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Referral Sources

4 Ways to Earn the Confidence of Your Referral Sources

By David Ackert on February, 7 2018

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David Ackert

David Ackert is the president and CEO of Ackert, Inc, the company behind PipelinePlus.

It’s natural to look to our referral sources for business, but the fact is that we won’t see much value from them until we earn their confidence. (After all, who wants to refer their client to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing?) Traditionally, this takes time. Lots of time. Many of my best referral sources have known me for years, and we didn’t exchange much business until at least a year into our relationship. Neither they nor I were inclined to refer until we were confident in each other’s abilities, and because we were not in the market to engage each other’s services, we had only a conceptual sense of one another’s expertise. Sure, we could reference pedigree and background, but they weren’t the same as firsthand experience.

colorful stick figures saying "referral" in speech bubbles

Since the notion of waiting a year or more for referral business is not very enticing, use the following means to accelerate the timeline:

  1. Whenever appropriate, ask your clients and referral sources to write LinkedIn recommendations for you. Nothing bolsters credibility like praise from your peers.
  2. Invite your referral sources to your next client event or any other forum where they can hear your clients rave about the results you have produced for them.
  3. If you write articles, distribute them to your referral sources as a demonstration of your work product.
  4. When you give presentations, invite your referral sources to attend so they can see you in action.

Use these techniques to demonstrate your expertise to your referral sources. Like your prospective clients, they need a sense of your competence before they will do business with you.


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