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How to Ask for Referrals (Without Being Annoying)

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a USA Today bestselling author and the co-founder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing and sales coaching company...

Chris Smith is a USA Today bestselling author and the co-founder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing and sales coaching company...

Sep 19 5 minutes read

Let’s face it: asking for referrals can be annoying. 

But it doesn’t have to be!

Here are my 9 best practices for taking the pain out of the referral process.

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1. Have a script

It’s a huge mistake to wing it. The conversations shouldn’t be robotic, but they should be robust. You might not know exactly what you’re going to say (in fact, you should never know exactly) but you should know what you’re going to talk about and when and why. Have a purpose, have a script, have Preferred Additional Outcomes.

What are your Preferred Additional Outcomes? If your main goal is to get a referral but you don’t get that, what are your PAOs? A call back 3 days from now? A written testimonial?

2. Time when you’re asking for referrals with Net Promoter Score surveys 

Timing is critical. 

We use data to help us decide when to ask for referrals and reviews.

We use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) system. On a scale from 1-10, how likely are you to recommend us?

We only ask for referrals from people who gave us a 10 out of 10.

Tip: Call people who said within the last 30 days that they’d love to send a referral.

3. Remind them very clearly that YOU convinced them to do this

Make sure they remember that they love the results of the work you’ve done together. You’re only asking the top scores for referrals, so you know they’re happy with what you’ve done for them. You’re part of why their business is growing, why they love their new home, why their problems have been solved.

4. Block off an entire day to focus on referrals

It’s incredibly difficult to jump in and make a part of every day asking for referrals. So instead, we make it an event, a fun day for company culture at the office. We buy some food and beer,  then focus on getting better and having fun with it all day.

5. Offer an offer

If you’re going to ask for a referral you have to offer an incentive that goes beyond just doing you a favor.

At Curaytor, we give you $500 per referral AND we take away $500 from the referral’s first month bill. We provide financial incentive.

Your success rate asking for referrals goes up a lot when you a) only ask people who give you high NPS scores and b) offer them an incentive to do so.

Key Stat: 60% of people who are referred to us actually buy, so referrals are frequently earning our clients money.

6. Use normal language 

The best compliment anyone can give is a referral. You’ve heard that before… but only on a business card or an email subject. People don’t actually talk that way.

Jason Dorsey gives a great example of how to ask for referrals from Millennials.

“Do you have any friends I can help?”

Translate that for your business if you need to: 

“Do you have any agents outside of your market that you think we could help?”

“Do you know any local small business owners that my company could benefit?” 

7. Make them feel good about referring

Not only do 60% of our referrals become customers, they also stick around longer.

Referrals contribute to our community for years, not months.

Our community gets better when people get added. It’s the network effect.

Tell them: Not only do you save and get money, but you’re bringing the right kind of clients into our community.

8. Make it crystal clear when you will be following up

Plus: Tell them that you will be dropping their name and that you will report back

You need to make it clear and say “Hey, I’m going to call these referrals, drop your name, I’ll let them know you thought they were a good fit for us, and I’ll let you know how it goes.”

9. Give them something just for their time

Just for giving us a referral, we give our clients a Starbucks gift card or a credit to our Curaytor shop. Even if the referrals don’t buy, we’re thankful they took the time to talk with us and that they are willing to refer us. So we send them a thank you no matter what.

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