Referral Meltdown: Don't Destroy a Referral Relationship
October 13, 2014
By Chris Baker
My business is centred around referrals.
Referrals for new team members, referrals for clients, referrals for business purposes, referrals for speaking opportunities, even referrals for needs around the house. We are immersed within a referral world.
If it has become a referral world, then most of us should be really good at it, right?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. We can all learn and get better at referring as well as being referred ourselves, if we identify the important referral red flags early on and strive to avoid them.
Early last week I had the pleasure of having lunch with a contact who, during the course of conversation, knew someone that performed a service I needed. This was fantastic. I avoided flipping through the phone book and would be able to utilize a relationship where trust had already been established, or so I thought. Suffice to say the referral relationship melted down faster than a GI Joe under a magnifying glass (if you have kids or were ever a curious 10 year old, you know exactly what that looks like).
Let's re-live how this referral transaction went down and identify some red flags as we go along to kick start our learning. First, I placed a call to this gentlemen and stated who I was referred by:
Red Flag #1: The conversation began with the service person having no idea who the gentlemen referring him was, and he told me as much. "Who referred me? I really have no idea who that is".
The Lesson: If you are the person being referred and have been out networking lately and you have passed along your information, please be aware that this type of referral situation may occur out of your efforts. Even if you do not recall meeting the person who referred you you may want to avoid admitting that to me. If you show you don't know the person then I immediately worry that no one has actually seen what you do and you were referred to me based on business card only.
Red Flag #2:The person who referred him to me. This interaction immediately identified that the person in my network doing the referring has no idea if this service man is any good. It was abundantly clear they had never actually met each-other other than to perhaps exchange business cards at a business after 5 event.
The Lesson:I cannot stress this enough: Know who you are referring BEFORE you refer them. Just because this is an opportunity to send me information off of a business card you received at the third networking event you went to last week, does not mean the person you are referring is any good at what they do.
There are many books out there right now by networking experts, most of them will tell you, the business card is not enough. Have a real conversation with the person. Remember that, two or three good conversations at a networking event is much better better and far more effective than 96 shifty eyed 'hello's' while looking for the next person to talk to.
Before deciding to refer a person, ask yourself some simple questions:
Would I do business with this person myself?
Would I have this person over for dinner?
Would I recommend them to friends and family?
If the answer is 'no' to any of these questions, then this may not be someone you want to actively refer to others.
It turns out it was even worse in this situation. I asked the referrer what the conversation was like with this gentlemen. His reply was disturbing: "I actually never talked to him. The event gave us a book with copies of everyone's business card who attended and I remembered seeing his card after flipping through it."
So just to be clear here, he could not put a face to a name if this guy was in a crowd and in fact, has never spoken to this person. He felt like he would refer him to me just to refer him and get the check mark. Big red flag.
Red Flag #3:I explained to this service person what I needed and he stated that he could do it but would not be able to give me a quote for a couple of weeks at the earliest. He stated he was "on site at the moment" and would have to call me back when he could look at his schedule. Fair enough, I have been on the road before and understand our schedules are not always at our finger tips. I left him my number and we hung up. To this date he has never called me back to schedule a quote.
The Lesson:Everyone is busy, and if you own a business large or small and become so busy that it becomes difficult to schedule yourself, maybe it is time to expand and hire. But that is a topic for another post.
If you receive a referral from someone, you must treat them like gold. Your reputation is on the line here, not to mention the person's reputation that referred you.Failing to act on a referral or act with proper urgency can have a long lasting ripple effect across the rest of your business.
I am not saying my intention is to go to blogs, and forums and out on the street and shout that this guy is no good. I would not do that. But my experience with him, coupled with other similar client experiences builds quickly. Word of mouth, loud, quiet or otherwise, gets around quickly.
There are more and more instances of 'referral overload' happening these days and I am sure you all have stories of your own you could share; and should share in the comments below. No one is perfect at this.
Know who you are referring and feel confident in the referral. Have a good conversation and get to know them first before referring to others. Ask the above questions of yourself after the conversation.
Understand clearly what the person you are referring to needs. Be certain the person you are referring meets those needs.
As the person who was referred, make sure you know who the individual is that referred you. Don't forget to thank them afterward and reward them with referrals of your own.
Treat a referral you receive and any client for that matter, like gold. This will avoid unpleasant situations later. Make the time for them.
Follow up when you say you will. This goes for all business situations.
Following these and other referral tips you find from networking experts world wide will lead to great success for your business and your ability to refer and be referred!
A referral is so much more than a business card between friends.
About the author: Chris Baker is Director, Buiness Develoment at Freedom 55 Financial in London Canada where he helps to build teams to success. He is a certified professional speaker (Canadian Association of Public Sepakers) and is involved in coaching, leadership development and management.
Don’t forget our elders can suffer in silence too: suicide prevention
Many people think that mental health and suicide are not topics that impact our elders but they could not be more wrong. The data tells us there continues to be an emerging trend when it comes to peop...
Wherever you look these days, not matter the developed country, whole population groups and peoples struggle with the daily grind of life. From children in state care to mental health, from affordable housing to the primary health system and from education to employmen...
For the last few years I have been fortunate to have been involved in the aged care sector and have seen both the lows and highs. Today we live in a world where most of us are living longer thank to more awareness around healthy living, the advancement of better medica...
You can’t go past a news paper, radio show or television news story these days without being flooded by all things Bitcoin or Crypto Currency. Some say it’s the new world of money while others suggest its all just a passing fad. Whatever your position or preference of...