Within a four-day period, twice I have been in a discussion where someone wanting me to refer a product or service has thwarted the process by getting defensive or being condescending about my questions.
When I sat down to the discussion, my mind was open to, and excited about, learning more about the products and services, so that I might provide more benefit to my clients.
But here’s where both representatives really blew it. They wouldn’t answer the limits of the products or services.
In both cases, because I questioned the one size (set of benefits) fits all – the presenters became defensive and impatient with me. I wasn’t looking to dismiss their offering, rather I was looking to get a crystal clear idea of who would be the ideal client, where to position the offering and how to set expectations.
I am taking a risk in recommending products and services to my clients. If my clients take my advice, spend time and money on something and it is a failure – all of my recommendations become suspect.
1. Don’t beat your referral partner with a benefits only approach
Sharing the benefits of a product or service is important. But as marvelous as a benefit could be for one business, it may not as fabulous for another. The benefit might possibly be universal, but the price point makes it unsuitable for a certain size business. Repeating the benefits over and over again, isn’t going to win hearts and minds, especially if your referral partner believes that you are not helping them to best position the products and services.
2. Don’t refuse to acknowledge product or service downside or fit
Very similar to point one, but with an added danger. When I ask about limitations and I am told, “there are none” – I’m skeptical. Why invite skepticism into the conversation? If you won’t level with me in the initial conversations – how available and helpful could you be to my clients?
3. Don’t alienate your referral partner by pronouncing that they just don’t get it
The truth is – most of the time I don’t get it. If you want someone to be a referral partner, you have to go beyond the canned pitch and answer the questions they have (usually asked with their clients in mind). No referral fee is worth alienating a client.
I want to understand, completely, how things work (or don’t work) in order to make a determination. The better your referral partner understands, the more qualified referral they can make. That saves time and improves the chances of success for all parties.
Like most consultants – I like being the ‘go-to’ source for my clients. But I won’t recommend anything I am unsure of.
The upside of spending more time and giving thoughtful answers is that you develop a referral partner who will be a conduit of qualified leads. They are doing your marketing for you. They are bringing in a prospect likely to consider your products and services without competing service providers. Isn’t that worth the effort up front?