Do you know a vendor you trust so much that when you’re looking for a product or service that this vendor doesn’t even sell you still call him/her first? You do that because you trust them. You know they are trying to help you with no strings attached. In any industry, a trusted vendor’s experience and contacts throughout an industry is a valuable resource to their clients.
Which brings me to my philosophy regarding referral fees. To put it simply, I don’t accept them nor do I pay them. This has a successful policy for me for over 25 years. My feeling is that if I were to accept referral fees from another vendor to help them sell to my clients, it would look like I’m doing it for the extra money and not that I am trying to put the best resource in front of my clients – which is my goal. Even the best product or service isn’t always the best solution for every client.
Paying or receiving a sales commission is different than a referral. A referral is passing along contact information, making an email or face-to-face introduction and leaving it at that. The assumption is that I have screened this vendor for my clients and they are ethical, reliable, nice to work with, and have a product or service that might be a fit. I leave the rest of the sales process up to them.
Sales commissions should be accepted or paid when the entire sales process, or at least 90% of it, is completed before a connection is made. I do not sell any other products or services other than my own so I never have accepted a sales commission from another company. But I will pay a sales commission if someone calls me and says they’ve got a client ready for me – the deal is 90% done, and all I have to do is make one phone call and then be there when they want me to deliver my training.
My relationships with my clients is so important that I will do nothing to jeopardize that – and that includes making money off them for another vendor.