How to Respond to a Misguided Referral

As you go about your business development endeavors, you will occasionally receive referrals that are a poor fit for your practice. Perhaps the prospective client’s needs don’t align with your services. Perhaps their business (or budget) is too small. Perhaps they only agreed to meet as a favor to your mutual friend and have no intention of engaging you. Ever. 

The bad news is that the referral probably won’t manifest into a new client any time soon. The good news is that it came from a referral source who trusts you and keeps you top of mind. Certainly, as you navigate the whirlwind of your busy life, you must prioritize the people and activities that generate the most revenue. But make sure you don’t discourage a referral source just because their referral was ill-advised.

Take the high road. Spend a few minutes talking to the referral and offer whatever help you can without formalizing the relationship. While they don’t represent a meaningful short-term business opportunity themselves, your willingness to help them signals to your referral source that you appreciate the attempt to send you business. Consider sending your referral source a gift card or some other token of appreciation. Then, call your referral source and help them understand the kind of clients you are looking for. They’ve already demonstrated their inclination to refer. With a little feedback, you can guide their goodwill toward more productive outcomes. 

Authored by David Ackert


2 thoughts on “How to Respond to a Misguided Referral

  • Good advice David. I’ve found myself in this situation a few times & found that the time invested on both parties pays dividends. The referrer appreciates the effort, you have a chance to reconnect with then again & the prospect learns something.

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