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Marketing / Attracting new business

8 reasons why I don’t refer clients to you

Because of the nature of what I do, a lot of small business owners come to me looking for help in their business. I connect people daily. But there are frustrations I have that limit my ability to refer clients to you.

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I want the best possible outcome for the businesses that ask me for help. I am a waterfall of referral opportunities and some consultants I’ve recommended tell me I’ve completely filled their sales funnel, and they’ve ended up closing their books. I know a vast number of consultants, and I want to help match you, but sometimes you make it really difficult to for me to refer work to you.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. You vent about clients online

This is such an ugly trait. If you’re complaining about existing clients online, how do I know you won’t do the same with the clients I refer you? I’d find it horrifying to think I’d trusted you to work with a client, to then see you trying to win sympathy points complaining about them within the community.

2. I don’t understand what you do

Perhaps you’ve told me, for example, you’re an accountant, but I don’t know what sort of accounting you do. Suggesting all accountants do tax is like suggesting all doctors are surgeons. Nor do I know the industry you specialise in. I’m much more likely to refer suitable clients, to an accountant who can coherently explain ‘I specialise in ecommerce accounting, and can assist with personal and business tax advice.’

"Answering a question online… gives insight into how you communicate, and how well you can explain a topic."

3. You don’t provide contact details in an easy format

Somewhere along the way, a graphic designer convinced you to get a fancy graphic image at the bottom of your email, that incorporates all your address details. Now if I am forwarding referrals to businesses, I’m not going to waste my time writing out all your contact details.

Likewise, I am not going to copy and paste your graphic image, and send it with multiple images to the potential client – more ugliness and potentially their email solution would treat the images as spam.  Simply respond to me with your contact details, and a one-liner on your suitability to help, in simple text format, that I can easily cut and paste, and forward to the business.

4. You’re not demonstrating your knowledge and skills

There are ample opportunities, via social media, blogging, and networking to display your knowledge and skills. Answering a question online, or writing a blog post helps me understand how well you understand a topic. It gives insight into how you communicate, and how well you can explain a topic. While the person you responded to may not use your services, the community will start to notice that you’re the person who always responds to a particular topic, such as complex inventory management. Eventually, if a problem involves complex inventory management, your name will always form part of the solution.

5. Your LinkedIn profile does not match what you say you can do

Yes, of course, I check your public profile on LinkedIn before I refer you to a client. Set aside time every quarter to keep it updated and relevant. Alternatively, hire a copywriter to help you here – this is an easy fix.

6. You DM me your contact details via FaceBook at 2am on a Saturday morning

Seriously?!? I’m connected with thousands of people across multiple social media channels. If I’ve suggested what channel to respond to me on, please do it that way. There’s a good chance it will get lost if you do it another way. Consider, though, that it doesn’t reflect well on you if you can’t follow a simple follow up request. Plus in my view, responding to me outside of business hours is just bad form.

7. You lack empathy

You’re distant, abrasive, you rub people up the wrong way, you’re sharp, your righteous, you have a chip on your shoulder.

Yikes! That was a bit harsh, wasn’t it? Before everyone I know sends me a message asking me if I am referring to them,  I’m going to add that I know brilliantly awesome highly intelligent people who I‘d paint with this description. You are also probably the first person I want to refer a client to – because you are so detailed and technically orientated – but I sometimes have to have the conversation with you that you need to be EXTRA NICE to this client. EXTRA NICE equals NORMAL NICE in most people’s books. Likewise, I need to determine if the client can cope with your ‘tude. I just don’t want to have the client come back to me crying cause you were harsher than they could cope with.

Recognising that this could potentially be you and could be impacting your earning potential is a great first step. I’m not sure what to even suggest here. Maybe read Dale Carnegie’s classic business book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People?’

8. Appreciation

I’m very appreciative if I can find a good match, however, I do occasionally need to remind myself of the saying ‘Givers need to learn to stop giving, cause takers never stop taking.’

A referral is a reflection on my professionalism and competence. A good referral can nurture a lifelong relationship, a bad referral can be a hotbed nightmare that no-one wants to be a part of. For the sake of your bottom line, please make it effortless for me to refer clients to you.

Heather Smith

is a Chartered Certified Accountant & Xero Accounting Advisor specialising in moving businesses to the cloud, improving productivity and profits. She's written six books including Xero for Dummies & Learn Small Business Start-Up in 7 Days.

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