It finally happened. Your hard work of building your referral network is about to pay off. You have received a referral. This is no time to sit back and relax. What you do now will have a huge impact on your success with your new prospect and your referral source.

When you receive a referral you must take two actions immediately. I mean now, not tomorrow or next week.
1. Thank your referral source immediately. Don’t assume that “they know you appreciate it.” At the very least send an email and state how soon you will contact the prospect. Try to find out as much as you can about the prospect and their relationship to the referral source. The more you know the better prepared you will be when you make your first contact.

2. Contact the prospect. Send an email within hours, not days or weeks. When you make the first contact mention the name of your referral source. Your email should include the best phone number to contact you. You should ask the prospect to give you the best phone number and time(s) to reach him/her. I don’t care how busy you are, reach out to the prospect as soon as possible. There is a good chance that the referral went out to multiple service providers. The sooner you reach out the greater chance that you are the first one to make contact. Speed is your friend.

If you don’t hear back from the prospect within two business days, resend the same email you have sent two days ago. Explain that you have sent an email a couple of days ago regarding a referral you have received and you wanted to make sure they have received your email.

In case you don’t receive any response after the second email circle back with your referral source and ask if s/he can email or call the prospect. The prospect might respond sooner to the referral source if they have an established relationship. The key here is not to let the referral go idle. The first few days after you have received a referral is the most crucial time. Quick action and consistent follow up is a must.

During the first interaction ask the prospect to tell you the relationship between him/her and the referral source. It will help you to start a conversation and it will help him/her feel more comfortable. Establish a timeline before you end your conversation. If your goal is to set up an appointment, do it while you are on the phone. If there is a second phone call required before going forward, schedule it before you hang up.

After you were able to make contact with the prospect, send a short email to update your referral source. Tell him/her what happened and thank him/her again. Explain why this is an excellent referral for your business.

If the referral doesn’t turn into business for your firm, you should thank your source just the same. Nobody can close 100% of referrals.  It is crucial that they know that you appreciate the referral. Thanking them will show that the referral is a real treasure for your business. Prove your source that you care.