Getting referrals is all well and good, but how do you get quality referrals? There are really two parts to that question. The first part would be to define what makes a quality referral and the second would be how to handle the referring client so that you get those quality referrals.
The only way to make sure you are getting the types of referrals you need and want is by telling people EXACTLY what you are looking for. That means sitting down and figuring out who your ideal client is and then crafting a message that will convey this to your clients and referral partners. Until you figure out what makes a high quality referral for you, you will continue getting poor quality referrals and you will have no one to blame but yourself.
One thing I have done in the past is I have gone to my best clients and referral partners and told them that I would like people exactly like them. It may seem silly, but it works because overall people tend to hang out with those who are like them. So, if you want high quality referrals go to high quality people. But again, you must have a well crafted message that portrays to them EXACTLY what you are looking for. (i.e. business owners between the age of 30-40 who have children in the XYZ School Corporation) The more precise, the better. You may get less referrals this way, but they will be better quality referrals.
So how do you talk to your client after they have given a referral that isn’t a good quality referral? I believe honesty is always the best policy. Simply let them know that it wasn’t a fit for either of you. Odds are they may already have an idea of the type of person they referred to you. They were simply trying to be helpful to you.
Be sure to show them your appreciation. If you haven’t already sent a thank you card, do so. You may even include a small gift card to Starbucks just to encourage them to continue referring even though this one didn’t work out. Then, let them know what would be a good quality referral for you in the future. They will appreciate your honesty and are more likely to refer again in the future. Start getting quality referrals today!