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The top three reasons most referral partnerships fail

By Brenda Thomson

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have told me that referral partnerships don’t work… but when you start to ask questions about what they’ve tried, with whom, and how… three clear reasons for failure emerge.


A successful referral strategy, like any other strategic alliance or joint venture, needs to be a WIN-WIN-WIN.

  • A WIN for you.
  • A WIN for your referral partner and
  • A WIN for the client or potential client being referred.


Never assume that what is a WIN for you will be a WIN for the other person. Some people will be attracted by the offer of a referral fee – others will find it a turn-off. The only way to determine what is a WIN for the other person is to ask.



Remember your referral partner is running their business not yours. It’s not their job to:

  • Keep you top of mind – it’s YOUR job to make the effort to maintain the relationship.  Referral relationships are NOT set and forget.
  • Know who to refer to you – it’s YOUR job to make sure they know exactly who is a good referral for you and how they can easily recognise them.  If they don’t know who they’re looking for – the odds are they won’t see them.
  • Find ways to refer you – it’s YOUR job to provide suitable tools, resources and support to make it easy for them to refer you. Unless you make it easy – it’s not going to happen.
  • Follow up on the status of their referrals – it’s YOUR job to keep them informed about each and every referral, where it’s at, whether it was successful or not, If not why not. And remember to thank them for thinking of you.
Brenda Thomson

Brenda Thomson

CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group

Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business. 

Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.

Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference.  She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.


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