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Solo In Chicago

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Do you keep score of referrals?

Here are a couple of posts here from the Marketing Catalyst blog and here from the Legal Marketing blog. There's some interesting discussion regarding whether or not to "keep score" in your referral network. I think both posts suggest that at some level you need to keep score of who you're referring to. The disagreement only seems to be about how often you're keeping score versus a very long-term mindset that suggests that your referrals will pay off in the long run.

In my opinion, issue one regarding a referral is simply, will my client get the best possible service from the business or individual to whom I'm referring. That's where I struggle when you're in the situation where there are some people who refer business to you, but, to be frank, you don't think too highly of their professional competence in their business. What to do in this situation? I don't want to lose good referers, yet I can't just throw my clients to the wolves to balance my need to refer business. I think my short-term solution has been to sort of show my appreciation to these types of referers in other ways...maybe a lunch out or golf or whatever. It's a tough one...


At 7:04 AM, Blogger RJon@HowToMakeItRain.com said...

Hi Peter,

I've expressed a more detailed opinion over at my blog. In direct response to your comments here though. . .

When there has a person who refers business to me, who I just think is incompetent & I would never refer anyone to them under any circumstance. Quite simply, I just don't refer any business to them because as you say, it's not the best thing to do for my clients.

But I have to respectfully disagree that the best way to demonstrate my appreciation for the confidence they demonstrate in me by sending me business, is to take them to lunch or golf. Rather, what I have done in the past is to make a sales call on them to explore what their unique speciality really is. Very often I have been able to discover a "sweet spot" with a referral source that is not only narrow-enough for me to have confidence, but in many cases, it's exactly the kind of work they prefer to do, but just didn't have the confidence to ask for because they are afraid of missing out on everything else.

In one extreme case, I appreciated the referrals enough to actually sit down with the referral source and tell him candidly why I had not been referring much business to him. I cited specific examples, not just "feelings" or "reputation". I also spent alot of time before that very uncomfortable meeting to think of a bunch of possible ways for him to improve the service problem, or narrow his practice enough to give me confidence to refer that kind of work, and I tried to show him how that kind of work would actually be more profitable for him. I wouldn't exactly say it was the best meeting of my life, but I think he got the point and we are still on very good speaking terms.

Subsequently I moved out of his market so I cannot tell you if my honesty would have been rewarded or reviled, but I believe it was the right thing to do both for him and for my clients.



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