How to ruin your chances of referrals

During a discussion with a group of networking contacts recently, I realised that we all knew at least one person who was ruining their chances of getting referrals just by trying to be seen as a ‘jack of all trades’.

It is easy to become unnerved by the slowdown in business but staying true to your business and its core offering is crucial if you want to be seen as a credible supplier and stand a chance of being recommended by others.

Here are some of the most common ways in which businesses are ruining their chances of getting valuable referrals:

Promoting a different business or service every time you meet them

This will lead to no referrals because they are not specialising in one area, which will eventually lead to confusion in professional stance and ultimately it will ruin their credibility with others.

For example, if you wanted to find a leadership trainer, and found a good one with great testimonials, but also promoted themselves as a sales trainer, communication expert, teacher of presentation skills, change management and facilitation, would they really look at you as a credible leadership trainer? After all, how can you expect to be seen as expert in all these areas? The result is no credibility and no referrals.

Delivering a poor service and then not putting it right

I shouldn’t have to mention this one, but sadly it happened to one of my contacts in a networking group. Then what happened? That’s right, he told everybody! This is not the ideal situation when you need people to talk about how good your products and services are. The result was an instant loss of future referrals.

Selling to the group without doing any prior qualification

I always remind people of the following statement: the people in a networking group are your route to market, not your target market. This means that until they are properly qualified they do not require the hard sell. If you do, the result will be people avoiding you.

Publicly asking for help and advice, then arguing with it, or not doing anything about it

This has two effects on the person you are seeking help from. Firstly, the initial impact on the person that tried to help is “well I won’t bother wasting my time like that again!” But it also might communicate a form of one-upmanship – you don’t need to ask for help if you are only going to ignore the advice given, this will also demonstrate that advice was not needed in the first place, but that you thought you knew better! This doesn’t create a great overall impression does it?

Not giving (but expecting) referrals

I’m not talking here about “oh, you should really talk to xyz, he might know people that need your help”, but proper referrals – a qualified introduction to someone that needs your help (and is willing to pay for it). Result? People get fed up with your taking attitude and don’t bother with you.

Not connecting with people at a deep enough level

Until people really understand what it is you do, how can you expect them to give you referrals? Let alone trust you enough to refer you into their biggest client, where their reputation and credibility is on the line? So make sure that you are coming across as the leading expert in your field – and add some confidence in there too!

Are any of these points familiar? Is this you, or someone you know? If so, make sure the above tips are put into place, and watch your sales soar!

I look forward to hearing how you get on!

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