Powerful Referral Strategies

Love them or hate them, referrals are one of the most crucial components of a successful inbound sales strategy. In fact, there’s no more reliable way to grow any business than through sourcing referrals — but only if it’s done in a systematic, smart way. Unfortunately, most salespeople use outdated, hit-or-miss methods to get referrals.

It’s no wonder that referrals inspire dread — and procrastination — for so many.

But referrals don’t have to be the bane of your existence. Instead, they can transform your sales for the better. The following referral strategies, when implemented systematically as part of your sales approach, can double your sales within one year.


1. Overcome your fear of asking– If you’re afraid of asking for introductions, you’re not alone. Many salespeople balk at the prospect of starting a conversation to ask for an introduction. The only way to get over this fear is to just ask anyway. Think of it this way: You’ll never lose business by asking for an introduction, but you never know how much business you’ll lose by not asking at all.

2. Leverage your entire network– Take advantage of your entire network. And when it comes to referrals, this is especially true. Don’t limit yourself to just one group of your network when you ask for introductions. Your existing clients are a great resource, but they’re far from the only one.

Your past customers, industry connections, former and present colleagues, friends, family members, social acquaintances, friends of friends — everyone is fair game. The more people you include in your quest for introductions, the more introductions you’ll get, plain and simple.

3. Ask for one introduction per day-Failing to hold themselves accountable to numbers is one of the most common reasons why salespeople don’t get referral business. If your goal is five introductions per week, then create a system that holds you accountable to that number every single week.

The key is to make sure that your goals are realistic, and to use a reliable online calendar or CRM system to track your introductions. Holding yourself accountable to your new introduction strategy will lead to a dramatic increase in your sales.

4. Strategically time your referral requests – There is a time-tested sales technique that always works: when a customer is satisfied, ask them for three referrals. You may not get three, but you will often get two and almost always get at least one.

Asking for a referral during the negotiation process can also be effective. Instead of immediately offering discounts, propose a value exchange: provide a price reduction in exchange for a referral or testimonial once the client is happy with your work.

The best time to ask for a referral is when a client is genuinely thrilled with your work. This is your “Golden Moment”, so be sure to take advantage of it every time.

5. Incentivize referrals with tangible rewards – Offering incentives is a highly effective strategy for generating customer referrals. People often need a little extra motivation to take action, even if they love your product or service.

By providing a tangible reward—for instance, a discount on their next purchase, a small gift, or even entry into a contest for larger prizes—customers feel appreciated for their referrals and have a clear benefit to doing so.