When should I ask for referrals? A common question from salespeople that reflects the discomfort many of us feel when we ask for referrals. We don’t want to appear pushy or “salesy” or arrogant, so we push asking for referrals further and further out in our sales process.

Many think we should wait until we sign a deal, others when the client implements and yet others when the client sees an ROI on their solution. We wait and we wait, and often the relationship with the initial buyer is so far removed, that we never ask. Referrals do not just happen, you have to ask.

What’s the lesson here? That we should never lose touch with our buyers or the other individuals we work with during the sales-and-implementation process. But you need to earn the right to ask for referrals. You have done that when you receive a referral to a prospective client; during the sales process, when you have added value and your client has thanked you; and during the implementation process.

So, it’s never too soon to ask for referrals, to follow up or to get an introduction. Remember: When your referral source introduces you, he actually helps the individual he is referring to you. They introduce you, a credible resource, saving that person a ton of time and contributing to his success.

And remember to say thank you. It’s never too soon to say thank you. Thank your referral source for introducing you–with a phone call, an email and, most important, with a personal, handwritten note. (You can’t say thank you enough.)

Your referral source wants to know that he has made a good introduction, and you need to confirm that by showing your appreciation. Now he knows what a good referral looks like, and he will continue to think of great sales prospects to send your way.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. (C) Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.