Jul 28, 2015

Referencing projects outside your main expertise

Why can’t we all just get along?

Author: Silviu Panait

I’ve become increasingly aware of how reluctant most outsourcing providers are to share leads with others in the field – to the point of attempting to deliver projects outside their comfort zone, just so they don’t reference the client to ‘the competition’. I find this makes no sense for anyone: the client gets less-than-perfect service, because the provider is either not experienced in that particular field or lacks the resources to deliver on time at that scale; the outsourcer ends-up with a less-than-happy customer, instead of gaining their trust by learning to say ‘This is not exactly our niche, but I know someone who can help!’.

Why do we do this?

Think of it this way: you go to the Orthopedist complaining of leg pain. The doctor examines your situation, and concludes that your problem is not actually in your leg, but in your spine, and this causes you pain in your leg. However, instead of referring you to an adequate specialist to receive optimal care for you back, the Orthopedist decides they’ll just do it themselves. After all, they did go through med school, right? So what if it’s not exactly their precise area of expertise? With a bit of side reading, they should be able to help you themselves. They wouldn’t want to lose a client, and certainly wouldn’t want the client to think they’re not a good doctor.

This makes no sense, does it? So why would technology outsourcing be any different? Why would ‘hoarding clients’ just for the sake of it make more sense in our field, than it does in the medical field or any other?

It’s hard to let go

Learning to let go of the projects outside your comfort zone means providing adequate care to those who approach you. It feels like you’re ‘losing a client’, but in fact, you’re building trust with a business professional – while gaining some financial benefits on the side without really doing anything other than referring the lead to someone you can trust and is specialized in addressing that particular pain-point. In the long-run, it’s better for everyone involved. Especially for your lead, which ultimately translates to someone who will have really good things to say about your company, should the name come up. Things like ‘I trust their judgment, they will either help you themselves, or refer you to someone trustworthy, should you be outside their field of expertise. Be sure to give them a call’. And that is much better than someone saying things like ‘Yeah, I’ve worked with them. They were always crossing deadlines, and overall service was average’.

Learn to let go, and they just might come back

So if I visit an Orthopedist for my leg pain, and they refer me to another specialist who helps with my problem, and I’m happy, I will recommend that Orthopedist to others. After all, they did diagnose my problem correctly and helped fix it by recommending someone qualified to help me. Should I dislocate my ankle playing tennis a year later, I will go back to that Orthopedist for help. Because I trust them.

I will go back for advice on my next outsourcing project to the person who has helped me by recommending someone specialized in solving my problem, because I trust they’ll make the best decision for my business. And who knows, maybe my next project will be precisely in their area of expertise.

In any case, a happy client will maybe recommend you to a few people, should your company name come up. They might give you a testimonial or reference, should you request them. However, as we all know, a displeased client will tell every business professional they encounter about how unhappy and disappointed they’ve been with their outsourcing collaboration. We shouldn’t be so easily inclined to risk our good names by going too far outside our comfort zone.

What do you think about referencing leads? Is it a common practice in your company, or more of a last resort? Let me hear your thoughts on this, and stay in touch with us for more outsourcing-related debates.

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