Tracking A Referral

Tracking A Referral

Referrals are a great way to do business, they give you the opportunity to get in through the front door with a warmed-up prospect who is looking to source what you do. In business, it really doesn’t get much better than that but, how do you know when you have given a referral, if it was right for both parties and was it a win-win situation.

If the referral is for yourself the answer is simple, you get to see first-hand what the other Chapter member does and how they deal with you, but what do you do when you recommend someone to someone else, a close friend, customer or family member?

I have heard some members say they will never pass on a referral unless they have used the other person’s service personally. I think that this is a strange policy, especially (for example) if you have a funeral director in your Chapter.

It is impractical to use everyone before referring them. You are limiting the referrals you give and quite frankly you are insulting the professionalism of your colleagues. Your role in the group is to learn about your fellow members and prepare yourself to refer them as and when the opportunity arises.

If you have experienced your colleague’s services or products, it will certainly make it easier for you to refer them, but it is not essential. I have said it throughout this book, networking is a participation sport. If you do not actively get involved and prepare for the game, you are never going to succeed at finding referrals.

Networking is a participation sport

Giving someone a referral shows trust. The people we refer the most tend to be close friends, family members and more importantly customers or suppliers. If you do not trust the company you are referring to them you could be headed for trouble.

You should ask yourself, what would happen if one of the two parties in this relationship lets the other down, how will it impact on your relationship with both. If the customer mucks the member around you know they will not be happy, and vice versa.

Each part of this dilemma is easy to solve, firstly by having a program of regular recon meetings with your group colleagues, you will know what they can do and from listening to their feedback from other members who have used or recommended them, you will know if you can trust them. But if you do have a referral you think they may be interested in but you are not sure, why not book a recon with them this week? You can get to know them better and then if appropriate, you can pass on the referral. But remember referrals have a shelf life so don’t let the opportunity slide by.

It is important that you do not see passing on a referral as a fire and forget exercise. It is essential that you follow it up yourself. This doesn’t mean you jump in, with all guns blazing, and try to project manage the working relationship the referral creates, far from it. It means that you make a couple of phone calls about two days after the referral has been passed. The first is to the person you referred, to find out if your group colleague has called them (you would be surprised to find out how many referrals go unanswered), and the second is to the member to check (even though you already know) they have called and if the referral was of the right nature. Remember that your reputation is on the line here too, as you need to know you are not wasting anyone’s time by referring the wrong people, to the wrong people.

If your group is using the system you can track referrals on your phone to make it easy to follow them up.

Following this, about two weeks later, you should make a phone call. This time it is to check if you did the right thing introducing them to each other. Passing a referral can be like setting up two close friends on a blind date, if you get it wrong you are the one that may look like the fool, so just check with them that the referral was right. They may not have done business or will ever, but at least if you know you set the right people together, your confidence in doing so in the future will be strengthened.

If you don’t follow up on the referral to ease it on its way, you might get a call from the person who was the subject of the referral complaining that the person hasn’t called them yet. You need to call the member in question and ask why not. Yet more time passes and you get another phone call, ‘They still haven't called me, I have gone elsewhere’. You make apologetic noises but your relationship with that person has been damaged because they feel let down by someone YOU recommended, their trust in you has been dented, so what do you do?

You have to be diplomatic but you do need to find out why, so the only recourse you have is to ask the member why they chose not act on the referral. They may have a valid reason for not wanting to do business with the referred person, but there is no excuse for not contacting them or if they couldn’t do that, contacting you to let you know why. Your relationship with that member has been damaged by their inaction and unless you know why, you will probably never get them a referral again.

Being able to find a referral for a fellow member is a gift, however it is a gift you never completely loose ownership of. Irrespective the outcome, it is essential that you monitor the results from the referrals you give and take ownership of them, even after they leave your hands.

Module Actions
Always follow up on referrals given
Stay interested, but not involved