Use This Word For Word Phrase When Asking For Referrals

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

asking for referrals

Referrals are like gold! They are much more powerful than all of the leads created through telesales, social or the web.

If you think about it, having a happy and satisfied customer vouch for your product and service and then introduce others through them to is so much more cost effective than the time and money it takes to generate a new lead by yourself.

It’s music to our ears here at MTD Sales Training when a new prospect calls or emails us and says that Sarah from XYZ recommended us to help them with their Sales Training. You’re starting way down the line of the sales process than if you started from scratch.

What are referrals?

As mentioned above a referral is when someone tells somebody else either individually, en-masse or through a review about the positive impacts and outcomes of what you do.

In an ideal world this is done automatically through “word of mouth” whether that be online or offline. With this you don’t have to do a great deal.

Well, I tell a lie with that because you obviously have to deliver a fantastic service or product to begin with but the process of generating the referral is left to the satisfied customer.

Then there are generated referrals that you ask for.

What do I mean about this? Let me give you an example. I once read of a dentist in Australia who build his entire business around asking for referrals.

Here’s how he did it. First he would wait for a compliment from a happy patient. He didn’t want to come over as pushy so he would never ask for a referral until this compliment was made. That was step 1 in his referral sales process.

Next he would get a referral card as he thanked the patient for the compliment and would place it in their hand and say something like this:

“You know, we do no advertising. It’s only through word of mouth that we get real nice patients like you. if you have a relative, friend or co-worker that you’d like to refer to this office, it would be real nice.”

I can literally feel the cogs turning in your mind about this.

How to get lots of referrals

Unlike the Dentist in the story above who kills it, many salespeople fall short is the gaining of referrals from their clients.

Many simply forget to ask; others think it’s an imposition that might put the client under too much pressure.

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that getting a referral from an existing client is the surest way of getting an introduction to a new potential prospect who may become a future customer.

But before you can get referrals, there is something you have to consider, and that is, how to become referable. Yes, you can’t ask for referrals if you haven’t built up the relationship with the business you are asking referrals from.

The simple fact is that most companies don’t refer you to their partners, suppliers, colleagues, customers or anyone who could benefit from your services.

Why?

Because, bluntly put, they don’t care about you or your business!

Why should they? They’re more interested in themselves and their future. Your business needs come a distant tenth on their list of priorities.

It’s not in their self-interest to refer you. So it’s important that you first of all become referable.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that you have to become the type of person and business that earns the right to be referred and to get referrals when you ask for them.

Here are four attributes you need to build in order to become referable:

You need to be trustworthy

No-one will refer you if you’re not trustworthy, as referrals are a transfer of trust. This takes time and will only succeed if you have built up reasons to be trusted.

Have you kept your promises explicitly? Have you gone the extra mile at every strategic point? Would your client believe everything you have said about your product and services?

If so, you stand a good chance of being trusted.

You need to be different

If the only difference between you and your competitors is price, then stand by to be beaten. There has to be solid differentiators between you and the competition.

When your client sees you, he or she has to see someone who stands out for a number of reasons from everyone else.

You need to be valuable to their business

The greatest value is built up by solving problems for them. The bigger the problems you solve, the more value you build up in their eyes.

As soon as you stop being a supplier or vendor and become a partner, you start to build value. And then, naturally, you become valuable to the referred prospects, as your value can be passed on to them as well.

You need to be liked

If they don’t like you, they’re not going to refer you. Period. Being liked is a pre-requisite in sales because likeability then builds believability, which builds confidence in you, which then equates to trust.

Think about it; do you automatically trust someone you don’t like? It’s doubtful. Essentially, these four components are all about you. If you can be trusted, are seen to be different, offer valuable and are likeable, it creates the foundation for an agreement to give referrals.

Of course, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get them from every client, but it sure builds up the chances of getting a positive response when you request a referral.

How to ask for referrals

How confident do you feel in asking for referrals?

If you’re like most salespeople we meet on our programmes, the answer will range from ‘not very’ to ‘about as confident as a snowman in summer’.

Here’s what NOT to say:

Don’t ask:

“Do you know anybody else who might be interested in this?”

Why not?

Because your clients won’t know ‘anybody’.

It’s too vague and generic.

Asking ‘do you know anybody who’ is asking them to think of everyone they know and then doing the hard work of narrowing those hundreds of people down to a select few who would be up for being sold to!

In other words, you’re asking the client to do the work of marketing your products for you!

Instead, you need to get your current clients to endorse you and promote you.

How?

Try something like this:

“Thanks for your time today, John. I recently wrote this guide on 7 ways to improve Health and Safety for small businesses. It’s a collection of the most common mistakes companies make when dealing with health and safety. I know you have a number of small businesses that you deal with. Do you think they would benefit from reading it?”

You’d probably get a ‘yes’ at this point.

“Good! Here’s what we can do…I think we could send them an email offering the guide. It should probably come from you, but I’d be happy to write a draft for you to edit if that’s easier. In the email, we can ask them to call my office to request a copy, so we’re not sending it to people who don’t want it. How does that sound?”

Do you see what this has done? It’s made your happy client a marketing genius for you and your company. But you have to do the hard work that makes asking for referrals easy.

By providing value for your current client, you’ll find it easier for them to think of colleagues, suppliers, customers and prospects that would find your information useful and valuable.

How can I can get referrals without asking?

I’ve mentioned earlier that the best referrals are those you don’t ask for. They come to you!

How, then, do you build that confidence so it becomes a natural way to gain more business from your current clients’ database?

Well, firstly you need to set yourself up right in order to be referred.

Here are some ideas:

Make Sure Your Current Clients Know About All The Products And Services You Offer And How You Help so they can either refer within their company or to others they know.

Too often sellers assume their clients know more about them than they do.

Add A Link To A Form On Your Website For Referral Submissions.

Inspire confidence.

It’s risky referring someone—what if it’s not successful?

You can inspire confidence in your referral sources by letting them know that 80% (or whatever) of your business comes from repeat customers.

Offer A Referral Commission.

Make sure your clients know this exists.

Provide Valuable Content Your Referral Sources Can Share With Their Network

An invitation to a breakfast or lunch seminar or webinar on an industry topic, research briefs, an article about a regulatory change or industry trend, etc. will make it something special for them to share with others.

Treat The Vendors And Suppliers With Which You Do Business As Partners. 

Make sure they’re aware of who and how you help.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile And Stay Engaged With Your Contacts Regularly

Create a list of buyers you want to work with.

Check out their LinkedIn profiles to see whether you’re connected in any way.

If so, reach out to them via your network—whether it’s an individual, a company, or a group.

Treat Your Clients As Partners, Too.

Let them know you view them as a strategic partner, and tell them you hope they’ll do the same with you.

What would be the results if you were to do some, most or all of the above?

It may bring you the chance of referrals from your existing clients.

But you still need to ask, and that’s where it can become a little tricky.

Try this format when next asking for referrals.

You’ll find it easier to get names than by simply asking if there’s anyone in their little black book to whom you can sell!

How to ask for referrals in an email

Probably not my favourite method because it’s not very emotional and is cold. Asking for a referral when your customer is satisfied needs to be done there and then in the moment.

Email delays this.

Having said that it can be effective if you know how to do it right.

Here are a couple of my favourite referral email templates.

Example 1: Asking for a referral email to a satisfied customer

Hi FIRST NAME,

I’m so glad to hear that you’re happy about the [insert the service or product here] that we provided for you.

[insert anything they said in-particular to personalised the email]

As you might have guessed we work hard on the relationships that we build with our customers and we receive a lot of business from word of mouth. It keeps our advertising costs down and ultimately the low prices that our customers pay as well!

Would you mind doing me a quick favour?

Are there one or two people you know of that could [insert problem you solve or benefit or services you offer]

If you do know of anyone would you mind sending me their information or better still introducing me in an email to them?

I’d really appreciate it and of course, they’ll also receive the first class service that you did.

Best regards,

Example 2: Asking for a referral email to a satisfied customer

Hi FIRST NAME,

I’m so glad to hear that you’re happy about the [insert the service or product here] that we provided for you.

[insert anything they said in-particular to personalised the email]

As you might have guessed we work hard on the relationships that we build with our customers and we receive a lot of business from word of mouth. It keeps our advertising costs down and ultimately the low prices that our customers pay as well!

I wonder if you could help me with something?

Are there one or two people you know of that could [insert problem you solve or benefit or services you offer]

If so, would you mind doing one of the following for me?

  1. Introduce me in an email to them
  2. Send them the attached one page brochure I have sent you
  3. Send me their contact details

I’d really appreciate it and of course, they’ll also receive the first class service that you did.

Best regards,


In Summary

Remember that getting referrals is two pronged attack.  First, and the most important element to all of this is that you need to knock the socks off your customers with what you do for them.

That means a killer product and service, fantastic support all through out the process, making it easy to do business with you and all at a cost that provides excellent value for money.

If you get this right, referrals will come to you.

If you do not achieve any of those then forget about asking for referrals.

In terms of asking for referrals you need to have a process in place. Don’t leave it to chance. You need to know when and how to ask for a referral and include it within your sales process.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 26 June, 2020



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