Today I am going to outline a few ways you can ask for a referral without coming across as weak, needy, desperate or pushy. Asking for a referral can be uncomfortable for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. With these tips, you will be well on your way to snagging your next referral.

Are you uncomfortable? Many salespeople feel uncomfortable asking for referrals and for some of the following reasons:

 

  • They’re afraid they will be perceived as begging for more business.
  • They’re afraid the other person will be offended by their asking.
  • They assume that their contact won’t be able to refer them.
  • They’re afraid of appearing desperate.

However, if you ask for a referral in the appropriate manner, people will not think you are rude, weak or desperate.

How to ask. Once you have described your ideal client to a referral source, it is simply a matter of asking. Here are a few examples:

  • “Bill, as you know, I have helped your sales team achieve a 17-percent increase in sales in the last year through my programs. What non-competing companies do you know that might benefit from my services?
  • “Susan, do you know any sole proprietor business owners who might benefit from health/dental coverage?”
  • “Rick, who in your network might be able to use some PR services to grow their business?”

You can also start your request by saying something like this:

  • Eleanor, as you know, I rely on referrals to grow my business…” Then ask for the referral you’re seeking.

Here are few things to keep in mind when asking for referrals.

  • Start with people you know. It is much easier to ask for a referral from someone you know well, providing they know exactly what you do and the results you achieve.
  • Ask recent satisfied customers. Your most recent satisfied customers are a great referral source. After you have completed a contract or job with a customer, take a moment to remind them how you helped them and follow up by asking them for a referral. Most customers who are completely happy with your solutions will be more than willing to give you a referral.
  • Don’t rush it. Just because you have met someone at a networking event does not mean that you have earned the right to ask for a referral. You will get much better results by asking them to connect you with someone else after demonstrating the value you can offer. This includes referring them to someone else or helping them to solve a business problem.

It may sound simple, but too many people focus solely on getting referrals instead of giving them. Set the stage for others to help you by helping them first. As author and speaker Bob Burg puts it, “Go-givers get.”

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