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Generating Referrals for Future Training Discounts

If you have friends who own their own business or who are professional salespeople, they'll all say that the best way to develop business is through referrals. If a person or business is referred by a trusted friend or colleague, there's a high likelihood that the friend will do business with the referred party. After all, we buy what we know and trust. The unknown is fraught with peril.

Such is life in the world of federal training. Unless you do lots of due diligence or are a very adventurous soul, you probably do business with vendors who you know, like, trust and who have a history of success with you or other agencies.

At Benchmark Training, one of the things we do to gain your trust (especially if you've never done business with us in the past) is to educate you on how to become savvier training officers and buyers. One way to be savvy is to negotiate well. This means speaking the language of the training vendor. We speak the language of Referralese. It's a powerful tongue when used well.

In any negotiation, the first rule is to always get something in return if you give something away. For example, if you ask your vendor to lower the price, the vendor should expect something from you in return for the concession. If they don't ask you for something in return, good for you. They've missed an opportunity. If they ask you for something in return for giving you a discount, you should be armed with a few referrals.

Here's how you do it. Say, "$10,000 seems like a pretty fair price, but we were thinking it would cost a little bit less than that. Right now, your price doesn't really fit into our budget. If you could come down in price - say five or ten percent - we could probably make this work." Note: If you're doing business with vendors whose profit margins are so slim that they're unable to discount, these vendors will not be in business for long. It's one of the reasons why the lowest price is often thrown out in bidding situations - if the price is extremely low compared to the other bidders, it's usually too good to be true.

So then you say, "I have a few friends to whom I could refer you if you do a good job for us. I'll even call them in advance to let them know you'll be calling and that they should strongly consider working with you. If you can come down 5% for this job, I'll give you the referrals after it's completed. Also, if any of the referrals result in business for you, count me in at a 10% discount off your regular prices for the next time I buy training from you. What do you say?"

I can guarantee that the vendor will go for this because now you're speaking Referralese. What have you accomplished through this simple exercise? 1) You've gotten a better price than you were originally quoted. 2) You've guaranteed that the next time you need training from the vendor, you can get it at a 10% discount. 3) You've proven to your vendor that you're a savvy buyer. 4) You've made your friends' jobs easier by referring them to a proven company who can meet their needs when an opportunity arises.

Use referrals to gain present and future discounts. It's a sure-fire negotiation tactic where everyone involved comes out a winner.

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