A referral or sales lead is like a particularly valuable gift in the business world, and should be “thanked for” accordingly. Initially, it’s the perfect opportunity to send a handwritten thank you note, as we discussed the just the other day. When you make an appointment to meet the lead, or make contact in whatever way the situation calls for, pick up a thank you card and write a quick note letting the person who gave you the referral know that you appreciate it, and you’ve followed up.
In some cases, this may be sufficient. However, if it turns out to be a particularly good lead, it’s a good idea to periodically update your referrer on how the new business relationship is developing. If the lead turns into a job offer, or a lucrative sale, or a valuable contract, by all means send another card (maybe a bit fancier this time!), and perhaps a small gift. If you’re on friendly terms, a lunch invitation might be appropriate. A gift certificate or appropriate gift basket are both good choices for more businesslike relationships.
And what do you do if the referral isn’t working out? If you’re having trouble contacting the lead, you might send a quick note to the referrer, and ask if they might pass along your card, if the lead is someone they have regular contact with. If you do contact the lead, and nothing comes of it, a quick note to say “just wanted to let you know that I wasn’t able to be of assistance to Mr. Lead, but thanks again for keeping me in mind” is the perfect way to keep your contact updated, and let them know that you still appreciate their efforts. Follow up notes like that are and excellent way to encourage the contact to keep you in mind for future opportunities. No need to dwell on the deal that didn’t work out, because the next one might!
Need thank you notes?