Referrals are one of the most effective ways sellers generate leads and new customers. However, many struggle with generating them consistently.

We know customers generally depend on colleagues, associates, and peers to recommend a product or service. So when a prospect is introduced to your business by word of mouth marketing, most of the work is already done.

These types of customers build a seller’s trustworthiness and credibility which are two main pillars of effective selling.

While most sellers will agree that customer referrals are very effective, they do not clearly understand how to tap into their database and/or networks to proactively generate them.

The reasons for this are both varied and numerous.

Many sales agents are uncomfortable asking for referrals.  Some either do not want to appear desperate or appear to be like the “typical” salesperson trying to sell something you do not really need. 

Another factor is that of insecurity.  Some sales agents are not certain if they can deliver value to their clients, benefit their clients, and provide them an amazing customer experience.

Practical Steps To Get Referrals

However, there are some practical steps that, once followed, can have a positive impact on the business and, by extension, the bottom line:

Be referable

This means, in order to make referral marketing a proactive part of your lead generation strategies, the seller must be referable. 

Therefore, he or she (or you) must ensure that they deliver what they promised and when they promised it. 

When your clients speak to people about the service provided they must be able to do so with unwavering conviction.

Accidental referrals should not be the main option

It is vital to be clear on who is your target audience and what must be done to attract them. 

Therefore, identify how your network can help you get referrals to these prospective clients.

Do not wait for the pool to dry up

Establish a sales referral program that will facilitate the continuous flow of high-quality referrals on a consistent basis. 

If this is not done, one can be caught off guard with limited business flowing if the proverbial pipeline runs dry.


15 Strategies That Can Help You Get More Sales Referrals

1. Establish a referral program inclusive of complementary providers to swap referrals.

It is important to ensure that only providers you are comfortable recommending are included in this database. 

People or companies you will not hesitate to recommend to your family and close friends. This is important as you build your brand.

2. Ensure your customer base is fully aware of all the products and services you offer.

Everyone must know your name and what it represents. That way they can either refer within their company or to other people they know. 

Too often it is assumed that clients know more about the company than they really do. 

For instance, if you are in the shipping business and a client uses only the international service, for example, make sure they know about your domestic service and international consolidation capabilities.

3. Acknowledge and appreciate your referral sources. 

This strategy can take many simple forms like a phone call, an email with an appropriate email signature, or even better, a handwritten note or gift card. 

The important thing is to express your gratitude. This will help to increase your referral prospects.  

4. If client referrals are not being done by customers, design another easy way for them to recommend you (e.g., reviews,  case studies, testimonials).

Some old-school sales managers in large organizations may prohibit written testimonials and discouraged referrals. However, sales agents can provide recommendations by phone for vendors with whom they worked.  

The results have been seen by some vendors who took advantage of this opportunity and great deals were closed. 

5. Be amazing; show the customer why your company is special. 

Tap into human nature and leave them “wowed” from the services they’ve experienced.

6. Referral link – insert a link to a form on your website for submission of referrals.

This link can include an email address, social media contact, and any other way to reach out to the company.

7. Incentivize referral submission.

This is a good marketing tactic. Many people will be moved to participate in such a program when they have a vested interest.

8. Foster confidence. 

There is a measure of risk when referring someone. There is the uncertainty factor, “are they as good as others say”?  

To inspire confidence in your referral sources, let them know that the majority of your business comes from returning customers. 

This hints to a good customer loyalty program and that the customer support process is producing satisfactory results. 

9. Your vendors and suppliers must always be seen as your business partner. 

Vendors and suppliers must know your brand and understand how and who you are able to assist in various ways.

10. Provide valuable content to your referral sources for onward distribution to their network.

Content can be provided either via seminars or webinars on an industry’s trending topics. You can also do this through research briefs, or an article about a current and emerging regulatory change, or the global positioning of an industry, and the like. 

Whatever is provided should be appealing to clients and others which, in turn, will motivate them to share.

11. Establish a database of buyers you will like to work with. 

This list should include all contact information such as emails, telephone numbers, and any online social media presence. 

For example, review their LinkedIn profiles to determine whether or not you are connected to each other in any way. 

Despite the fact that the buyer might be an individual company, reach out to them via your network.

12. Keep your online media profile (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) updated.

Social media marketing is an excellent tool used to keep your prospective and existing customers engaged. Once well managed, increased conversion rates will result.

13. Ask for referrals.

Do not be ashamed to ask for referrals. It has been proven time and again that when people ask they obtain a lot more than if they did not.  

Before you complete a project with a client, at the stage where good rapport has developed, simply ask if they know of any potential customers to refer who would benefit from something similar.

14. Treat your clients as business partners. 

Let your clients know you view them as a strategic partner and ensure that they know you hope that they see you similarly. 

Formal communication channels should be created to make referral requests and to share the same.

15. Give a referral. It is an excellent way to get referrals in return.

 The old adage, ” you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” has always proven to be true and has helped businesses get referrals.

Asking for referrals is one of the simplest ways you can generate new business. Which one of these strategies will you use to generate new sales leads?