Which marketing or sales strategy gives the best return on investment? 

Outbound marketing? Email campaigns? PPC advertisements?

In actuality, there is a clear winning tactic that no other strategy can compete with.

The winner here is referral sales.

Although they never demand a financial investment, referral sales generate precious warm leads.

Regrettably, most salespeople approach referrals incorrectly.

However, by enhancing how your sales team solicits referrals, you can achieve significant results without spending a fortune on marketing or advertising.

You are lucky today since you will learn how to maximize your referral sales and the best technique to request them.

However, let's first define what referral sales are.

What Are Referral Sales?

The goal of referral sales is to persuade your current customers to provide your sales staff with the contact details of their colleagues, typically with the intention that you will use the existing customer as a referral when you speak with the new lead.

With referral sales, you use the trust you've established with your client and their relationship with the new lead to initiate a sales conversation.

As Philip Kotler says in the quote below.

Philip Kotler’s quote

How to Ask for Sales Referrals 

6 key sales referral tactics

The names and contact information of customers' friends are frequently withheld from salespeople.

To avoid making the client more hesitant or harming your relationship with them, your representative must ask for references to encourage the client to provide such information.

Once the customer has enjoyed using the goods or service, you must make a subtly worded request.

Also, you need to persuade the client that he is supporting the person who has been suggested by asking him questions like:

Because you have profited from utilizing our offering, who else do you know who might require it or benefit from it?

Also, you can successfully ask for recommendations by utilizing these six crucial strategies:

  1. Ask for recommendations once a customer has benefited from your product or service or given you positive feedback.
  2. Ask the clients for assistance rather than giving them instructions.
  3. Make it simple by being clear in your request, and produce a brief outline or template of the referral you desire so the client can immediately assist you.
  4. See who your customers are and who their connections are on LinkedIn.
  5. By mentioning the referring customer by name in your messaging, you can connect the recommendation to the new prospects.
  6. You should invite consumers to introduce themselves if your bond is strong.

Bonus tips:

  1. Thank the client for recommending and informing them of your advancement.
  2.  Encourage your top referrers by offering rewards and showing your gratitude.

The Appropriate Time To Ask For A Sales Referral

When someone purchases, you must implement the sales referral approach.

Take advantage of this opportunity and push many clients to refer you immediately following a successful transaction.

You typically need to request customers' recommendations.

Most of your customers will be okay to speak well of your offerings and suggest you to their contacts; it just never occurred to them.

Dale Carnegie quoted that 91% would give referrals when asked, and only 11% of salespeople ask their customers for referrals.

Dale Carnegie referrals' quote

You are guaranteed something only if you ask for it.

Here are several circumstances in which you must start your sales referral approach immediately with an existing customer:

1. When Customer Needs Are Met

You've earned the right to request a referral once you've demonstrated your worth, gone above and above, kept your word, and eased your worries.

If you're not sure they're happy, don't ask.

2. When Your Pipeline Is Full

Be sure to reach potential or existing consumers before the pipeline has dried up.

A structured procedure should be used to encourage regular, high-quality sales recommendations.

3. When Customers Say They Are Happy

Whenever clients commend you or express gratitude for a job well done, you can use your best sales referral script to urge them to mention you to those you can similarly assist. 

Useful phrases include:

  • I'm delighted you're happy.
  • Could you introduce me to someone else if you know of someone else who would gain the same advantages?
  • As I have helped you, I'm constantly looking for people I can assist.

4. When You Have Reached A Milestone

They may have used your assistance to accomplish a professional or personal objective. 

Or you've been collaborating for a while.

These are the instances when clients appreciate what you can do and are eager to recommend you to others.

5. When You Post Something On Social Media

It is simpler to seize sales referrals, thanks to social media.

You can stretch out and use social media platforms in addition to email templates to get sales referrals.

The game is taking a turn so fast that Social media swooped in and is now gradually replacing digital marketing.

As long as a digital influencer has established their credibility, people will also trust them when they write reviews.

Also, encourage happy customers to publish on their Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channels to endorse your assistance to their followers.

6. When You Organize A Webinar or A Workshop

Customers occasionally request special offers, cost-free transportation, longer terms, or more amenities.

If possible, comply with the request and introduce your sales referral approach.

The Benefits of Referral Sales 

Referral leads are valuable since they are obtained from more reliable sources and are simpler to close than leads obtained through other means.

Referral Leads Are Highly Qualified

84 percent of B2B sales decision-makers claim to base their purchases on recommendations.

Percentage of B2B sales decision-makers who base their purchases on recommendations

The new leads that your existing customers pass along are often members of your target market looking for tools and software similar to those used by their peers.

This makes them highly qualified leads.

Closing Referral Sales Saves Time

You save time and money on the front end of the sales funnel since referral prospects are highly qualified.

That's because a streamlined referral sales strategy makes it easy to gather, investigate, contact, and qualify leads, which saves you time.

Referral Sales Generate More Revenue

According to a study, the sales margins on referral-based consumer purchases are 25% (source already cited) more than those from new non-referred customers.

Number of purchases by referral-based consumers compared to non-referred customers

Keep in mind that referred customers save you money.

Referred customers have lifetime values 16% higher than those acquired in other ways.

Hence, suggested clients provide a superior overall return on investment (ROI).

Referral Leads Are More Trustworthy

In reference to a LinkedIn Study, trust is the most crucial aspect when potential customers contemplate whether to make a purchase.

Also, according to Nielsen's Global Trust in Advertising Study from 2021, which interviewed 40,000 people in 56 countries, 88% of consumers indicated they trusted recommendations from friends over all other marketing communications.

As a result, you benefit from a foundation of trust because you're meeting these new leads through their friends and peers.

Referral Sales Programs Help You Track Loyal Customers

You may show how much you value your repeat customers by rewarding them for referring others to your business.

As a result, they'll be more attracted to doing business with you in the future and more willing to recommend you to others.

Steps To Asking For a Client Referral

Which steps should you take to ask for a client referral? 

Here is the answer.

Steps for asking for referrals from a client

Step 1: Identify Your Advocates and Loyal Supporters

The first stage in requesting a client referral is finding individuals most likely to have something to say about you, such as your biggest supporters and promoters.

Happy customers understand precisely why they are happy.

Therefore, they will likely know others with similar needs and could use what you offer. 

Happy customers are also more inclined to recommend you to others, as was already noted.

According to published research in the AMA Journal of Marketing, satisfied clients are more loyal and bring higher profits. 

Make a list of the clients you should contact after determining who these individuals are.

For instance, the outcomes of Net Promoter Score (NPS®) surveys are a terrific approach to finding your most content customers if your company uses them.

Step 2: Get Specific With Your Request

You should be precise in your request for a recommendation.

To get the kind of qualified lead you want, you need to be sure the consumer understands what you're asking them.

If you are explicit, customers can know who to ask or what kind of customer you need.

This makes it more challenging to do your job if you spend extra time validating a referral's lead after receiving it.

For a company selling marketing SaaS, here is a simple illustration of how that may appear.

How to get specific when asking a client for a referral

Step 3: Reach Out in The Correct Channels

Another reason it's critical to identify the clients you want to direct business to is that it enables you to research them and determine the channels in which they spend their time.

Doing this lets you approach them where they are and boost your chances of getting a response.

For instance, if a satisfied client rarely uses LinkedIn, you would want to avoid approaching them.

If you collaborate with marketing and see that they have a high email open rate, you should contact them there.

Step 4: Personalize The Request

When you request a referral from a client, make the request personalized to them by letting them know why you need their help.

This tip ties in closely with the suggestion to be particular in your request since it helps the customer know that you are speaking to them specifically.

Utilize their name in your request to establish a link and reference events in your relationship history, demonstrating that you know their interactions with your company.

But avoiding exploiting your clients is crucial; you don't want them to feel used.

Therefore, it's possible that using incentives is crucial.

Step 5: Say Thank You

Finally, express gratitude.

The customer is doing you a huge favor.

Therefore, you should appreciate them and let them know it.

You can, of course, say thank you.

But, it is worthwhile to consider providing incentives, as described above, and then continuing to deliver excellent service that satisfies them and makes them want to recommend you to others initially.

Mistakes To Avoid With Referral Sales

After you've made a deal with a customer, asking for more from them can be intimidating.

You might be concerned that requesting more will compromise the current or upcoming business.

Also, you might worry that a recommendation request will result in a difficult situation.

Or you're worried that making a second request will appear aggressive.

Don't let these worries hinder you.

Always asking for them is your best mistake regarding sales referrals.

Here are some other typical mistakes to avoid:

1. Not Communicating Effectively

Your consumers won't give you referrals if they can't do so without difficulty.

To prevent this error, ensure clients know about your referral program and the benefits they will receive from referrals.

For instance, if you provide an incentive, promote it and make it explicit.

You can add it to email templates or phone and email scripts.

2. Not Engaging in Ongoing Promotion

More than one reference request is required.

That is why more than asking for a referral is needed.

Make sure your clients have as many opportunities as possible to recommend you.

If you provide incentives, develop evergreen marketing efforts to continue promoting the referral program.

Referral Strategies That Will Double Your Sales 

Are you prepared to receive top-quality leads right into your sales pipeline?

Discover the top referral sales advice:

Recognize the Best Timing

Several distinct consumer touchpoints are ideal places to inquire about a reference. 

Remember that the best times to ask clients for referrals are after satisfying conversations and after they've experienced the benefits of using your product or service.

Occasionally, that occurs immediately after closing a transaction or onboarding the customer.

In this case, the customer had a positive experience with you because they decided to purchase from you.

To do this efficiently, make it easy for your customer to refer you.

For instance, include a request form or link where customers enter the contact details of referrals.

This will immediately add a referral lead source tag to your CRM.

Asking for referrals may make more sense when your customer has gotten value or taken an action that shows they received value.

If you watch your customers' success with your product/service, contact them and ask for referrals.

You can also check social media and other review sites for positive feedback, usually given right after a good experience with your firm.

Send customer check-ins and surveys occasionally and ask for referrals from satisfied customers.

Find the Right Advocate

Only ask contented clients for recommendations.

The valuable part is that you can quickly recognize them by applying some of the strategies we have already discussed.

  1. Monitor your industry's social media and other well-known review sites. A satisfied client has left a favorable evaluation for you, so congratulations!
  2. Based on who rates their experience favorably, use customer satisfaction surveys to pinpoint referral sources.

When they see good feedback and engagement, have your social media manager share information about your referral process.

Also, have someone on your team monitor popular review sites and have a process for reacting to comments and telling happy customers about your referral program.

Collaborating with the marketing or customer service teams is suitable for building a customer satisfaction survey you send out at specific touchpoints or time cadence. (quarterly, for example).

Request referrals from satisfied clients.

Use a Referral Request Script

You should prepare a script before cold calling someone for a reference.

We recommend something like this (adjust as necessary based on your referral and business program):

Referral Request Script

Say anything along these lines if your client recommends you:

referral script if client recommends you

After that, provide them with this sample:

referral sale sample

If, during the phone call, your client declines to offer a referral and requests more time to consider, respond as follows:

How to reply when your client declines to offer a referral

Create a template for the follow-up right away. Here's a sample that sales representatives could use:

A follow-up email after asking for a sale referral

You should use an email template that looks like this:

sales referral for your client to send out

Making scripts and templates a regular component of your customer referral program is crucial. 

Not only does this save your firm time, but it also helps you to test out other programming languages and features to improve your workflow continuously.

Make Referrals Part of Every Deal

Make referral sales a natural part of the purchasing process once you've had success with them.

Say something like this after the initial meetings went well, and it appears the prospect will buy: 

How to ask for referrals between sale process

Since no one has ever overheard someone say, "No, I want you to spend less time on product and service and more time on marketing and sales, so there is no point in suggesting you to anyone."

Take the chance head-on and continue like the following:

continue the referral sales

Moreover, you can include referral requests in your drip and email marketing programs.

Ask for an Intro, Not a Sale

When a sale is unnecessary, requesting an introduction to a new prospect is advisable.

This is especially okay if you want more people to know and use your brand instead of just promoting your products and services.

If you discover that your customers are reluctant to make referrals at a specific point in your outreach efforts or sales cycle, you may ask for gentle introductions instead.

In such instances, you can modify the referral request at that point to use gentler language.

For instance, let your current clients know you constantly seek to connect with and learn more about people who can profit from your company.

Make the soft recommendation appealing to the present consumer as well.

Based on the research done by your organization, think of a few ways you might provide value for them, for as by providing them with knowledge about market trends or their rivals.

Remember to make an introduction email template for soft introductions!

Add links to your blog or email, landing sites for your best products, or gratifying client feedback and testimonials.

Give your customers a simple way to recommend you, even with gentle introductions.

Close the Feedback Loop

Ask the person you are closing a transaction with:

"Who is accountable for all your benefits from using our product/service?"
You'll likely hear something like, "Umm...
Who? You mean. You?
You respond by saying, "No, the one who introduced us..."
"Oh yeah, Bob!"
For example, you may say,
"Would you do me an honor and send Bob a brief email of gratitude to let him know how much you value it?”

You close the feedback loop once they send Bob the thank-you email.

Bob is therefore motivated to recommend additional people as a result.

When Bob receives the email, his first impression would be, "Wow, they valued my advice.

Do I know anyone else?

Everyone wants to establish fruitful relationships and assist others in learning what they value.

Word-of-mouth marketing is the best way for your company to obtain uninvited referrals.

Offer Referral Incentives 

In some circumstances, including a reward that motivates clients to make referral requests may make sense.

This might include savings, cost-free subscription upgrades, or more modest incentives like gift cards and merchandise (water bottles, apparel, etc.).

Aside from that, consider if your company might benefit from an affiliate program.

If you offer a referral bonus, mention it in all your communications with current clients.

Look at this example - a case study on PayPal's referral marketing program.

At one point, they were growing by 7 to 10 percent a day. What a great referral marketing technique!

Use LinkedIn

Obtaining references through networking is possible for free on the sizable professional social network LinkedIn.

Also, you can quickly locate qualified second-degree connections that your clients can introduce you to using LinkedIn's Advanced People Search function.

Having a message that will enable them to say yes quickly and simply is essential for success when trying to convince someone to recommend someone. (see the example below)

text to your client for a sales referral

To begin, select People in the search box at the top of the page's drop-down menu.

You can use the search filters here to narrow down your results by second-degree connections or criteria like industry, title, keywords, and region to produce a list of referral prospects.

You can choose the best reference candidates this way to recommend to your client.

Nurture Leads

Lead nurturing at every sales funnel stage involves establishing and fostering connections with customers or potential customers.

An effective lead nurturing program aims to direct all of your marketing and communication activities toward understanding the needs of prospects and customers and meeting those needs by offering the appropriate solutions and information.

Maintaining brand loyalty also entails long-term involvement with current clients.

The nurturing process will help your prospects and current customers become more receptive to your referral requests, helping you build solid and long-lasting relationships with them.

Go Beyond Expectations

Do you want people to refer you to others even when you don't ask for them?

Word of mouth is the greatest technique for your business to get unsolicited referrals. 

Because customer loyalty is so important, you must gain their trust and respect by providing high-quality products, thoughtful gestures, and excellent customer service.

You must also go above and beyond for your clients by promoting their material on social media, referencing them in your writing, and establishing yourself as a helpful resource. 

Once you have delighted your customers with these actions, they will spontaneously spread the word about you to their network.

Simplify the Task of Providing Referrals

Make a form that clients can use to recommend your business to their friends.

This can be a form on your company's website, an email template, or a form with the transaction receipt.

See the example of a referral form below.

simple referral form

Establishing the concept and making it easier to give referrals would encourage customers to do the same.

Creating a dashboard where clients can monitor their referrals, ask inquiries, and view their incentives should also be automated.

Engage Existing Customers

By developing plans to keep customers engaged with your business, you should continuously invest in every relationship you establish.

This would keep your company at the forefront of your client's minds, increasing the likelihood that they will recommend you to others.

The following are some suggestions for keeping clients engaged:

  1. After the sale, stay in touch and continue to grow your relationship.
  2. A vibrant community with a common set of ideals.
  3. Continue to deliver value with new offerings, enlightening information, and frequent check-ins.

Create Impressive Blog Content

You can establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and encourage others to spread your message.

A great blog article that educates and benefits your target audience should be written, posted online, and encouraged to be shared by others.

Your readers will eventually refer customers to you for your products and solutions if you establish a reputation for assisting people through your content.

With the help of this method, your blog will generate free automatic referrals.

Create a Customer Referral Program

Implementing a customer referral program is the best way for your team to proactively get new referrals.

By demonstrating that you have a sound system in place and are self-assured enough to understand that a referral program is a good investment, a referral program boosts your credibility.

As a result of your well-organized and safe system, your clients will feel more at ease discussing information about their peers.

Furthermore, Customer reviews and peer recommendations are more credible in the eyes of 70% of consumers than any content prepared by professionals. (Reference: Reevo)

Percentage of customers who find peer reviews more credible

Customers are also more inclined to promote you and act on your requests when you provide them with a pre-planned incentive as part of your referral program.

As time goes on, they'll be inspired to offer more ideas.

Stay Aligned to Your Customer's Values

Before you ask for a customer's referral, you must research what they genuinely value.

After completing the research, you can match your rewards or recognition to those principles.

This will assist you in helping them understand the advantages of making a referral.

Customers are more inclined to offer a referral if they feel that you share their interests and values.

But, you must be sincere about upholding these ideals, as customers can spot insincere attempts and will likely call you out on it, ruining your brand's reputation.

Final Thoughts

Are you hoping to grow your business and boost it using referral sales?

Be sure that you are not alone.

At AI bees, our AI-powered marketing platform provides modern methods for success in maximizing your referral sales potential.

Using our cutting-edge tools and strategies, you may effortlessly interact with your customers and entice them to recommend your company to their families and friends.

Schedule a demo to utilize the opportunity to expand your business and increase sales.