Referral Prospecting


referral_3Referrals are the best way to increase your sales.  When you begin to build your business through referrals you will lessen your dependence on having to make cold calls and other less productive (and frustrating) prospecting activities.  Yet getting qualified referrals is not automatic, by any stretch of the imagination.

The most important concept to understand about referrals is that you must provide outstanding service, superior products and be professional in every way in order for anyone to consider providing you with referrals.

Why Don’t Salespeople Get Referrals?

  • They don’t know how to ask for referrals
  • They don’t tell the referring source what they’re looking for

When to Ask 

  • Set the stage early in the relationship.  (“At some point when you’re totally satisfied with us as a supplier, I’d like to ask you for referrals.  How do you feel about that?”)
  • After you’ve just completed delivery of your solution and your customer is satisfied.  (“Who do you know…?”)

Dos and Don’ts

  • Ask them about their willingness to give you referrals.  Don’t assume they will.
  • Don’t ask to be recommended – it puts too much pressure on the prospect and is presumptive.
  • Focus your question on the end result to the client – a benefit or problem you can solve.

How to Ask for a Referral 

  • “How do you feel about referring to me?”
  • “How do you feel about helping people you know with similar problems?”

Your Ideal Client Profile

Salespeople will experience more success if they can be specific when asking people for referrals. Take a moment to develop your ideal client profile.

  • Description: (ex. an owner of a small to medium sized business who has a sales force; VP of Sales larger company)
  • Typical Pains:  (ex. who is frustrated with excessive turnover, not making his/her sales goals, etc.)
  • Mindset:  (ex. open minded about training; deadly serious about growing the business.)

“Upgrade” Your Referrals 

  • Probe for pain:  “What problems do they have that you think I could help them with?”
  • Solicit their help:  “Would you feel comfortable calling him to see if he wants to speak with me?”
  • Try for an introduction:  “What would you think about the three of us having lunch one day.  I’ll buy.”

Finally, Give More to Get More 

  • Try to provide them with referrals in return.  Make a point of asking your clients whom they would like to be introduced to and see if you can help them.
  • You can make them look good if product/service benefits referral.
  • You might provide a reward such as lunch or small token of appreciation.

Key Points

  • If you don’t ask for referrals, you usually don’t get them.
  • The more referrals you give, the more you will receive.
  • Don’t let them guess about whom you’d like to do business with.
  • The only way you’ll get referred is if you are exceeding their expectations.