Why Referrals in Sales Are Important and How To Ask For Them

BY Jessica Helinski
Featured image for “Why Referrals in Sales Are Important and How To Ask For Them”

Referrals in sales are one of the most effective ways to increase business, but, according to SalesFuel’s research, not many sellers are getting them. The Voice of the Sales Rep study revealed that sellers say, on average, only 29% of their prospects or accounts have given a referral or introduction. 

Why you need to seek out referrals in sales

Referrals are effective for many reasons, with trust being a big factor. Today’s buyers are increasingly wary, especially of ads and marketers. But if someone they know and trust recommends a product, service or company, they are more likely to consider it. The seller has already established enough credibility to inspire the referral, so buyers begin the relationship with pre-​established trust. 

Additionally, sales generated from referrals can lead to even more spending and profits. Not to mention, due to the nature of referrals, sales cycles can be much shorter than average. And, as 99firms reports, “the average referral rate directly correlates with customer retention rates. Referral marketing statistics show that customers referred by other customers are more likely to be loyal to your brand and spend more money.”

Sellers need to make the ask

Despite the research-​backed stats showing how powerful referrals can be, sellers just aren’t getting as many as they should. One issue may be that they simply aren’t asking for them. While inbound referrals are the easiest way to get referrals, sometimes reps need to step out of their comfort zone and solicit them. 

One tactic is to single out your most satisfied clients. Who has been the most successful with your solution? Who has been the most vocal about their satisfaction with your business? These are excellent candidates for genuine and high-​quality referrals in sales. David Jacoby, Sales Readiness Group, recommends considering the following when choosing who to ask:

  • Relationship length. The longer the time working together, the more established trust and loyalty. 
  • Frequency of communication. Who do you engage with the most?
  • Response speed. A quick response from a client, Jacoby explains, “shows that the client values the communication with you and is actively involved, which can positively impact their willingness to provide referrals.”

Easy steps for an easy ask

Jacoby shares how sellers can increase the likelihood that their requests are met. He first recommends that sellers ensure the timing is right. A perfect time for soliciting referrals in sales is immediately after the client has benefited; and it’s even more natural to ask after receiving a compliment or a thanks. This is the perfect opportunity to thank them, and then ask if they would refer you to others who may also benefit. 

When asking, make it as easy and convenient as possible for the client to refer you. It’s especially helpful if you have a specific person or company in mind. One way to prospect for potential future clients is to take a look at your current clients’ LinkedIn connections. Make sure you have a clearly defined ideal customer so that your requested connections are likely to be a good fit. Then, share those names with your client. J.C. McKissen suggests that you approach this from a place of care. He writes, “State your intent with care. You should let your colleague know how you intend to help the prospect resolve a challenge they are facing.” 

Keep in mind they may be unsure; give them space to feel comfortable saying no. Also, allow some time if you don’t hear back. Then, only follow up once. If you don’t hear back again, move on. 

If they do respond favorably, again, make it easy for them. “Provide your colleague with a pre-​written message they can pass along to their connection,” McKissen writes. “This will save your teammate time and make them more likely to make the referral.”

Referrals in sales have so many benefits for sellers, but they must be proactive in asking for them. With a thoughtful approach, reps can make sure that they generate quality referrals from happy clients without inconveniencing them. For more insights into sales referrals, check out SalesFuel’s other articles here.

Photo by Michael Burrows