What to Do If You Get a Bad Referral

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The best way to avoid bad referrals is to tell people when they’ve given you one.  Tell them tactfully, but tell them!  If you don’t, you’ll keep getting bad referrals and, to be brutally honest, you’ll deserve every one of them.  I continually run into people who say, “Oh, I can’t tell someone that the referral they gave me was no good.”  I say, You can’t afford not to tell them.”  Be direct, and don’t apologize.  They need to know the referral was bad.

Be positive, and make sure they know it was the referral they gave that was bad, and not their effort.  If you expect the best from people, you’ll usually get it.  If you expect less than the best, you’ll usually get that too.  The best way to ensure that you don’t get bad referrals is to teach people what you consider to be a good referral. This differs for each person, and especially for each profession.

For example, some professionals, such as consultants, counselors, and therapists, consider the opportunity to give a speech to a business group a good referral.  Others, such as printers, contractors, or florists, normally don’t.  You cannot assume that everyone knows what kind of referral you’re seeking.  You need to be very specific about what constitutes a good referral for you.

An exceptionally effective way of making sure you get good referrals is to monitor the referrals you get.  This helps you in many ways.  It tells you how often you get referrals, their sources, quality, status, and dollar payoff.  Having this information helps you focus on the groups that are giving you the best referrals and to reciprocate with the people who are giving you the most referrals.

Have you had to talk to someone about a bad referral they passed your way?  How did you handle it?  Please share your experience(s) in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

5 Pointers on Giving Referrals

Since business referrals are the principal tools and the valued currency of networking, you should make sure that yours are both timely and appropriate.  Here are five important points to consider in giving a good referral:

 

1. Listen for needs from the people you meet.  When you meet someone who expresses a need, tell her you know a person whose business can provide the product or service she’s looking for.  Tell her about your business experience, if any, with that person.  Give her the business card of the person you’re referring, and ask for hers.

2. Ask whether it is okay for the person or business you are referring to call.  This helps determine how hot the referral is.  If she says yes, fill out a referral slip (or use the back of your card) and give it to the person you referred.

3. When giving a referral to someone, be careful not to misrepresent the quality of the referral.  Your honesty about the prospect will be appreciated, even if the referral is tepid.

4. Whenever you have a hot referral for someone, don’t hang onto it.  Call the person you’ve referred right away; hot referrals have a way of cooling off quickly.  Provide as much information as possible about the prospect, including the prospect’s name, address, phone number, occupation, and any relevant information about the product or service the prospect is looking for.

5. Avoid giving bad referrals, such as:

  • News about a meeting for business owners, a chamber mixer, or any other business meeting.  This is an announcement, and potentially good information to have, but not a referral.
  • Providing someone with a better source for obtaining products.  Again, this is good information for someone, but not a business referral.
  • Giving the same referral to three different people in the same profession.
  • Referring someone to a prospect without telling the prospect that you have done so.
  • Giving someone a referral but telling him or her not to use your name with the prospect.

These tips will certainly help you get and stay on the right track in regard to giving referrals and if you have additional referral-giving tips to share, I’d love to hear them.  Please post your tips in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Finding Your Starting Point

If you have little or no experience with referral marketing, it would be a mistake to jump into action without preparing yourself. Central to the referral-marketing process is getting people to send you referrals. To do so, they must know exactly what you do — what product or service you provide or make, how and under what conditions you provide it, how well you do it and in what ways you are better at what you do than your competitors. You have to communicate this information to your sources. And to communicate effectively, you must know the same things.

It may seem a no-brainer; don’t we all know what we do for a living? Yes, of course, most of us do. But can you communicate it clearly and simply to your potential sources? When you try to do so, you may find that you’re not quite as clear on the facts as you thought. And if you can’t tell your potential sources what you do or what you sell, how can they send you good referrals?

Before you map out where you’re going to take your business with your referral-marketing campaign, pause and get a clear picture of where your business stands today. Try to answer, in simple terms, the following questions:

  • Why are you in business?
  • What do you sell?
  • Who are your customers?
  • How well do you compete?

Answering these questions for yourself will help you tell others what your business is about. This will make you more effective at implementing your comprehensive and systematic referral system.

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