December 5


Asking for Referrals

By Georgia Davis

December 5, 2019

How To Ask For A Referral

Guaranteed Referral Route No. 1

Has someone ever asked you for a referral? Did it go something like this:

“ the way, do you know anyone who could benefit from my services?”

 You start to ponder and think about it and eventually you say

 “Well, not off the top of my head, but I’ll keep thinking about it”.

This is how 90% of all referral questions are asked and unfortunately the question might as well not be asked. Rarely, if ever, will it get a positive response.

Why? Well, because it wasn’t asked correctly. “Know anyone who...” questions are too broad for people to think about.

People need a frame of reference to help them narrow down the playing field of potential referral candidates. Limiting the number of potential people that your associates might know might seem counter-intuitive, but it’s WAY more effective than opening up everybody that they know, but can’t remember.

Guaranteed Referral Route No. 2

You’ve just signed up a new B2B customer. You tell them:

“We’re going to be fantastic for you – you’re going to be so impressed. But I know that you can’t just take my word for that, I’ve got to prove it to you over these next few weeks. Here’s what I’m going to do… 

What’s your favourite restaurant?  

OK then, I’m going to reserve a table for us at lunchtime, three months from now. Pull out your diary, let’s set the date.

Now, I’ll book the table for four people. You see, I’m going to bring along someone to our lunch who I know will be great for your business and I’ll introduce you to him/her.

In exchange, and ONLY if we’ve done a brilliant job for you in the meantime, you come to our lunch with someone who’ll be great for my business that you can introduce me too. How does that sound?”

Systematic Referral Marketing For New Customers

A referral system is a methodical process that you have put in place to capture qualified prospects through your association with other people. A “system”, by its definition, is a “process that produces predictable results”. A system can be turned on and off like a light switch at will. Your business needs word-of-mouth advertising, but don’t confuse that with developing a methodical system for getting referrals. The two things are very different.

In order to get more referrals, you need to ask for more referrals and give more referrals.

In reality, most small business owners know that they have to ask for referrals to get more of them, but it’s the fear of asking that impedes them from moving forward.

The truth is that your customers WANT to give you referrals.

The Two Types of Referral Programmes

Basically, there are two sources for your referrals:

  1. Your Customers
  2. Other Influential People

You should have an active referral system for both types of people.

Your customers are perhaps your most enthusiastic referrers because they’ve experienced what you have to offer. But you may get as many referrals from other influential people who have never tried your product.

Customer Referral Programme 

Receiving referrals from customers starts with giving great customer service.

One of the simplest ways to harvest referrals from your customers is to write a simple letter asking them for their help. Asking for help is an important psychological trigger to use. As human beings we are hardwired to help others. Asking for help can be a very, very effective way of generating large numbers of referrals.

Centres of Influence Referral Programme

If you’re predominantly a local business - bricks and mortar or otherwise - there are other people that you ought to include in your referral prospecting system.

Your goal with these people is to be the first person on their mind when someone asks them about purchasing whatever it is that you do.

With this in mind, you might want to sit down with your staff and come up with ideas about how to be the first person standing in line in the minds of these centre of influence referrers.

Here are a few ideas to start you off:

  • Be their number one referrer
  • Make sure that you also have a referral mind-set. Before you get, you must give, which means in order to get lots of referrals from these people, you must be giving them referrals yourself.
  • Add them to your newsletter list
  • Give them helpful information that they can use to increase their sales
  • Find out what it is that they enjoy doing and take them to the football, cricket, tennis etc. Investing a little bit of time, effort and money to treat them like a star can pay back handsomely (I know a mortgage broker that does this with estate agents and he makes a fortune in referrals).

The Power of Cross-Promotion

Perhaps the single most powerful referral programme is when you use cross-promotion using endorsements from other well-respected people. It’s a dead simple idea.

A business you know or work with sends an endorsement letter about you and your product / service to their customers and you, in turn, do the same to your customers about them. It’s a win-win.

The reason endorsement letters like this are so powerful is because people will buy from people they know and respect. How many times have you asked a personal friend,

“Do you know a good place to buy XYZ?” 


“Do you know a good X that I can go and see about getting Y done?”

You trust their opinion so you feel comfortable buying from businesses recommended by them.

Here are some examples of complementary products or service businesses that could take advantage of this really powerful strategy:

  • A restaurant and a theatre

  • An accountant and financial planner

  • A toy shop and a restaurant with good kids’ facilities

  • A dry cleaner and a dress shop

  • A hardware shop and a tile business

  • A jewellery shop and a wedding business

Want to automate your referral system?

Give our team at EXELA a call to hear all about the Keap CRM software and how you can automate all of your marketing efforts.

Georgia Davis

About the author

You might also like

Direct Your Visitors to a Clear Action at the Bottom of the Page