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The Importance of Sales Referrals
Blog / For Sales Pros / Dec 6, 2018 / Posted by John Golden / 8065

The Importance of Sales Referrals


Ask for Advocacy: Why Sales Referrals are Important

Sales referrals are one of the best ways to get new outbound leads and potential clients. The lead comes from someone that you already know rapport with. Some of this rapport and trust is transferred to the new relationship, allowing you to close the deal faster. However, getting sales referrals takes work and prior planning, and many salespeople are reluctant to actually ask their clients to advocate for them. Learning the importance of sales referrals, and implementing techniques to develop a culture that embraces sales referrals, is key to generating more revenue, closing more deals, and connecting with more potential clients.

Reluctance to Ask For Referrals:

There is the tendency for salespeople to be reluctant when asking for referrals. There are a few different reasons for this. Many sales leaders will say that they have never thought about requesting their clients refer them out. Other people will say that they are hesitant to ask because they don’t want to put pressure on their clients, or talk to them past the sale. This reluctance only serves to hurt the salesperson, and limit their selling potential.

Before The Ask:

As a salesperson, constantly ask yourself, “what would I have to do to delight this customer, and really get them excited about the services I can provide?” If you keep that question in mind and strive to make a positive impact for your client, you are preparing to ask for a referral, and setting yourself up to get referred.

Delivering Value, First: 

Being successful at getting referrals isn’t just about asking for it.  There are many variables to consider when deciding on the appropriate time and manner to ask your client to refer you. One of the most important steps is to set yourself up for the ask by adding value to the customer’s life. Consider if you have delivered value or not. Any time prior to that may or may not be successful, but it will certainly be premature. You are asking your client to do something for you. If you do that before you do something for them, it’s unlikely that they will be a champion advocate on your behalf. Make a difference in people’s lives, make changes for them, and once you have done that and the customer is delighted, asking them to refer you is the natural next step. In fact, you may not even have to ask. Some customers will be so happy with the results that they will willingly see who they can refer to us.

Keeping the Momentum:

Timing is everything, and that’s no different for trying to earn sales referrals. But, due to the dynamic nature of selling, there isn’t one specific right time to ask. It’s generally agreed upon that you should ask for a referral after you have delivered value to your client. Specifically, after the sale has closed. Some people might be apprehensive and want to wait until their client has gotten results, but that can create a loss of momentum. Often times, with the way the sales process is structured today, you close the deal, hand the client off to customer success, and then move on. This means you miss out on the opportunity to ask for referrals. You have to ask while the connection is at its peak to get the best results.

How To Ask For a Referral:

Asking for a referral might seem simple, but it requires forethought and research. If you develop a good relationship with your client, have added value to your life, and then say “do you know anyone who might benefit from my service or product?” you’re probably not going to get the kind of response that you want. Instead, do your research before asking for the referral. See who the client has in their network. With the internet, it’s easier than ever to see who people are connected to, and it gives you the opportunity to identify a specific person or group of people that you want to your name passed on to. After you’ve identified the right person, be clear about why you could help this person.

Having the Confidence to Ask:

So much of asking for referrals is about having the confidence to ask, knowing that you have earned the client’s trust, added value to their life, and helped solve their problems. You deserve to be referred to their colleagues so that you can provide the same value to them. If you make a commitment to delivering value, the confidence to ask for the referral will be there.

What is the Target?:

If you want to make a lot of money in sales, don’t have making money is as your target. The target should be serving others. If you hit that target, by bringing value to a customer’s life and solving a problem that they are having, you get a reward in the form of money. The same mentality should be applied when a salesperson wants to increase referrals. The focus shouldn’t be on getting referred, it should be on working hard to serve those who have entrusted us to serve them, adding value to their life, and developing a solid relationship. The reward will be getting a successful referral.

Start Today:

If you haven’t embraced a referral culture, start embracing it! Asking for referrals is something that you can start doing, today. Look at where you have your best relationships. Seek out the clients who you have built the best rapport and connection with. Also, consider the clients that you have given the most value to. Go where the relationship is. Even if it’s not your most senior buyer, anyone in the organization that you’ve clicked with could be a great referral source. After you’ve determined a few people who you want to ask for referrals, ensure that you are specific with what you want to ask, that you’ve done your research, and have a plan. Then go for it!


Information for this article was sourced from this webinar on the importance of sales referrals, hosted by John Golden, featuring the expert sales opinions of Adrian Davis, Joanne Black, and Bob Burg

About Author

John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist, he has conducted over 1500 video interviews of thought leaders for Sales POP! online sales magazine & YouTube Channel and for audio podcast channels where Sales POP! is rated in the top 2% of most popular shows out of 3,320,580 podcasts globally, ranked by Listen Score. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.

Author's Publications on Amazon

John Golden, best selling author of "Winning the Battle for Sales" presents "Social Upheaval: How to Win At Social Selling" to explain how every B2B salesperson can add social selling methods to their toolkits, and why it is so important that they do so without…
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FROM THE CREATORS OF SPIN SELLING―TRIED-AND-TRUE STRATEGIES TO ARM YOU IN THE WAR FOR SALES SUPREMACY "I distinctly remember my first VP talking about 'campaigns' and 'targets.' Indeed, successful salespeople have made learning from military tactics an important aspect of their careers. In this engaging…
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