what’s taking place. It’s saying, “Come on. Stay warm for a few more months.”

Matt: Got it. Got it. It’s so weird that your Summer is our Winter and vice-versa. It’s just starting to heat up here. Excited to have you here as we’re going to get into your business and what you’re up to today, but before we do, let’s talk about what you were doing just prior to your business of referral marketing?

Michael: Lovely. So even if I go back before that, because before our referral marketing business we had a marketing agency. Before that, we were distributors for various products. Our very first business was a cheering company. Before all that, we were primary school, high school math teacher, elite level basketball coach, and that’s probably where I thought my life would always be; teaching kids. Whether it be basketball or whether it be in the classroom. It’s funny how life can take you on different paths and you accept different things at different times.

Matt: Yeah, lots of experience there.

Michael: Yeah, without a doubt. I sort of remember really clearly we had the pleasure of being over in North Carolina, and coaching over there at a collegiate level as well as teaching high school math and coaching a high school team. Completely different experience compared to just the sheer numbers of what we have here in Australia. Remember being off in the University of Hawaii, Head Coaching job, my wife’s mom came down with cancer at the same time, being the only family, back we came. She’s still perfectly fine, but it’s funny how life can change pretty much on a flip of a coin so to speak. You end up in a completely different direction compared to where you thought you were going to be or what you thought you were going to be doing.

Matt: Right. Is that how you ended up doing referral marketing?

Michael: Yeah, well from there that’s where we went. I got back in within months where I’m sick of the lazy teachers. Give me my 30 kids and leave me alone. Make me do stupid paperwork, and things that are completely pointless to actually achieving the end outcome of teaching the kids and that’s what annoyed me. I remember Kate going, “Well, you’ve either got forty more years of it, or go do something else.” So that’s where we went off. Being a teacher, your next natural step is to create a tutoring business, so that was the first business. Never meant to ever create anything and sell it. They all pretty much happened as mistakes, so to speak, great mistakes along the way. Where we ended up in terms of now today is just through the lessons we have learned.

We’ve always been big on how do you leverage into other people’s networks and how do you leverage off the cleverness of other people, rather than trying to do everything yourself. I think too many people get stuck on trying to do everything themselves and put every single hat on, that it’s nearly impossible to really be able to grow in scale if you’re trying to do everything yourself. So from all of those experiences that we’ve got to where we are today, and being able to teach people how to generate more referrals, and use their networks more effectively, and create partnerships.

Matt: That’s good, that’s good. I’m actually really excited to have you on the show. I think there’s a lot here to benefit from this. I’ve talked about it for a while. First I’m on this big kick right now that real estate, and really any business, but real estate specifically, it’s a people business, right? You’re going to be compensated almost in direct proportion to your people skills. When it comes to lead generation, I’ve said that you can go fast by buying your leads, or you can go far by earning your leads. A big part of that is referral marketing and working on your network, so I’m really glad to have you here to talk about this. The caveat that I’ve always said; one goes fast and one goes slow. But when I met you and I started hearing about what you did, you can actually make the referral part of the business go fast, too, just like you would be buying leads.

I don’t know, tell me about that; of how you accelerate that process and the relationship building process.

Michael: Yeah, great. In the end, and we share this for no other reason but where you can get to if you want to and it excites you, we generate forty to forty-five qualified referrals every single day. That means somebody has given us a name and number after speaking to that particular person, finding out they’ve got the pain point that we have the solution to and letting them know that they’ve got somebody in their network who can solve that. Getting their name and number and saying “Michael will give you a call.”

So when you think that you’re getting that many opportunities every single day, of someone who actually (a) wants your call, (b) is expecting your call, (c) when you actually make the call to them is excited and feels honored that you have called them, that’s a pretty nice place to get yourself into. So, for most people that ain’t anywhere close to that many. They book that many in a month. They would be really happy, but for the people who go “Well I want lots of leads a day, therefore I’ve got to use traditional marketing ways,” it just shows you that no, you don’t. You can do this other ways. The big way of making sure that happens is what we call building our referral teams.

So having teams of people around you, who really, in essence, are like your sales team except you’re not paying them. What you’re doing instead is you’re finding ways to help them, because they’re finding ways to help you, so it’s a great win-win collaboration relationship, rather than a paid relationship. What we mean by “building your referral teams” is finding people who sell to the same person that is your end user, your client, that you don’t compete with, to create relationships with.

So if I take the example of one of my guys is actually from Australia but has lived in L.A. now for the last three years, and he probably comes up with at least 2 or 3 deals a week. Now in being able to buy houses, get them done up, get rid of them straight away, and when I think he’s somebody in a brand new city who knows absolutely nobody, and within 2-3 years he has now, pretty much on average, got 3 good deals taking place every single week for the last six months.

How? He found people who would end up serving his end client. He’s looking for people who are going into foreclosure. He’s looking for people who just can’t manage their mortgage anymore. He’s looking for people who, in the end, are just sick of the way their life is and wants different. It’s pretty hard to go and find those people, you certainly can’t walk down the street and recognize who they are sometimes. Unless you want to drive around the suburbs looking at whose house is boarded up or whose house looks like it’s got squatters in it, which is quite a time consuming, you gotta have other ways. What he’s done there, what we’ve said to do, go and find other attorneys, lawyers, foreclosure places, real estate agents, people who would normally serve your client that you can create as partners. So that that way when the opportunity comes along they’re getting the opportunity to you, rather than you having to go constantly out and find the opportunity yourself.

So when you’ve got enough of these people it’s amazing how many new opportunities you get created for you every day, because it’s like you’ve duplicated yourself and got eyes on the ground all over the place, rather than you having to do it all by yourself.

Matt: Mm-hmm (affirmative), I like it. Most people, they really kind of shy away from networking and referral marketing because it looks like work, or they’re very inconsistent with it at best. How do you inspire your clients to get out there and mix it up, and “get dirty?”

Michael: I don’t know with social media these days, that we’ve got to quite do it how we used to do it even ten years ago. I don’t remember the last event I went to as a networking event. I don’t even remember the last events some of our clients have spoken about as networking events, because they just don’t tend to need to go anymore. These days you can pretty much find anyone through social platforms. Reaching out, starting conversations with them from behind your computer is really simple. Then people who are interested and want to speak to you, and you go “Great, let’s do this” and jump on to Zoom where we can see each other, continue the relationship there. So in essence what we’re actually doing here is saving a whole bunch of time. I can have 5, ten-minute phone calls and have really productive five talks, five get to strategize with one another, which would normally in the past would’ve taken me nearly the whole day.

So I think what the big downside used to be was the time and how time-consuming it was. Half an hour to get there. Hour and a half, two hours at the actual event. Another half an hour to get home, half the day’s gone. You don’t want to be doing that too many times within a month because you’re thinking “Where do I have time to do everything else that I’m supposed to be doing?” Where today with the ability of technology, the ability of social media, it’s so easy to reach out to people, and to be honest, probably the better people aren’t even going to events anymore. The people that are going to events are the people who probably don’t quite have the business as yet and they think that this is the way to how to get business. Go and sell my stuff to people. They’re not the people we want to meet anyway. We want to meet people who have the mindset around “Hey, let’s do stuff together.”

I end up saying if we just spend twenty, thirty minutes a couple days a week in finding the right sorts of people. So these days you could easily go “I would love a foreclosure office.” Perfect, well on LinkedIn they’ve got a search bar. On Facebook, they’ve got a search bar. It’s really simple for you just to be able to go and find those sorts of people. Send them a quick little message. I’ll just pretend Matt’s my foreclosure office:

“Hi Matt. Just saw you on LinkedIn here. Thought I’d reach out and say hello. Love to be able to see if there’s ways that we might be able to collaborate; help one another in business. Look forward to speaking to you soon, Michael.”

Again, the whole purpose of networking, building relationships, creating referral teams, is about finding win-wins with people. You’re going to have a whole bunch of people who won’t get this. They won’t respond to you. Well, that’s perfect because you’re not going to be wasting your time with them. You’re only going to get to speak to people who actually want to speak to you, that creating collaborations and win-wins is actually exciting to them, and they’re the people you to spend your time with.

I think these days it is so much easier than what it used to be, and it’s certainly a lot less time-consuming.

Matt: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, the Internet has changed everything, hasn’t it? I wasn’t even thinking about that when I asked the question. It was a good answer. Totally. I was listening to somebody the other day and he said, “Gosh, now that the Internet’s in place, and with the good swing of the economy that we’ve had in the last almost-decade now, if you’re not succeeding right now and making money, you really suck.” Man, I was like “I guess so, huh?” There’s really no excuses anymore, so that’s good.

What are the biggest mistakes you see people make when implementing your formula of referral marketing?

Michael: The big one is being a Transaction Thinker. We talk all the time about our three levels of thinking. The first level of Thinking is Transaction. It’s all about self. It’s all about what’s in it for me, what am I going to get out of this. Unfortunately, and I’m sure you’ve heard many-a-times before, and Matt probably tells you this, that the 5 closest people you’re around they’re going to have the greatest influence on you. Not just with how much you earn but also in the way you think. The questions they’re asking, the conversations they’re having. It’s a different quality when you’re around a different quality of persons. So if you’re a Transaction Thinker, I guarantee you’re around other Transaction Thinkers. Transaction Thinkers will never be successful at this because all they are focused on is themselves.

We talk all the time around having Hunters and Farmers. So Hunter is very much around “How do I get that next sale? How do I get that next kill?” Unfortunately, once you do that, you’ve got nothing to go back to. It’s done. You’ve got to now move on and find the next one. So the Hunter is constantly having to look for next, next, next, next, next. That’s tiring. Eventually, you’re either going to run out of steam or you’re gonna run out of things to be able to hunt. Not a great way to be doing business. The unfortunate part is, we’re taught to be hunters in society, from when we’re young. Getting to the selective school, getting into the best class, be number 1 in the sporting team, be number 1 at this. We’re taught to win, win, win at all costs and don’t really worry about other people.

So unfortunately there when you get into the business world, it doesn’t work really well because in the end you really need to be a Farmer. Someone who plants the seeds, can come back and harvest the crop 4 times a year, that has always got a paddock full of opportunities because they’re planting seeds every day knowing “Hey, it might not happen right now, but I’ll circle back around in a couple of months and I’ll be able to harvest this crop, replant the seeds, and be able to harvest again in twelve months time.” That’s the way of thinking. So if you’re a Transaction Thinker of going “Hey, what’s in it for me? Let me hunt” there’s very little that you’re going to be able to achieve around this.

Our next level of thinking we call is the Power Thinker. The Power Think is very much around “We understand it’s about win-win, we understand it’s about collaboration” but they’re just not quite looking to the future of complete opportunities. They’re looking as a one-off. If I just went, for example, that Matt and I here we’re doing a podcast, we’re building relationships, we’ve got ways to be able to help each other, and if we did that as a one-off, great. We’ve moved out of Transaction Thinking into Power Thinking, but the next level of Transformation Thinking is “How do we do things in 3 months’ time? How do we do things in 6 months? How do we do things in 2 years, 3 years, 5 years? There’s so much more opportunity sitting on the table that most people leave behind because they’re only at the second level of Thinking, and they haven’t taken themselves through that Transformational thinking.

Matt: You’re at the top of your game, you’ve been doing this for a while, you’re very good at it, you teach people all over the world on how to build these referral relationships and these referral networks, so I know you’re aware of all your competition out there as well. What’s one piece of bad networking or bad referral marketing advice out there that you see that just gets under your skin and drives you crazy?

Michael: It tends to come from wonderful business coaches, who get referrals apparently, you just have to go ask your clients “I’ve done a good job for you, so who else do you know who needs what I do?”

So I’ve learned a slight problem around that, and the problem started with I didn’t get Matt as a client with the agreement of “Matt, I’ll teach you this and you pay me, and by the way, can you please find me referrals?” That wasn’t sort of the initial agreement. Without a doubt, you’re going to have so many clients that are just natural promoters and natural walking billboards. They’re going to have no problem in talking about you. Unfortunately, 90 to 95% of your clients aren’t like that. They’re quite introverted. They’re not going to open their mouth.

So therefore, why would you make it an awkward situation that occurred between you and client by asking them for referrals, in which they feel quite awkward in doing that? I just go, why would you put yourself in that position, where you now kill that relationship rather than enhance the relationship? So that’s where I go “The client referral is like the cherry on top.” Quite often, you can use the client referral without even having to ask them for referrals. I talk all the time to our guys.

In fact, we did something earlier in the week with our guys around making sure all of your clients, all of your partners, everyone that is around you, is on your social media platforms, because as soon as they share things for you, they’re giving you exposure. They’re creating new opportunities for you as soon as they mention you; as soon as they promote something of yours. Indirectly you could be getting your clients to help you without having to ask the dreaded question that most people hate asking because they know it’s an awkward situation. Yet, that is apparently how we get client referrals according to the business coaches out there.

Matt: I love that you said that, because that is an awkward moment and a lot of people teach that, too. That’s normal, standard practice. Super. Let’s get practical. We’re not going to focus on so much client referrals, those are going to come naturally, we want to focus on those professional relationships of those professionals that are in our network. Somebody that ideally shares the same client as us but is not competition, right?

Michael: Right.

Matt: What’s someone that’s listening that doesn’t have anybody yet they’re like “Okay, I like this. I’m going to start working on this.” What’s one actionable piece of advice you could give to them to go contact? What should that initial contact, who should it be, and how should they approach them?

Michael: Let me try to fit 4 steps into our one actionable item because it’s going to help you.

Matt: Alright, we got bullet points underneath the headline, right?

Michael: Yeah, correct. So the first thing we’re going to do is identify. That’s step one. Simply ask yourself who else works with my end client? If I think of my ideal client, my ideal customer, the ideal person who I want to be doing business with, who else works with them? Where else do they spend money? Because everywhere else that they spend money is a potential partner opportunity. So that’s the first thing you’re going to ask yourself.

Now get down a whole bunch of different types of businesses, industry’s names. You might not know anybody in particular industries that you’re written down. Not a problem. Go on to LinkedIn, use the search bar, and you will start to find people in the area you want to find them in. So that’s the first step, identify.

Matt: Identify, got it.

Michael: Yup. The second step, ask. We just don’t do a good enough job of asking people. If you don’t ask somebody “Hey Matt, I’m looking at being able to find some referral partner to pass referrals to, is that something you’re interested in?” That’s as simple as what you have to do. Don’t make this over-complicated. It’s either Matt wants to be a referral partner or he doesn’t, and I don’t care either way because I’m asking hundreds of people, not just 2 or 3. So it’s either Matt wants to do it or it’s Matt’s loss. So we’ve got to just ask. The purpose of asking is for someone to either go “Yes” or “No.” We’re not trying to be a giant Labrador, all excited jumping all over them because you’re excited to get a referral partner. It’s just simply, write this down word for word, it’s “Hi name, I’m just looking at being able to create some referral partners to pass referrals to. Is this something you’re interested in talking about?” That’s it. It’s either “Yes” or it’s “No.”

So you can send that via email, you can send that via social media message, you can send that via text SMS. It doesn’t matter, just get a yes or a no. So now you’ve identified, now you’re asked, let’s get into step 3: conversation. So when someone says yes, perfect, now you’ve got to jump on, I would do it over Zoom so you can see each other, quick conversation around making sure we’re on the same page. Do we want the same things? Do we now actually like, trust, want to do things for each other? Do we have the same mindset and values? That conversation, a good 10-15 minutes max, will determine do you actually want to do stuff with this person.

So the mistake people make is they think that they’ve got to have trust as big as the world to be able to do stuff with each other. You only just need a little bit of trust. As soon as you get that little bit of trust, then all of a sudden when you do something for each other, it goes well, what happens to the trust? It gets bigger. You do the next thing in the world for each other, what happens to the trust? It gets bigger again. So don’t miss out on opportunities thinking that you’ve got to have unbelievable trust at the very start. No. You’ve just got to have a bit of trust, and then you can start doing stuff and trust will build over time.

The final step we’ve got to do is train them. So we use what we call the Referral Training Manual. It’s a little 8-page document, I’m happy Matt if you want to give them a link to our document for them to be able to get my template and then they can create their own. If you don’t train your partners, how do you expect them to pass referrals to you? It’s like you hiring a new sales rep, and the sales rep comes in on Monday morning and you say “Hey, great for you to be on board. Go make me ten sales. See you Friday.” It’s impossible. They’re not going to be able to achieve that. And yet that’s what we think our referral partners can do. We’ve got to train our partners for what to listen out for. How do we help people, the solutions that we offer? What to do when the right person comes across their path. There’s so many things that the training manual helps you train your partners so that they can be better referral partners for you.

Matt: So if someone wanted to get that training manual, the training document, where should they go to get that?

Michael: Easiest place to go to, if you just go to referralmarketingguru.com.au. It’s at AU because we’re in Australia.

Matt: You’re going to get that other guy-[crosstalk 00:25:33]

Michael: Referralmarketingguru.com.au and then the second tab along says “Resources.” A whole bunch of great resources on there that people can get, including the Referral Training Manual.

Matt: Perfect, and if someone just wanted to reach out to you directly, should they just go to the same place?

Michael: Yeah, go to the same place. You type in “Michael Griffiths” on just about any social platform and you’ll see our ugly head pop up first in most places. Please come and say hello. Know that we are interactive; that we do respond and that we do say hello to people and we will reach out to you. We’re all about creating conversations with the people who are around us.

Matt: Sweet. You don’t have an ugly head, Michael, you look great. Hey, you know it’s been a real pleasure last month a lot more, and thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your expertise with my peeps.

Michael: Absolute pleasure.

Matt: We’ll do it again, alright? 

Michael: Lovely Matt, thank you very much.

Matt: Sweet, you bet! Alright, I’m Matt Theriault, God bless to your success, and I’ll see you next week for another episode of “Thought Leader Thursday.” Take care.