Let’s say that upon getting a business referral, you simply take down the name and contact information of the potential customer from the referral source. Sometime later, you call the prospect and introduce yourself: “Hello, Ms. Prospect, my name is John Businessman. Larry Source recommended I call you. I’m an accountant . . .”
Handling referrals this way, as you might expect, gets minimal results. Your chance of converting the referral into a customer will be greater if your referral source:
- makes the initial contact with the prospect (his acquaintance) to assess her need and, if appropriate, alerts her that you will be getting in touch
- sends the prospect background information about you and your business
- lets the prospect know the nature of his relationship with you
- gives the prospect a brief description and endorsement of your products or services
- arranges to introduce the prospect to you
- follows up with the prospect after you contact her.
Unfortunately, if you don’t ask your prospective referral source to do some of these things, he probably won’t–not because he isn’t willing, but because he doesn’t know how these actions could make a big difference, doesn’t have enough information about you or your business, or simply doesn’t know how.
Make it your goal to communicate to your sources the actions you wish them to take and then provide them with all the materials necessary to accomplish those actions. If you do this, I guarantee you’ll get better-quality referrals that will more quickly turn into actual business.