Has anyone ever given a referral to another member and the member never followed it up? Or they took too long to follow it up?
It may happen surprisingly often. Why? Following up on referrals is so important is that it is the 4th of our code of ethics that we agree to when we are inducted. Remember this? “I will take responsibility for following up on the referrals I receive”
Why is it so important that it’s part of the code of ethics?
Receiving referrals is one of the main reasons why we are in BNI – why stand up and ask for referrals every week if you don’t intend following them up?
Not following them up (or not following them up in a timely manner) destroys your credibility with the referrer. If they have worked to get you a referral and you don’t follow it up they will most likely never try and get you another one.
Not following them up (or not following them up in a timely manner) also harms the credibility of the referrer with the referral. When they next meet the referral and ask how the referral went and nothing has happened, their ability to refer that person again can be greatly diminished. Probably they would say something like “am I going to hear anything from this one”?
Why might members fail to follow up referrals?
This is really interesting and these are some of the answers you may receive and a discussion you can have about the answers. There is also one answer you may not receive but is worth talking about.
They waited for the referral to contact them and they never did. Who in the room gets everything they mean to get done, done every day? In today’s world where we are constantly being sold to and most people have time pressure reaching out to the referral is almost always necessary. The exception is where the referrer has said the referral will make the contact but in reality, that’s probably not a qualified referral.
I’ve been too busy to follow up/too busy to do the work. This isn’t a good excuse, taking a minute to communicate with the referral, even just to say you expect to be able to get back to them within a certain timeframe is very good practice if you are busy. Also, most often the work can be scheduled into the future or referred elsewhere. Be careful not to use this excuse as you’ll find at some point your sales pipeline will dry up. It’s also a great opportunity to grow your business capability/capacity.
It’s not a referral that I want. These are crucial to follow up on. You may be able to refer them to someone else and you also need to say “thanks for the referral, it’s not quite what I do, I’ve contacted the person and been able to get them in touch with someone that can help but let’s have a one to one so I can be clearer about the referrals I’m looking for”. It’s also a clear signal to review your elevator pitch to make sure you are being clear about the referrals you are looking for. Specific is Terrific.
There are insufficient or incorrect details on the referral. It’s absolutely crucial to go straight back to the referring member to get the correct information. If, you can’t get the required information from the referrer and feel that it wasn’t a real referral, it’s not out of the question to ask the VP to remove the referral from the system.
This is the one answer you mightn’t get…..
…. there is a little bit of sales psychology involved. Even though members or sales people say they are looking for more business, sometimes there is a reluctance to actually close a sale, especially when it’s virtually offered on a plate. Why is this? Sometimes sales people discount a near certain “easy” sale as being too good to be true but the real reason (sometimes subconsciously) is that once we get a sale, it actually requires us to do some work and do what we say we do. And sometimes we quite like just going along as we are without having to on board a new client or get out and meet somebody.
How can we help make sure the member follows up?
Make sure all the details are in the referral including more than one contact method.
Make sure it is a referral the member wants and can get to, in a timely manner.
Make sure the member knows the urgency of the referral.
Arrange to meet with the member and the referred party if possible.
Ask the member to let you know when they have contacted the referred party and their progress with the referral.
It is important to let the referrer know how the referral is going (whether you secure the business or not). This encourages them to refer again, sometimes they can help further to secure the business and it also helps them understand the referrals you are looking for.
Following up on referrals is a fundamental part of BNI. Referrals are why we are here.
Reference: Podcast Episode 298: Following Up on Referrals