Monday, April 9, 2012

7 Ways to Ask For Referrals Over and Over (Without Being Obnoxious)

7 Ways to Ask For Referrals Over and Over (Without Being Obnoxious)

Receiving referrals from previous clients is a great way to build your business. It involves almost no costs, it often leads to an easier sale (because they trust the person who referred them), and it is a great testimony to the quality of service you provided your first customer. Because they are so valuable, many salespeople spend a lot of time worrying about how to get more. Most, however, spend little time actually engaged in activity to get more referrals because they think they can only ask for referrals once, or even worse, that they should just wait until the client offers to give referrals.

Below are 7 places you can ask for referrals throughout your relationship with the customer. Some of these are direct questions, some of these are ideas of how you can plant seeds to let the customer know that referrals are important. All of them can be used to increase the amount of referral business you do.

1. Mention referrals right away. When you first meet a potential customer, let them know that referrals are a big part of your business. It builds credibility in you and your company, and it plants the seed for asking later.

o "I've built a lot of my business on word-of-mouth referrals, which says a lot about the quality of our service, and it allows us to spend less time looking for new clients and more time taking care of our customers."

2. Drop a third person story. Third person stories are powerful sales tools, and they can reinforce that you get referrals from your clients.

o "Customer Jones, who was recommended to me by Customer Smith, really liked the new features that we put on the Widget 5000."

3. Ask for referrals when the customer signs on the dotted line. Their confidence is highest when they are actually committing to your offer. This is usually the only time the average sales rep asks for referrals, and it is an important step.

4. Ask again when the customer gets the product or receives the service. This is the second point at which the customer is really excited about their purchase, and it makes sense to ask for referrals when people are excited. It's also a great time to tell them that you will be following up in the next week/months to check in and make sure everything is going well.

5. Call the customer one week after they get the product. However, I suggest not asking for a referral here. Just check in with the client and see how everything is going. Sometimes, not asking for referrals is just as powerful. Especially when you are positioning yourself as the go-to person for the client (which you should be doing anyway).

o "I just wanted to call and make sure that everything is as good as you expected it to be.

6. Check in with them one month later. This should be another quick check in, to make sure everything is going well, and it's a great place to talk about what a good referral would be, or to ask for a specific referral-type that you think they could help you with.

o "I'm glad everything is going well. I wanted to ask a quick favor. I know that you are really enjoying the services we provide, and I was wondering who else in your industry you know that I should talk to about it."

7. Create an on-going contact program with your clients. This could be monthly, quarterly, every six months, or every year, depending on your industry and the amount of client contact you normally have. This is, of course, a great opportunity to ask if they have met any new contacts that could benefit from what you sell, or if someone in their sphere of influence has new needs.

As you can see, there are many chances to continue to ask for referrals from your clients. This also gives you a great opportunity to provide awesome customer service and also get repeat business. The more you can view your relationship with your customer as an on-going partnership, the more likely you are to receive customer referrals.

David J.P. Fisher is a business and sales coach and president of RockStar Consulting, a personal development company dedicated to helping people become RockStars in their professional and personal lives. He can be contacted at or at

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