Referrals: An effective way to earn business in which
one individual endorses the services of another
individual to a third party in an effort to increase
everyone’s income

There is no better way to earn clients than with the help of others. Cold calling and telemarketing are necessary, but what separates the good reps from the average reps are those who can best get referrals. And what separates the OUTSTANDING reps from the good reps are those who don't settle.

Obtaining referrals is about more than just asking customers for them. It's about knowing when to ask, what to ask, and providing referrals back.

When to ask

Ask for referrals any time you find there is synergy between you and whoever you are speaking with.

Don't limit yourself to customers upon successful delivery of your service. Sure, this is a terrific time. But other prime opportunities include when the customer signs on the dotted line, when there is a “crisis” and you resolve it, when you speak with prospects and you are connecting, as well as existing vendors of yours, and networking relationships.

Let’s take the first scenario. Some salespeople argue that until they "prove" they will deliver on their promise, a customer would not want to refer them business. But if a customer had any doubts as to your service operating or the product working, they would not buy. They'd voice objections. They think they've made a great decision. Think about it. When is a person most excited? Is it when the product arrives or when they commit themselves to buying? It’s actually an equal excitement. If anything, they are more excited when they commit, because it’s also a relief they have reached a conclusion.

Now let’s look at the second case, where there’s a crisis – that is resolved. Customers are not foolish. We all know things can go wrong, in anything we do. What separates the best from the rest is how it is resolved. Studies have shown the number one reason people decide to switch vendors anyway is not price. It’s service. So if you resolve an issue, say this,

“Well, John, I’m glad we could resolve this in a timely, somewhat painless fashion. I’m sorry you had to go through it, but hopefully you now see the great service we provide. Who do you know…?”

Lastly, prospects are great referral sources. In fact, sometimes they are the best, because referring you business is a way out to not have to deal with you. Here’s how it works.

“Well, John, it sounds like we really can’t help you, but I do believe you know now how we can help others. Perhaps you could help me out this way. Who do you know…..?”

If we agree asking for referrals is about having synergy with who you are speaking, this list goes well beyond customers and prospects.

Family, friends, internal employees, past customers from previous jobs and past prospects from previous jobs are all potentials referrals source. In addition, current vendors can be great opportunities. This includes your accountant, lawyer, barber, insurance provider, office supplies and phone provider.

Here's some suggested verbiage when approaching vendors:

"Much as I have been a loyal customer of yours, perhaps you or those you know can become a customer of mine."

What to ask?

The three most powerful sales strategies that exist today are: A smile, the word help and someone's name. There is no sweeter sounding word in the language of life than the sound of our names. You can never say it enough.

Next, everyone wants to help and everyone wants to get help, if they think they are helping and if they think you can help. Ask it.

"John, I was wondering if you could help me. You know how hard jobs are like mine. Who do you know of who could benefit from our services. My ideal clients are companies like...

This “companies like…” is critical to the referral process. Know who your ideal client is and tell the prospect. Mention other names and offer suggestions.

-For instance at TBN Sales Solutions we say. Our ideal client is:

-A company with less than 10 salespeople or between 20 and 50 employees

-Revenues between $1 million and $20 million

-Non-traditional kind of sales where the reps may grow the accounts, rather than hunt

-The reps get some sort of commissions or bonus.

-And often they have never had formalized sales training.

This includes financial planners, mortgage brokers, and recruiters. I also speak to associations and organizations.

“Make it easy for people to help you and they will. Make it hard and they won’t.”

When they do give you the referral, don’t settle. Get greedy – in a good way. Say this:

"You do? Terrific. I'm going to get real greedy now. Do you still talk to them? It would really HELP me if you could leave them a message telling them I will call."

Provide Referrals Back

There is no better way to get referrals than to give referrals. Look for opportunities to help prospects, not just clients, in any way you can. It doesn’t even have to be a potential client you are referring them to. Often, information is just as powerful or if you know someone in a similar business, this is huge. “Networking referrals,” as we call them at TBN Sales Solutions are very powerful, for instance. This is where you know of a potential strategic alliance that you think can help another.

The key to giving referrals, though, is don’t just give a name. Make it a blazing warm lead. Here’s how you do it:

1. Send a 3 way e-mail where you say right in the subject, “referrals for (both parties)

2. Say in the e-mail, “I have a referral for you.”

3. Include everyone’s contact information

4. Describe and compliment both parties in the e-mail

What you will discover is that by doing it this way, you have actually given two referrals. Although one of the parties may stand to get money out of it and the other will get services they will pay for, both accounts will love you. Both will view you as providing true solutions.

Think of it this way. There are two ways companies make money today: increase revenues or impact their bottom line by buying better. Attach both concepts and your sales will skyrocket.

Happy selling!

Author's Bio: 

Todd Natenberg, President, TBN Sales Solutions, is the author of the book, "I just got a job in sales. Now what?" A Playbook for Skyrocketing Your Commissions. TBN Sales Solutions increases commissions for salespeople and profits for businesses through customized training, coaching and consulting. They establish structures and procedures in all facets of the sales process, through classroom workshops and individual sales coaching, to teach reps to control their own destiny, to impact the bottom line. Visit for more information. Todd can be reached at 866-464-0339 or e-mail