How to Ask for Referrals in Sales: 5 Expert Tips
You’ve built up a great client base, but now you’re ready to grow your business even more. What’s the next step? It’s time to ask for referrals! Referrals are the names of prospects that have been provided to you by another person—either a client, an acquaintance, or a prospect. Read on to learn five tips you need to learn how to ask for referrals in sales.
Existing customer referrals are one of the most efficient ways of prospecting. Referrals are worth the time it takes to get them. They’re a great way to leverage the trust and respect your current customers have for you already. Plus, you can use them to show other potential customers how you are easy to work with.
1. Decide Which Referrals to Go After
First, make a decision on what referrals you are going after. Will it be all in any market, or are you looking more toward a niche market? If you are working toward the latter, be particular on what referrals will serve you best.
This decision is probably based on where you are in your career. If you are just getting started and have not found a niche, then a shotgun approach with general referrals is best. However, if your passion is specific, be sure that your referrals support that niche market.
2. Give Reasons for Good Reviews (and Ask for Them!)
A great review is always helpful in your quest to gain referrals. Treat your customers in a way that will make them sing your praises. Give them reasons to tell everyone how your help made the difference! Providing continuous, superb customer service will result in great reviews.
Decide how you’re going to ask for reviews from happy customers. How you will share them? Will you provide surveys after you have provided a product or service? Will you show the results of that survey on your preferred social media platforms? A brief explanation of how you are the guru who makes a difference can go a long way in supporting the referral process.
Foster Good Customer Relationships
Trust is key. It’s simple: if a client trusts you, that client will be happy to provide a referral. Foster a good relationship with your clients. Determine what strategies you will plan to promote a lasting impression. Take a few minutes to remind yourself of ways to deliver good customer service.
3. Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn can be a great tool for asking for referrals. Similar to Facebook, you can join industry groups where you can provide insight and learn from others. Be an active member to stay current on your industry. Once you’ve established yourself as a professional and an expert, don’t hesitate to reach out to your network. Just be sure to ask permission before reaching out to their connections directly.
4. Join a Networking Group
Search for networking groups that can assist your quest for referrals, either virtually or locally. In addition to the traditional places for networking such as the Chamber of Commerce and Facebook Groups, there are professional groups dedicated to networking such as Le Tip and BNI.
You can also join a networking group on Meetup. There are many online events meetups already established: Online Business Referral Networking, Connections that Turn Into Clients & Connections, Learn About Referral Based Marketing, and more. If you don’t see the type of group you’re looking for, start one!
5. Create a referral request plan
Now it’s time to create a plan to have a well-thought-out process of how to ask your clients for the referral. Follow these simple steps to map out your plan.
Keep your process simple
Don’t make it difficult or complicated on the person you are requesting a qualified lead from. Also, make sure you aren’t being too pushy.
Know when to ask
Know the right time to ask for referrals. Avoid asking for a referral before even knowing if the customer is even satisfied or not.
Decide the best method
How will you ask? In an email, in person, or over the phone? Your professional relationship with each client will vary, so customize your request to optimize the desired outcome. If you decide to use email, however, it’s perfectly fine to create a basic email template. Just be sure to add personalized information where needed. Also, spend some time coming up with a catchy subject line.
Choose your words carefully
Be specific with your request. For example, if you just sold unique branded pens to promote a school’s upcoming event don’t ask, “Do you know of anyone else at your school that might need promotional items?” A more mindful request is, “What other events are hosted in your district where I could be of assistance in providing ways to promote the date?”
Don’t be afraid of rejection
Don’t avoid referral requests because you’re fearful of rejection. If you know you provided great service and that referral could be helpful, then be confident and ask! Most people like helping others because it feels good. The worst that can happen is they say no. Just move on! Rejection is part of the cold calling process.
Remember to say thank you
Always be thankful for the referral. Thank the person who provided the referral even if it did not lead to a new client. If a referral led to a new opportunity, share that information with the person who provided the referral.
Don’t give up
Get creative if a client feels hesitant to provide a referral. They might feel uncomfortable with the referral, but are happy with your service, so ask them to write a review or testimonial that you can share on your website or social media platforms.
Bonus: Give Referrals to Get Them
Remember the Golden Rule? Treat others the way you want to be treated. Help provide referred customers whenever possible. Consider what you are asking of your customers and provide public positive feedback assisting them in their efforts.
Search for ways on Google reviews, social media platforms, LinkedIn endorsements—anywhere you find to provide supportive remarks for them. This technique will lead to reciprocation.
If you want to learn more about how to ask for referrals in sales and other techniques to grow your business, check out the resources on Kaeser Central and Kaeser University.