Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5 Tips to help avoid the bad referral

Finding the right fit with a client can be a difficult one sometimes.  We live in the world where the only way to "grow" as a business is to develop new and incremental revenue.  Sometimes we have to learn the hard way when we get referred to someone who doesn't have the positive attributes and values that we may have, but we take them on anyway.

Sometimes we have to learn the hard way.

One of the most difficult things a business person can do is ask for referrals.  I know I don't do a very good job of it.  Today was one of those days where I realize why I don't.

Often times when you get referred by someone you can divide and conquer with your friends and colleagues and find out as much as you can about that particular client.  Do they pay on time?  Do they treat you with respect?  Do they honor their commitments?  Do they let you do your job and what you are best at?  Do they really understand the importance and value of what you do?

And there's those times where you get bad advice, or a bad referral if you will.

Here's some tips on how to avoid getting hooked up with a bad referral.

1.  Go with your gut.  Often times you will know right away if it's a good fit or not.  You can tell right away if the person is controlling, or they think they know more about your business than you do.  If they are seeking you out in your expertise as a professional they can utilize, and they still give you the impression that they think they know more than you do, then you might think about going a different direction.  It's not a good sign.

2.  Ask the right questions right out of the gate.   Don't be afraid to ask hypothetical questions about different situations that might arise.  This will give you a good feel for how that person might react in different situations.  You are running the risk of them telling you what they think you want to hear, but it gives you guidelines to fall back on if the situation does arise.

3.  Try to find mutual friends that may have the inside scoop.  Often times someone may refer you to someone because they really don't want to deal with them anymore.  They certainly aren't going to tell you.  Be careful and try to find as many people as you can that may have the inside scoop or know some people close to the organization.  Hearing one bad story can often raise the red flag to go the other direction.

4.  Talk to some of their clients.  This is probably the best way to find out about this person and how they respond to adverse situations.  Problems can turn into opportunities if they are handled the right way.  We learn more from problem situations than we do from winning ones.

5.  Make sure it passes the sniff test.  It's an old saying but it works.  When you go through these different categories and it still doesn't pass the sniff test then you better think twice about taking on the business.  It's just not worth it.  It's not worth your time, the headache, and the heartache.  There's plenty of business out there to go around.  Don't waste your time on someone who isn't a good fit.

Trust your instincts.  You'll be glad you did.