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Superior work performance may generate referrals from clients whose deals you didn’t close

For most small business owners, referrals are one of their main sources of business. However, your ability to generate a steady stream of referral business involves more than just getting people to recommend your products or services. It involves setting yourself aside as a dependable resource and expert in your field, which is often hard work for some.  That is why whenever a deal comes through a referral source, winning it- or closing it – seems like the only option to ensure a continuation of business from that source.

That was my thinking a couple of years ago when I received a lead from one of my best referral sources who had previously referred more than 10 new clients to me over the previous four years. The referral client was in need of forming a corporation and needed information about the difference in the entity structures and compliance requirements.  I provided a nearly hour-long consultation on the entity structures and ongoing formalities and thought that I was in a good position, particularly because we had developed such a good rapport over the days which we had spoken.

Things didn’t quite go as planned, however. The client decided to utilize on of the nation’s better-known online do-it-yourself document preparers to form his corporation instead. Even though this type of loss is never easy to swallow, I shrugged it off, and thank and apologized to my referral source who assured me that all was understood.

Nearly three months later, I received a call from the client’s ex-wife. She said that he had recommended me because I did a great job in explaining the benefits and ongoing formalities involved in establishing and maintaining a viable corporation- obviously he never mentioned that to me seeing that I didn’t close the deal.  Working with her was an easy and very smooth process. Getting her new corporation set up went well and she was more than leased with the interaction. As a result, she quickly referred a colleague to me- and that was the beginning of a new stream of referrals.

There are a number of things that we can learn from this:

  • Recognize your referrals. Your referrals are the rewards you receive for doing a superior job. Referrals are easy to get when you treat people with respect and gratitude, and deliver above and beyond what you promise.
  • Keep track of referrals. You must know whom to thank, and which referral partners are the most effective in generating new (qualified) leads for you.
  • Say thank you.  The primary reason for failure on the part of new businesses is the failure to follow up. It sounds simple, but following up in one of the most overlooked aspects of building an effective referral network. Often times, incorporating a personal touch into your follow up will often make the difference between window shoppers, and lifelong customers.
  • Referrals multiply. When clients are satisfied, they are grateful to whoever passed on your information, and they reciprocate the gesture by passing it to someone else.
  • Keep in touch. People like to know that you care about them personally and that they mean more to you than just another sale. Down the road, referrals may very well become your friends, but for now they are valuable assets to your business.

How business owners and service providers handle winning and losing a sale can create numerous opportunities for future business. At a time when expectations are high and competition within the service sector is high, business owners have to be ready to go the extra mile to stand out. After all, putting in extra hard work can turn into an investment that brings untold future streams of referrals.