I’ve recently had a call from a good client of mine, asking if I was able to run a new training programme for them.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, ordinarily yes, but in this instance I wasn’t sure.

Like most people I love being asked to do more work for my clients, but the problem was that what they were asking for wasn’t really my main area of expertise.

It was something that I touch on in other courses that I run, but isn’t really something I major in.

So here was the dilemma

Do I say “yes thank you, of course I can do that” and then work out how to provide what they needed? This would get me some more work and stop my client talking to a potential competitor for the service. Of course, I would have to learn more about the subject area myself first, but I could do that….

But, there was a very large but. I knew that there was the possibility that although good, the resulting training would not be my best stuff, and there was the potential to destroy a good relationship by providing less than my best. Something I never want to do. Also, I knew that there were experts available in that subject area who would do exactly what my client needed.

What to do?

I spent a few days doing what many of us do. We see the pound or dollar signs, and think “how can do this for them”, when what we really should do is thank them, explain that we really not the best person for the job, and refer them to someone we trust who is.

We all have a niche, an area of expertise that we work within and by which we are known. When we dilute this by taking on work that really isn’t our thing, or broaden our offering too far, what we are in fact doing is making ourselves less attractive to the market in general.

We need to be great at what we do, and focus on that and that alone.

It is far too easy to take on work that we should really refer. Yes, we are potentially giving away a fee, but in actual fact what we are doing is adding value for our client, improving our trust relationship and helping out someone who will then feel like they owe us a favour.

Isn’t that a much better long term result?

Views: 196

Comment by Anna Brekka on May 21, 2014 at 9:19pm

Very good advice. 

Comment by Keith Halperin on May 22, 2014 at 7:59pm

Thanks, James. A variation of your solution would be to refer an expert in what the client needs (for a healthy but not excessive percentage from the referred expert).



Comment by james nathan on May 23, 2014 at 6:45am

I think that to take a percentage changes the relationship between you and the expert from one of trust and co-operation to one of master and servant. Yes it is a workable solution, but I much prefer working to build relationships by giving. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on May 25, 2014 at 12:18pm

I hear you, James. I've been giving business referrals for free for decades. If it's for a friend, that's one thing, but I realize that who and what I know is VALUABLE, and "love don't pay the rent". Employees get "employee referral fees", why shouldn't we get "business referral fees," too?



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