Building Profitable Referral Relationships: Qualifying Your Referral Sources

GettyImages-1149683525Last time, we detailed the types of questions you need to ask to both demonstrate your value to the allied professional and to quickly determine if working with the professional will be of value to you. Now let’s discuss the latter topic a bit further. What are some of the red flags you should look for? That is, how can you determine whether the referral source in question is a “fit” or a “mis-fit?”

First and foremost, you need to know whether the professional is willing to meet again and follow specific actions you find helpful in generating a profitable relationship, such as attending one of your workshops. Similarly, you must know that the professional will tell his or her clients to contact your firm or attend a workshop. If they won’t follow your process, or don’t follow through with their commitments, the best course of action is to walk away. Or better yet, run away. How can you have a profitable relationship with a professional who is not interested in your needs or learning the basics of the services you have to offer?

As you meet with your target professional, you’ll also want to ask yourself the following question: Does this individual have the “heart of a teacher” or the “heart of a salesman?” You want to forge referral relationships with the former. Also, does the professional have poor communication skills, that is, does everything seem to be about him or her? This is another red flag.

The fact is, you only have so much time. Don’t make the mistake of believing that you can turn a prospective referral source around to your way of thinking. Maybe, with a great deal of time and effort, you can. However, your time is better spent on professionals with whom you have synergy and who can identify your value quickly!

One more thing: If all goes well during your meeting, be sure to specify exactly what the next steps in your relationship will be. “Great meeting you, I’ll be in touch” is not an effective way to end the meeting. Success depends on creating a plan for how to work together that produces results, not having a nice first meeting.

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