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How not to use a referral

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The other day I received an email with the subject line “[Name of referrer] gave me your name as a referral for web and graphic design.” The referrer’s name was someone I knew and respected, so I opened the email, even though I had absolutely no interest in talking to anyone about my website.

Unfortunately, that was the only reference to the referrer in the whole email. The email focused entirely on “who we are,” “what we do,” “who we work with,” etc. At no point did the sender explain how he helped my colleague or demonstrate why I should call him. In short, he missed a big opportunity to leverage his referral.

Here are three things he could have done differently to more effectively capitalize on his referral:

  1. Open with a testimonial. Testimonials are powerful, especially if they come from someone we know. The sender of the email could have asked the referrer to describe how he benefited from his services and included that description in his email. This would have captured my attention and increased his credibility.
  2. Ask for an introduction. It would have been very effective if the sender had asked the referrer for a direct introduction rather than opting to send me a standard prospecting email.
  3. Focus on results. Rather than using a generic approach, the sender could have outlined the work and results he achieved for the referrer. That, combined with a testimonial, would have been vastly more effective.

A referral is a precious thing; don’t carelessly toss it away. Follow these steps to capitalize on your next referral.

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