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Getting across the bridge: Asking for referrals

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For many salespeople, the most difficult part of the referral process is going from the actual sale to asking for referrals without coming across as nervous, abrupt, anxious or even desperate. Enter the “referral bridge.” The bridge phrase I suggest for getting across is:

“Anne, I’m in the process of expanding my referral business, and I find it’s helpful to partner with my clients and friends, such as you. Could we take a few quick minutes to run past the names of some people I might also be able to help?”

Every aspect of this bridge phrase has a specific purpose.

1. States your intent. It lets your referrals source know exactly what you’re looking to accomplish and does so with polite posture.

2. Gives them “buy in.” It includes this person in your mission by making them your “partner.” And people who know, like and trust you and desire to help you want to feel some ownership in your success.

3. Assures them it won’t take up too much time. By saying a “few quick minutes” to “run past,” you let your referral source know you won’t take a lot of their time.

4. Provides security that they have nothing to fear. By saying “might” you’ve used a word that relaxes them because it shows you don’t assume everyone is interested. Thus, they won’t have to worry you’ll come across to someone they refer you to as high-pressure.

Of course, depending upon your product, service and personal style, you want to use some different words than above. But use the basic principle, and you’ll realize great success in terms of obtaining their agreement to provide referrals.

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More tips:

Bob Burg speaks at sales and company conventions on the topic at the heart of his books, “The Go-Giver” and “Endless Referrals.” For more information and to download chapter one of his books, visit


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