How to handle a referral

Fuel Marketing Blog ImageThe not so secret secret to getting new business is referrals. You cannot receive a better lead than one that has been sent your way with a strong referral. You cannot have a more motivated prospect to your business than someone sent there by a supportive and happy fan.

A lot of very successful businesses are built upon referrals from existing clients. You do a good job for somebody, or show exceptional customer service, and they remember it. The next time that person is asked for a recommendation for somebody in your industry, they’ll happily pass on your details.  If you’re lucky, they’ll make the introduction for you to the prospective client – saying positive things about you to the prospective client whilst you’re there to hear it.

Never underestimate the power of referrals

Worth their weight in gold, I never underestimate a referral’s power ‘nor their value. I am a keen giver of referrals and recommendations to fellow businesses that I really rate because I know they do a great job and can make a difference to the growth and development of a client’s business.

But when you give a referral, what do you expect the recipient to do? Well for politeness’s’ sake you trust that they will thank you and then keep you updated on how it goes. And of course the ideal solution is for the client in question to let you know how things go too and generally be delighted with how they have been treated.

But sometimes, it’s as if people don’t understand referrals and their behaviour becomes questionable to say the least. I recently referred one of my loyal clients to another business – let’s call it ABC Ltd. I emailed them both to do the basic introductions and then sat back and waited. My client thanked me but I heard nothing from ABC Ltd, not even an email acknowledgement.

Keep everyone informed

A whole month later I met with my client who was disappointed in how the communications had fared with ABC Ltd. After my introductory email they had spoken and ABC Ltd had carefully explained the options to my client. My client then asked for some final prices based on her preferred choice for moving forwards. ABC Ltd said then would email something through and then nothing. Yes that’s right, nothing for a month, until I had to nudge them into action and they finally did email the client. But by then my client was annoyed, not at me I hasten to add, but had decided to use another supplier instead, one who would appreciate the value of their business and not fail to communicate the right information at the right time.

It’s not difficult to me. Someone does something for you; you thank them and then keep them up to date with the process. Needless to say I will not ever be referring anyone to ABC Ltd again. So in the end they will have lost out by simply not following simple business etiquette. And because the way you handle a referral will reflect on your reputation and that of ABC Ltd, my mind is made up.

Goodwill is key

The next time you receive a referral – think about how you’re going to express thanks to the person who made that referral to you. You’ve done the hard work by generating such goodwill that they’ve become a fan of yours, so why would you let yourself down by not dealing with the referral in a way that continues to build that goodwill? After all, you’d soon miss those referrals if they stopped coming in.

So for me, it’s as easy as 1, 2, and 3!

1.       Thank the person giving you the referral (it doesn’t have to be a gift just a thank you is fine)

2.       Make contact in a timely manner with the business they have referred you to.

3.       Keep everyone updated with what is happening and when

For help with referrals, recommendations so that you can tap into this invaluable business stream, contact Vicky at Fuel Marketing on 07766 566690 or email