6 Steps to Building a Powerful Lead Referral System

Asking for Referrals

If word-of-mouth is the best way to get new customers then referrals must be a close second. The problem with word-of-mouth advertising is you need a huge network of people who are talking about your products or services. Good Luck with that!

If a prospect does not let their friends know they are looking to buy then the chances of word of mouth advertising working are very slim. On the other hand if you know how to create a great referral network it can mean the difference between no leads and a steady supply of high quality, qualified warm leads.

6 Steps to Building a Referral System 

  1. Your current customer must be very happy with you and be willing to tell others. Look at your repeat or long time customers first.
  2. You must frame the referral in the right way. Asking people to hand out your business cards will not work and is only going to make your  printer happy.
  3. You need to position the referral so your client’s see the connection as a way to help their friends and associates.
  4. You must be willing to pick up the phone and ask the new prospect for a meeting.
  5. You must work your referral program constantly.
  6. You must follow-up with the person who provided the lead and “if appropriate” give them a gift or at least a thank you card for their help.

The Key is Step 3 – Position the Referral. Unfortunately, most sales people ask their clients if they could give them the name of 3 or 4 friends, relatives or associates that they could contact and “name drop” that you are the person who provides the product or service to them. This method is not very successful and won’t do much to build your business.

On the other hand if you position the referral properly you can almost be guaranteed a steady stream of quality referrals. The key is to think about it in terms of ‘what’s in it for them’. If they help someone it will reflect positively on them. The danger on the other hand is what happens if it doesn’t go well. It will hurt their reputation.

Let me give you an example of how it would work for a company that designs website.

Sales Person“(Tom) we re-designed your website and according to your feedback on the objectives you wanted to accomplish we have doubled your traffic, added the social media functions you were looking for and created a site that you could edit simply without the need to call someone every time you wanted to make a change or update.”

  • Would that be a fair assessment?
  • Do you feel we have delivered a quality website within the target budget?
  • Has the new website resulted in an increase in business?

If the client is in agreement with your points then it is time to move to the request for a referral.

Sales Person – “I am happy we have been able to help you grow your business and appreciate your confidence in (your company).  Tom, I am sure you have an associate that has mentioned they need to upgrade their website in order to generate more business. I would be more than happy to approach them and schedule a chat about their current challenges and what opportunities are available to them.”

Regardless of your product or service, you must create a powerful positioning statement before you ask for a referral. You will be amazed at how well this type of request will work and I guarantee if you use it properly you will be generating more, better quality leads for your business.

Do you want to know how to approach the new prospect? We will look at that in part 2.

If you are looking for more ideas on how to generate more leads and convert more prospects into paying customers please visit our resource centre.


Robert J. Weese
B2B Sales Coach & Author



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