One of the nicest business gifts we receive is a referral from a happy customer. When we receive a warm introduction, what is the best way to respond? One of my coaching clients presented this question in a recent session. Coincidentally, I had recently received a referral and introduction from an existing client. In fact, about 90 percent of my clients have referred me to other business owners and leaders who are seeking strategy & growth coaches.
I led my client through the steps I take when I receive a referral.
Step One: Thank your referral source.
Your referral source has gone out on a limb for you. Their credibility and reputation is at stake. The first step is to properly thank them in a private email (not including the other party), expressing that you understand their credibility is on the line, and that you appreciate the vote of confidence.
Step Two: Do Your Research
Before replying to your new prospect, do your homework. With my recent referral, I:
- asked my referral source why she thought I was a good match for her contact
- visited my new prospect’s LinkedIn profile
- visited my new prospect’s website
As this was a CEO of an established company, I wanted to learn about her leadership, the company’s management team, core values, customers, solutions, etc.
Step Three: Reach Out
Once you understand why your referral source has connected you with your prospect, and you understand your prospect’s environment, you are ready to reach out. My philosophy (which I share with my clients) is that we should strive to add value at every opportunity. In your email, convey that you have done your research, by mentioning specific information about your client/organization that resonates with you and aligns with your solutions. Perhaps you have worked with a similar organization to solve a challenge they are facing. Perhaps you are working with another company that would serve as a good introduction for them. Rather than simply asking for a meeting, work to establish connection and trust from the first exchange.
When asking for a meeting, suggest multiples times/dates in a location that is convenient for them (their location should be on their website). As an alternative, suggest some times for a phone call.
Step Four: Keep Your Referral Source in the Loop, Following Their Preferences
It’s important to keep your source in the loop, in a way that makes sense for them. Do they want to stay copied? Do they want to drop off from the email chain? Do they just want updates? Do they want nothing? You won’t know if you don’t ask.
Step Five: Follow Up with an Appropriate Thank You.
If this referral becomes, a customer, an appropriate thank you is in order. I have expressed my appreciation with these gifts:
- Restaurant gift cards
- Spa gift cards
- Overnight stays at a nice hotel
- Fruit baskets (chocolate covered strawberries or Edible Arrangements)
- A 6-month wine subscription
And of course, I enthusiastically refer all of my clients often because they are all amazing.
Referrals are keys to a golden kingdom of business. We should always acknowledge and appreciate the specialness of a referral with appropriate thank-you gestures, follow-up, and of course delivery/execution.
I would be remiss if I did not extend gratitude to my close friend, mentor, and fellow Mastermind group member, Bill Cates, who is the King of referrals. Bill has more than 30 years experience helping individuals, small & medium sized businesses, and Fortune 500 organizations exceed their sales goals with his proven referral strategies. As Founder and CEO of Referral Coach International, and as Creator of Referral Academy, Bill is your go-to expert for all things referrals, and I am so fortunate to have him on my speed dial for many reasons.
Keep growing, and good luck with your referrals!
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