The Key to Great Referrals

To understand how to get more referrals, you have to understand human behaviour

Wouldn’t it be fantastic not to have to find new business and it walk straight through the door to you!

Referrals and word of mouth sure beat having to chase every opportunity on your own. Unfortunately, they don’t just happen­ — you have to make them happen.

A few weeks ago I was referred to a business and they are now my clients. It had taken time to build up the trust for him to feel safe and comfortable enough to refer me.

Before someone refers you they will be asking themselves:

Do I want to be responsible if my friend has a bad experience?

Will I get credit if it works, blame if it doesn’t?”

How does it make me look? Do people like me recommend something like this?

Does it look like I’m getting some sort of kickback or special treatment in exchange? How will that appear to my client?

(But you will of course always get some people who will ask, “What’s in it for me?”)

Being good at what you do is only just the beginning!

Simply put, the two main reasons why people don’t give referrals are:

  1. Their reputation is on the line
  2. They don’t know how you’re going to handle the referral.

To understand how to get more referrals, you have to understand human behaviour:

People give professional-service referrals for intrinsic reasons, not usually monetary gain.

Three Steps for Getting More and Better-Quality Referrals

1: You have to ASK!

Most clients won’t decide to send work your way on their own and you’re not going to lose clients by asking for referrals.

2: Ask the right way

Ask for referrals when you’re praised. This is an underused opportunity!

Ask in person or over the call

Try to avoid email.

Ask with confidence! You’re not begging for business, you’re looking for people who need help in your area of expertise

Position the request the right way:

“Most of my business comes from referrals…” “A great part of my business comes from referrals…” “My business depends on referrals…”

Suggest specific categories, industries or situations where you can provide value.

Find creative opportunities to add value before asking for the referral.

3: Create a referral expectation from the start

Set up an expectation: “I want to add value to you and your business. I hope I gain enough of your trust that you refer me to others.”

One way to communicate this:

“Most of my business comes via referrals. That’s because I deliver excellent work every time, on time, etc. Many of my clients refer me to others. I want you to know that once we’ve worked together for a while and if you are a raving fan, I’ll ask you for a referral”

Referrals come in different forms. If someone merely provides you a name and email address, that’s a low-grade referral. But if a customer actively talks up your product or service, sets up a meeting or brings the prospect in the door, that’s an A grade referral. And as we all know they are the best!

You have to learn to ask for referrals, and make sure employees are on board as well. Most customers are open to being asked for referrals. Some even appreciate the opportunity to tell friends, family and associates about something good they’ve discovered. Make it easy for them to refer you, even a simple help like give them some of your business cards or a link to your website.


But remember this, the worst time to ask for a referral is when you ask them to pay or present a bill. Look for opportunities earlier or later in the process when customers are more receptive.

Share to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *