Ask for the Referral

19 Sep


Over half of buyers consult third party sources before reaching out to a company (

Almost 3 out of 4 executives prefer to work with companies referred by someone they know (

Your next customers are likely going to be referred to you. Are you doing enough to seek them out?

Let’s pretend you sell software. Here’s what you should NOT say:

GeorgeI really appreciate your business over the last few years. I’m wondering if you know of any other organizations that might benefit from our software?

“Any other organizations” is really broad. Most people can’t think of a good referral off the top of their head and five minutes later, they aren’t thinking about you or your request. Instead, be very specific when phrasing your question. When you paint a vivid picture of WHO makes a good customer, then they can more easily narrow it down in their mind.

George, we are looking to expand our business next year and our ideal customer is a college or university like yours. Would you be willing to introduce me to another school’s IT Director that might benefit from our software?

Being specific is likelier to increase your referrals. I’d suggest asking for an introduction either over the phone or face to face. I don’t like the idea of requesting this via email as you are asking for a big favor – and you don’t want it to sound impersonal.

How can they facilitate the referral? 

Unlike the last step in making a phone call, I like using email in these introductions. If your customer can draft a 2-3 sentence email introducing you, it’s easy and they are completely off the hook; the rest of the conversation doesn’t require their inclusion. Offer to write a draft email for them that they can simply cut and paste. I get referrals – but I often must remind them two or three times before it actually happens.

If the referrer wants to be more involved, great – but an email is a relatively simple step for them and it puts the onus on you to carry it forward.

How do I thank my referring client?

When you land the business, absolutely send a hand written thank you note. If you know the customer well, then maybe you can customize a gift or send a gift card.  One method that isn’t going to offend the person regardless of their internal policies is buying a donation gift card from TisBest ( to send your customer that can be used at one of 300+ charities of their choosing.

When is the last time you referred someone to your client?

I’m guessing if you have introduced a prospect to your client, it’s going to be easy to ask them to return the favor. We need to build symbiotic partnerships with our customers.

You don’t get referrals unless you deserve them! So be selective about who you are asking.  Requesting a referral is a small effort that can lead to big results.

Forward, never straight~ Drew




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