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How to Ask for Customer Referrals More Effectively

Jun 11th, 2015

When you have to ask for customer referrals, do you break out in a sweat? Does your heart start to pound faster? It’s a normal response. Because most small business owners don’t like to be a nuisance and ask their customers for referrals.

But the truth is, it costs a lot less to acquire a referral customer. And they’re more likely to remain a loyal customer for a longer time.

However, to get these referral customers in the first place, you have to ask your existing customers to recommend your business, products or services to others. Maybe part of your hesitation in asking your customers for referrals is that you haven’t had much success in the past making inquiries. But, perhaps that’s because you’re going about it the wrong way.Gain More Referrals

When many business owners ask for a referral, they may say something like:

  • “Do you know anybody who’s thinking about buying ‘xyz’?”
  • “Do you know anybody who may be interested in buying ‘xyz’?”

The first problem with this type of request is, you’re asking a closed question that will likely be answered with “No, not at this time.”

The second problem is, this type of question forces your customer to think about EVERYONE they know. Then he/she has to decide WHO out of all of their family and friends could benefit from your products or services.

The better way to ask for a referral is to be more specific in your “ask.” Instead of asking them if they know “anyone,” request a specific name. Educate the person, through your question, about your target customer. Ask for people who can benefit from your company’s solutions. For example:

  • The owner of a chimney sweep company might say: “Can you give me the name of a friend who lives in Hendricks County who owns a house with a fireplace that they frequently use? Someone who could benefit from having their chimney cleaned to reduce their risk of a house fire?”
  • The owner of a payroll services company might say: “Can you give me the name of a small business owner who recently hired more employees and has mentioned that they’re having problems keeping up with their payroll changes? Someone who could benefit from having a payroll service provider handle their payroll processes for them, so he/she can concentrate on their business?”
  • The owner of a mortgage lending company might say: “Can you give me the name of a friend who’s looking to buy a home that they can remodel and make it their own, but they’re not sure how they’re going to pay for their new home and the renovations?”

When you frame your “ask” question in this manner, you’re helping your customers focus specifically on who they know that best fits your request. And a better lead provides you with a better chance of a potential sale – helping you to grow your business.

To Your Success!