How to Ask for Referrals in Sales: The Ultimate Guide

Sales is all about networking and building relationships. Asking for referrals is a great way to get introduced to new potential customers and grow your business. But asking for referrals can be tough, especially if you’re not sure how to go about it. This guide will show you how to ask for referrals in sales so that you can get the most out of your network.

We’ll cover when to ask for referrals, what to say when you’re asking, and how to follow up after the fact. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the tools you need to confidently ask for referral business from your sales contacts.

How to Ask for Referrals in Sales

There are a few different ways how to ask for referrals in sales. One way is to simply ask your customers if they know anyone else who might be interested in your product or service.

Another way is to offer a discount or incentive for customers who refer someone to your business. You can also try asking for referrals from friends, family, and other business associates.

What is Referral Selling?

Asking your customers for referrals is a great way to open up new conversations. You already have the trust of the customer, and that trust can be transferred to a company you’re trying to sell to.

These sales are much more likely to result in closed deals than other types of lead generation.

Your current customers are one of your most valuable sources for new sales and referrals. While everyone agrees, few companies are good at this.

Getting referrals can be your #1 source for getting new clients. But, if you handle it right, it can turn into a huge revenue generator for you.

Who Should You Ask for Referrals?

The short answer to that is, everyone.

Asking clients for referrals, including those from former companies, is a great way to gain insights into how you work, what your ideal client looks like, and the value you add. Such feedback can be extremely helpful in furthering your career.

While your top referrers are your closest friends and family, there is hidden potential for referrals in every other area of your life.

The assumption that only certain people are worthwhile referral sources because our solutions or industries are super-complex and sophisticated is wrong.

Everyone has at least one friend.

Your network is vast. Think about all the connections you have.

All of those people in your life know other people that you don’t. It’s only until you ask for referrals that you’ll be able to tap into this hidden network of connections. You never know, the perfect referral could come from your attorney, a fellow airplane passenger, or even your neighbor.

Keep your options and possibilities open by asking for referrals from the people you know.

Your co-workers are some of your best potential referral sources. Everyone in your organization knows hundreds of people, and who understands the value of your organization better than your colleagues? Your colleagues are invested in the success of the company, and they can provide valuable referrals.

Who are your colleagues’ former employers? Who are their next-door neighbors?

Who were their classmates in college? Maybe one of them is related to someone who works for your dream client.

The people who work with or for you are a great resource when it comes to asking for referrals. Help them understand how to connect you with qualified leads, and they’ll be more likely to provide helpful referrals that can benefit your business.

Some clients don’t end up buying from you, but they may refer others to you. Perhaps your solution wasn’t quite the right fit for them, or they just weren’t able to afford it.

If you’ve built a good rapport with a prospect, even if they don’t end up working with you, you can still ask for referrals. That’s the silver lining!

When is the Best Time to Ask for a Referral?

Right after someone makes a payment.

Don’t waste time on customers who haven’t been around for long. Instead, focus on getting new customers.

Once a prospect has decided to purchase, you should seize the opportunity to grow your company by asking them to tell their friends about it.

If they then tell you they want to use the product or service first, then accept it.

But from personal experience, I can tell you that a significant percentage of customers will refer others to you immediately after they buy.

If you don’t ask for it, you won’t receive it.

Why Are So Many Salespeople Doing Referral Sales Wrong?

Salespeople are often afraid to ask for referrals because they worry that it might jeopardize the deal or turn a positive conversation into an awkward one. However, the best time to ask for a referral is right after you’ve closed the deal.

Salespeople are also afraid to ask for referrals because they might sound too pushy. But by waiting to ask, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.

If you want to find success in sales, don’t be afraid to go where others haven’t gone before. There is always an opportunity for those who are willing to take risks. Don’t let your fear get in the way of achieving your goals.

Customer Referral Letter Template

Once a customer is on board, give them some time to see the results of your work together. Let them decide whether you’re doing a good job or not.

After you’ve called a prospect, wait a few days before following up. Then, use these templates to ask for referrals.

Customer Success Manager: “It sounds like you’re happy with the work we’ve done together so far. Has this been your experience? If so, would you be willing to write a review or refer us to a friend?”

Customer: “No, I hadn’t thought about that.”

CSM: “Is it because you’re not satisfied with our service?”

Customer: “We love the service we’re getting from your company.”

CSM: “Fantastic! Perhaps your clients, vendors, or competitors could use this same level of service from a software firm like ours. What are your thoughts?”

Customer: “I don’t want to give you my competitors’ contact information, but there are a few companies I think you’d want to work with.”

CSM: “Your favorite vendor? Do they have other customers that you know?”

Customer: “We have a good relationship.”

CSM: “Do you know of any businesses that could benefit from our services?”

Customer: “Well, a few customers come to mind.”

CSM: “There sounds like an opportunity here. If you called or sent your favorite vendor an email, would they be receptive?”

If your client agrees that their vendor would be willing to receive a call from you, then go ahead.

If your client is hesitant to refer a vendor, assure them that by recommending someone, they would be helping that vendor, not putting you on their tail. Also, emphasize that your goal is to help companies, not annoy them.

Following up after an event is a great way to keep your business in the forefront of the client’s mind, and asking for referrals is a quick, easy way to do so.

How to Use Referral Emails to Find Prospective Customers

A business uses a referral email to message its customers and request that they refer them to others.

By leveraging your current customers’ networks, referral emails are a great way to find new, highly qualified leads that have similar problems or issues.

Your referral email should have an enticing subject line to grab your recipient’s attention. Make sure to include both addresses, so the recipient knows who the email is from. Finally, don’t forget to sign your email at the end.

The body of your email should mention your previous work, including an offer or incentive, and include a call to action.

Since referral emails are usually short, there’s no need to go into great detail about all of the positive things you’ve done for the person you’re referring.

If your potential customer already has a good relationship with your business, they won’t need to be persuaded with a recount of all of your history. This will save you time and energy in the long run.

According to research from the Wharton School, a potential customer who’s referred to you by a friend or colleague is much more likely to buy and stay with you. A referral has a 2X higher lifetime value to your company than a non-referral.

What’s more, these customers cost little to nothing to acquire — a win-win for your business and your referral program participants.

Start Sourcing Referral Opportunities

Acquiring customers doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. A great way to bring in new leads is by receiving referrals from your happy, existing customers.

If you want to build a word-of-mouth referral strategy that is as successful as traditional methods of acquiring customers, then you need an honest assessment of how satisfied your current customers are.


If you’re looking for ways to grow your sales pipeline, asking for referrals is a great place to start. By following the tips in this guide on how to ask for referrals in sales, you’ll be able to confidently ask your contacts for referral business. And with a little practice, you’ll be getting new leads and closing more deals in no time.

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