How To Ask For and Get Customer Referrals

Updated on 27 May 2019

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A referral from a loyal client who recommends your products or services to others beats having to cold call prospective clients and should form an integral part of every business owner’s marketing plan.

The number one reason why people don’t get referrals is that they don’t ask for them, says Mark Keating, CEO and founder of SalesGuru, a sales training and development company.

“The number two reason is they are sabotaging their success by the way they ask. There are several things to consider and to follow that will increase the number of referrals you can receive.”

Keating’s advice for getting a referral

1. Ensure you have delivered a great experience before asking for a referral

This could just be a great sales experience for the buyer until this point.

2. Have a defined process for how you ask and what you say

 Examples of what you can say could include the following:

“Thanks for your support, not just of the company, but to me personally it means a lot. Can I ask how has you experience with my service been to date?”

“Can I ask for your assistance? The majority of people that I assist like you are introduced to me by my customers like you once they have experienced my service.”

“Would you be open to introducing me to three people in your network that [input the outcome that you achieve for your clients].'”

3. Get more relevant details and ask to be introduced

Ask if they would be open to emailing the below script to their referrals and copying you in the email. You will only contact the referrals once they have received the email.

Say something like “Thanks and it’s much appreciated. In my experience, these people appreciate being introduced by you prior to me calling them.”

Here is an example of an introduction email: John meet Mark – Mark meet John. John, I don’t generally introduce many people but Mark has been assisting me with [input what it is] and I know you are always looking for great ideas that work. I highly recommend having a cup of coffee together and allowing him to share a few ideas with you. You won’t be disappointed. Best Regards, X

4. Always be polite with referrals

And understand that not everyone is a fit for you.

5. Always give feedback

Provide feedback to the person who has referred you.

Keating on mistakes you are making asking for referrals

1. You ask too early in the relationship

I feel the best time to ask is on the conclusion of the sale or upon delivery. People will mostly refer you or not based on their experience with you.

2. It’s not part of your “sales process (or marketing plan)

And often it’s the very last thing (if ever) that salespeople bring up at the end of the meeting as they are leaving.

3. You are ignoring tone and voice

It’s either you are begging in a subservient tone “I was wondering if umm, you might possibly be able to umm give me some names…” or are perceived as arrogant, “I want you to give me 10 names of people that…”. Both of these options are doing you a disservice.

4. You’re not being specific

Be as specific as you can be about the type of person you are looking to get referred to.

5. You don’t get introduced

Only getting a name, number and not being introduced to them by the referral is not very helpful. There is little difference between this and a cold call.

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