Thanking Your Referral Sources

Since last week was Thanksgiving, I’ve been talking a lot being thankful and client gifts both on this blog and as the educator of my business referral group. One key category businesses forget to thank are their referral sources. Sometimes referral sources are clients or vendors that are on the “thank you lists”, but many times referral sources slip through the cracks because they are a past client, a competitor with a different focus, or sometimes someone you met at a networking event ages ago. Do not forget about these people.

Throughout the year, send thank you notes. I know it is easy to dismiss, but it works and it is a nice gesture. That is probably why your mother made you send thank you notes after birthdays, holidays, graduations and your wedding. A tip that I use regularly – leave your thank you cards out on your desk or somewhere visible. They will guilt you into writing them. I also regularly schedule my non-urgent or non-deadline work in my calendar as a meeting, such as writing this blog, so it gets done. If I can’t get it done at that time, I move the “meeting” to another time.

A tried and true way to say thanks in business development is taking someone to lunch. You probably like talking to your referral sources so treat them to a nice meal, let them pick it out. Another great benefit to spending more time with your referral sources is that you will probably get more business from them because you know them better and you stay top of mind.

One of the main reasons why referral sources get left out is a lack of tracking. You need to track all of your prospects and clients including where they came from. If you’re not tracking things yet, start to now. A good exercise is to write down your top 10 or 20 clients by financials and/or enjoyment working with them. Make a second column for how did you meet them – was it a business group, association, your website, or someone walking off the street? We did this exercise a five years ago and were amazed how many great clients came from finding us in the phone book. Although we do not recommend having a large phone book presence for most of our clients, we still keep a small ad in because it works for our area.

If you want to grow your business, thank those that have gotten you here.