How to Ask for a Referral
Client referrals are a vital part of how many businesses operate. If you are serving your clients well, most of them will be happy to refer your business. However, referrals are a lot more likely to happen if you request them. Craft a direct and personalized referral request for your clients, and follow up regularly to generate even more referrals. Make the referral process as easy as possible for your clients by using referral templates, review sites, and marketing materials.
Making the Request
Make your request personal.Targeted referral requests tend to generate a better response than mass emails or a general request on your website. Reach out to individual clients directly.
- Try to target clients with whom you have a good, well-established relationship. If a client trusts you and is familiar with your work, they’re more likely to give you a great referral.
Ask while you are still working with the client.The best time to ask for a referral is while you are still actively completing a project with a client. That way, the client is still fully engaged with you, and has a clear idea of what kind of work you do.
Be direct.There’s no need to beat around the bush. If you’ve been doing great work for a client, it’s completely reasonable to ask for a referral. You can make the request in person, over the phone, or through email.
- For example, if you decide to request a referral via email, let your client know what you are asking for within the first couple of sentences.
- You might start with something like, “Dear Robert, As I work toward expanding my practice over the coming year, I am reaching out to trusted clients to help me generate more business.”
Be specific about what kinds of referrals you want.Your client will be better able to help you if they know exactly what you’re looking for. Target your request to someone the client is likely to be familiar with, or someone who has similar needs to the client’s.
- For example, instead of just asking, “Do you know anyone else who might need a real estate agent?” try asking, “Do you know any other young couples looking for a starter home in this price range?”
Always thank your clients for their referrals.If you show your appreciation for every referral, your clients will feel more motivated to keep sending business your way.There are a lot of ways to express gratitude for a referral:
- Give your client a simple written or verbal “thank you,” or send a thank-you card.
- Send a simple gift, like flowers or a nice pen.
- Treat your client to dinner.
- Some businesses may offer referral incentives, like a gift card or discount on future services. However, non-monetary rewards tend to generate a stronger sense of trust and community.
Keep reminding your clients to refer you.Even if you haven’t done business with them in a long time, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with your clients and let them know that you still appreciate their support. Send an occasional email or note card to touch base. Ask them how they are doing, and state upfront that you are interested in any business they might be able to send your way.
Time your follow-up requests strategically.Don’t bombard your clients with referral requests and reminders constantly. Choose a regular schedule for getting in touch with key referral sources.
- For example, you might send out reminders once every three or six months.
- If demand for your services tends to spike at a particular time of the year, send out referral requests a few weeks before that.
Making the Referral Process Easy
Send your clients a template email.This is one of the easiest ways to simplify the referral process. Give your client a simple referral email script, so that all they need to do is put in their own name and send it to a couple friends.
- Your template should include a brief description of your business and what kinds of services you offer.
Put a referral form on your website.Develop a simple referral form that clients can fill out on their phone or computer, and send them the link when you make a referral request.
Link clients to your business’s page on review sites.Review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List offer a great way for clients to get the word out about your business. Looking at positive reviews from other satisfied clients can also give them ideas about how to put their own experience with you into writing.
- Put links to your review site pages on your website, and include them in email communications with clients.
- Encourage clients to review your business on these sites. Ask them to point potential referrals in the direction of your positive reviews and testimonials online.
When asking your clients for a referral, be specific about the kind of referrals you want. For example, instead of asking, “Do you know anyone else who’s looking for an apartment?” try asking, “Do you know any other students looking for an apartment in this price range?” Remember to thank your clients verbally or in writing for their referrals, and follow up with an email every 3 to 6 months to ask for new referrals.
Video: Million Dollar Script How To Ask For Referrals Without Feeling Awkward - Get More Referrals Ep. 12
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