How to ask for a referral

In addition to the previous post, I want to address a question that I get very often: how to ask for a referral?

In fact it is very simple: just ask for it. Many people make up in their minds various reasons why they should NOT ask for a referral instead of the opposite. The reason is the fear of rejection.

But if you provide good products and/or services that can help people improve their business or life in any other way, why should you fear to be rejected?

However to ask a stranger for a referral is mostly not the most effective way. Why? Because he doesn’t know you yet. So if you have never asked for a referral the best place to start is with (satisfied) customers.

I recommend asking these questions to your current customers:

  • Are you satisfied with our product/service?
  • If they say no, you have the opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer (who is on his way of leaving you for another supplier) into a satisfied one.
  • If they say yes, ask:
  • Would you recommend me/us to others?
  • If they say no or hesitate, this is the same no as above.
  • if they say yes, you can ask them for a name and contact data. Or even better: to bring you in touch with this third party via telephone or e-mail (an example of such an e-mail can be found in my book “Let’s Connect!”)

Many people don’t ask this question, because they assume that satisfied customers will automatically talk about them (word-of-mouth). This happens, but only in a very limited way. Think of your own situation: if you visited a superb restaurant yesterday, do you send an e-mail to all your contacts today? No. But if someone asks you today if you know a good restaurant, you would recommend the one you visited yesterday. The same applies to your products/services.

So, just ask. If your customers are satisfied they will gladly refer you to other people. They will even tell you: “Why didn’t you ask this question before?”

Try it. You will be amazed with the results !



2 Responses to How to ask for a referral

  1. Bruce says:

    I used the following in a letter I sent to some clients. I was wondering if I should have a second sentance on asking them to contact me or something to that effect.

    “Business is great but I could always have more business. Who do you know that could benefit from the use of ‘my product’ for their personal vehicles or business fleets?”


  2. Bruce,

    I don’t know the rest of your letter so I can’t really comment on what you wrote.

    Two things to keep in mind:
    1) also focus on them somewhere in your letter and how you can help them (like adding: “Of course I would gladly return the favor” or something like that)
    2) I prefer to use this in a face-to-face conversation or via the telephone because there is more chance on a reaction from their side (and you can immediately sense how they feel about it)

    Have a great networking day !


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