How to Ask for Referrals to Build Your Sales Network

Our customers are our marketers. Reviews on everything from diaper cream and yachts to plumbers and SaaS apps are available with the click of a button. Facebook ad-targeting – built on the premise of social sales – claims 5x ROI on advertising dollars. Personal referrals are more powerful than ever in growing your business.

That power is multiplied tenfold in the world of professional services. That’s why successful realtors, lawyers, accountants, etc. usually have a singular marketing plan – let the work speak for itself. That “speaking” happens in the form of customer referrals.

How Do You Ask For Referrals?

You start by asking for them. That’s a process that is often uncomfortable and can get pretty awkward very quickly.

Here are a few tips on doing it well.

Make the Ask

You’ll never get the referrals if you don’t ask for them. By all means, keep it subtle. But don’t bury the request altogether. Consider scheduling regular feedback check-ins with people who use your service, where you can ask for referrals when you hear favorable remarks.

Bring it up if they shoot you a complimentary email or mention you in a social media shout-out for your work.

The key here is to be timely. People are most evangelical about a product at the beginning before it’s become an everyday part of their lives. Bring up your ask when you’re fresh in their minds.

Focus Your Ask

Tell people what you’d like them to say to their friends. If your client runs an industry conference for dentists, suggest a good pitch for that audience.

Create a seasonal or event-themed pitch around your product, which inspires customers to pass on a particular type of message to their friends.

If you interact with clients on Twitter, always throw in a “Please Retweet” when you want them to do so.

The goal is to:

  1. Leverage your clients’ networks where they are most valuable
  2. Make it super easy for them to pass on the message.

Create a Process Around your Ask

Make the ask a standard part of your workflow to ensure that it happens. You can bake the ask into your sales cycle or your onboarding plan.

LinkedIn, for example, has built-in leveraging your email contacts by having you accept their “You May Know” feed when you sign up for the service.

The result is an auto-generating referral service of sorts.

Reward For Any Response to an Ask

Find a way to say thank you, even if the referral isn’t yet a converted customer.

You can send some company swag or a bottle of wine when onboarding a new customer that came to you through a referral. If a customer engages with you or compliments your service on social media, you can use responses and retweets of their material as a thank you.

When someone agrees to a case study or a testimonial in your marketing materials, you can offer a free photoshoot to go along with it.

Be creative and gracious.

Be Genuine

Customers aren’t professional ad-men, after all. Their referral is based on their experience with you. That’s why it pays to be authentic.

Try involving your customers in your story, your company’s values, and your people.

Reach out to understand why they’re excited about your product, and have your product messaging reflect their value system along with your own.

That’s what will make it not just easy, but downright natural for them to tell others about your service.

Read More: 7 Research-Backed Ways to Boost Sales Productivity

What You Should Do Now

If you need help with sales support, here are a few options to help you:

  1. Download our eBookSpend More Time Selling with a Virtual Assistant” and get a better understanding of how a virtual assistant can handle tedious sales tasks to give sales leaders and teams more time to sell and take care of customers.
  2. Book a free consultation call with Quickskill. We can help you regain more of your time to sell by offloading repeatable tasks to a fully managed virtual assistant. One of our experts will help you create a plan to delegate your tasks and we will even train your sales assistant for you.
  3. If you know someone else who’d benefit from sales support, share this post with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.