When and How to Ask for Customer Referrals

June 1, 2015
By: Voldico

Learn when and how to ask for customer referrals during your business process and see tangible results!

Referrals from satisfied customers are a powerful selling tool. Most people prefer to do business with people they know or businesses referred to them (than with strangers). Positive endorsements establish that initial level of trust that can be difficult to obtain with potential clients. 

There are basically three types of referrals:

  1. Traditional referrals also known as “word of mouth” referrals 
  2. Testimonials (to be used in literature and on your website)
  3. Online recommendations and reviews (through sites like Yelp and Google+)

The first step in getting great customer referrals is very straightforward: make your customers happy. The foundation for creating a business based on customer referrals is delivering consistently great service to all your customers. 

When to Ask for a Customer Referral

Never feel anxious or nervous about asking for referrals. Most customers, especially happy ones, are genuinely glad to help when asked. Customers will not provide referrals unless you deserve them. 

Before you begin requesting referrals, start by asking yourself some questions: 

  • Are my interactions with customers positive?
  • Am I listening to and understanding their needs?
  • Am I providing competent guidance?
  • Do my products and services meet their needs?

Once you feel confident in your products and services, consider these tips for knowing when to ask for a referral: 

  • Encouraging referrals should begin with your first contact and continue throughout the entire selling and serving process. Make referrals a part of your initial agreement and follow-up.
  • When a customer thanks or praises you, respond with a referral or testimonial request.
  • Use every client meeting as an opportunity to ask for a referral.
  • Leverage networking events as an opportunity to obtain more referrals.

How to Ask for a Customer Referral

How you ask for a referral depends on the type of referral you are trying to obtain. 

  • Traditional referrals and requests for testimonials should be asked face-to-face.
  • Use your website, email newsletters, social media and email signatures to generate online business reviews.
  • Treat the referral with the value it deserves. The worst thing you can do is let a referral slip through the cracks. You may lose the opportunity, but worse, the respect of your customer or prospect that put their trust in you. 

There is no one approach to referrals that works with every person, every time. The more tools you have in your referral kit, the more likely you will have the right one for the specific job. 

Lastly, make sure to always thank clients who provide referrals. Show your appreciation and additional referrals may follow. Providing a referral is a very personal gesture and it deserves a very personal acknowledgement, so send a handwritten note rather than an email.