How to cultivate referrals in a professional way

April 16, 2015 By and    
Ken Albrecht

Ken Albrecht

A man recently referred his landscaper to a business associate but never heard whether it had worked out. The next time he saw the landscaper, he asked him if he had landed the account. “Oh, yeah, we did. Thanks.” That was a poor way to handle a referral.

Let me explain.

You may find it awkward, but referrals need to be asked for. Once a customer refers a potential client, let them know you have made the initial contact and are making progress. Once they become a customer, write a brief thank you note to express your appreciation for the referral. It may be appropriate to include a credit to their account or a gift card, but keep it small. The best referrals are sincere reactions for exceptional service, with no reward in mind.

If you decide you don’t want to accept as a customer the person who was referred – due to poor credit or because they don’t fit your ideal profile – call the customer who made the referral to explain why in a discreet way. Then thank the customer and encourage him or her to refer others.

Referrals are the lifeblood of any business. And cultivating referrals in a professional way respects a person’s freedom to make their own decisions without manipulation. Customers who refer you to a friend are doing you a favor. Be sure to keep them informed on progress and let them know you appreciate their help in obtaining new customers. Then, more new business is sure to follow.

Ken Albrecht is president of Reliable Propane in Clarence Center, N.Y.

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