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If You’re Not Asking For Referrals, You Should Be!

If we, as sellers, don’t recognize that most businesses operate on referrals, what are the odds that the average customer does? How many of you are mistakenly assuming that people know you want referrals?

The Power of Exceptional Service

I bought a new phone last week, and I had no intention of buying a new phone.

I simply wanted Verizon to please, PLEASE fix my phone so that it would ring every time I received a call. Not every third or fourth time, like it was currently doing.

The salesperson who waited on me, let’s call him Bill, listened carefully to my needlessly lengthy explanation of the problem and exhibited great patience when his test calls came through perfectly (of course).

He gave me two options: replace the phone or upgrade to a new one.

I quickly shot down the upgrade. I was in a hurry and the thought of hanging out at the mall for more than a few minutes gave me a headache.

Besides, I liked my phone just fine, thank you. Except for that pesky habit of not ringing.

Bill nodded, asking me how I used my phone, what features I liked, what features I didn’t use, etc.

Despite my begrudgingly supplied answers, Bill gently and persistently led me to the conclusion that I needed a new phone.

The interesting part of this story is not that I got a new phone. It’s what happened after that.

In Sales, Referrals Are Priceless

Bill took exceptional care of me throughout the entire process, updating me on the data transfer, preparing my rebate so all it needed from me was a stamp and setting up my email.

When I thanked him (and this is where it gets interesting) Bill did something very unusual.

Something I’ve never seen any other retail phone salesperson do. He asked me for a referral.

“Just like in your business,” Bill said, slipping a few business cards into my bag after pointing out his cell number in case I had any questions about my new phone.

I walked away racking my brain for the names of people that I could refer to Bill.

Never Assume That People Know You Want Referrals

Though sales may be our business, we don’t always think to give referrals to other salespeople for certain types of products or services.

If we, as sellers, don’t recognize that these businesses operate on referrals, what are the odds that the average customer does?

How many of you are mistakenly assuming that people know you want referrals?

Why You Should Ask For A Referral

After you’ve provided excellent service (as Bill did), most people will be delighted to help you out and give you a referral.

Something in our nature triggers the desire to reciprocate; “Thank you,”  is often followed up by, “Oh no, thank you.”

Not allowing someone to return a favor denies them of one of life’s great pleasures.

Here are some tips to increasing your odds of getting a good referral.

5 Tips For Getting a Great Referral

  1. Be Specific

    The more specific you are about the type of referral you want, the easier you make the other person’s job. Asking a client to recommend your services as a broker is very different from asking him to recommend your services to anyone who might be getting married, having a child, or moving within the next year.

  2. Do Your Research

    If possible, find out which associations or groups that your client is a member of. Let her know which of her associates is a good fit for you and why.

  3. Promote Your Work

    If a client sees that you are working hard and earning more business, she will feel more confident recommending you to others. Don’t fly under the radar. Keep your clients up to date on your activities and successes. Social media is a terrific way to do this.

  4. Do Amazing Work

    Not occasionally. Not most of the time. Do amazing work every single time.

  5. Show Your Appreciation

    Don’t forget to thank your client for the referral even if nothing comes from it. Especially if nothing comes from it! You don’t want your client to feel like you’re disappointed if his lead doesn’t pan out. Clearly express your gratitude for each and every referral—no matter what the outcome.

As for me? I always appreciate a good referral. And I’m still looking for a few names to send to Bill. Anybody need a new phone?


The Improvised Sales Intelligence™️ Book of Play gives you the tools, tactics, and techniques to become a more effective and agile communicator in spontaneous sales conversations. Download the FREE Book of Play here.

About the author

Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen is the president of Performance Sales and Training , an international speaker…

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