How to handle a bad referral?

Nothing can waste your time more than jumping at an opportunity you get for a project through a someone you know. I’ve been there and going to share with you what to do.

Let me paint the picture for you.

You get this quick, short email that says:

Hey Fred – I was talking with Joe and he is in need of X. I told him about what you do and thought that it’d be best for you to jump on a call with him today or tomorrow. That’s what he said would work for him best. Talk soon, Ref

It’s awesome that Ref was touting your wares right? I mean, Ref knows you, likes you, and trusts you enough to put his reputation on the line and suggest someone to work with you.

Sounds awesome, right? Well…It’s not all awesome.

Why a referral can be bad

Here’s the thing, you have a ton of things going on today and tomorrow with limited time for a call. You have a sales process that everyone goes through too.

You have an intake form or project brief that you have all leads fill out prior to jumping on a call.

But your friend set the expectations with Joe that you’ll be calling to talk to Joe. Ref has you potentially walking into a buzzsaw.

Did Ref properly vet Joe? Probably not. But you want to do right by Ref and Joe. And not set the tone that you are someone who is a flake.

You almost feel bad if you don’t call Joe outright.

Well I want to stop you right there. Don’t call Joe.

Handling the lead

If Joe wasn’t attached to the email, then ask your friend for Joe’s email address.

Then what I want you to do is to send Joe a simple email stating what your process is and a link to your project brief form.

Explain to him that the form is there to get in his words what the project is about and why the project is important to him. Also share that this form helps to make the call as productive as possible.

This will reset the expectation that Joe has and if it’s something that is pressing, there is no doubt that Joe may just get his call today or tomorrow. Only this time it’ll be on your schedule.

Handling the referral source

To handle the referral source is usually the step that’s often overlooked. The reason it’s overlooked is because you don’t want to burn a bridge, hurt a friendship, or just simply ignore the step altogether and hope for the best the next time.

Shoot the referral source an email, a quick one in fact.

  • Thank them for the referral
  • Share with them a glimpse into how best to refer someone to you
  • Highlight who your ideal client is, how you help and ultimately the benefits of working with you.

Then the next time that source sends you a referral, it’ll be a better referral.

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