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Perception vs. Reality Is Killing Your Referrals

Aug 17, 2007
You've worked with a client for some time. You perceive they are happy with your work. And naturally, you're expecting them to refer business to you and send you new client referrals. Yet the reality is that this person may have certain reservations that he or she has never directly voiced to you (or perhaps subtly hinted about.)

This undertone of Perception vs. Reality is sabotaging your chance to get more referrals and referred business from them. Let me explain.

Positioning, or perception of you, is how the client imagines you versus other choices - namely, your competitors. The fact that their may be a limited supply of your competitors readily available to your client, means the client has limited choices. This can be good for you as short-term retention tool, but it can also sabotage your long-term consistent referral efforts.

For example, let's take a niche such as physicians. Doctors are a busy group. They run hectic practices and hire administrators to oversee their operations. Let's say you are a marketing consultant that helps a doctor increase his or her referred patients. Your expertise is referral marketing.

A doctor may know other professionals, true. But they probably don't know very many who are honed at practice management and referral generation. This reduces their supply of marketing consultant "relationships." While this is an advantage to you as the consultant (limited supply of competitors) it can seriously hurt your relationship. Why?

Human nature being what it is, means worry, concerns and angst will eventually creep in, silently reminding the physician, "You could be getting more referred patients, and there must be someone else you can work with who is good at referral strategies."

The problem is relational-disconnect begins to form. This hurts opportunities for word-of-mouth introductions.

For whatever reason during the time you have worked together, the doctor's perception has now become that you are not as talented as he or she once believed. They may start to imagine and perceive even more: That you are preoccupied. That you've become too busy. That you really aren't as responsive as you once were. And those perceptions - false as they may be to you - continue to grow and grow into accepted reality of the doctor.

The truth is that, we as people, in our distracted, hectic lives, won't always stop to "fact-check" ourselves and our misguided perceptions - to see if they are indeed real. Much like the Doctor, in my example.

To improve you referrals, word-of-mouth marketing and referred business, make sure people you are working with have opportunities to check their perceptions of you versus the reality of the situation. One of the easiest ways of encouraging this is via honest open communication that encourages complaints and objections.

Try saying, "Mr. Client, I've enjoyed our relationship. I'd like you to refer others to me. But before we discuss that, I'd like you to be perfectly candid with me: What have I been doing that has bothered you?"

The comments you hear will go a long way to helping you open genuine communication. They will also impact your chances to get more referrals.
About the Author
Daryl Logullo is the Founder of Strategic Impact!
and Marketing-Referrals-Tools.com. He concentrates
on referral building strategies for today's professional. Get a FREE Sample Client Referral Letter ($199 value), instantly delivered to you at
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