Partners in Performance Blog

Referral Tips: How to Ask a Client for a Great Lead

Generate-LeadsThis is the third post in a series on referral marketing. In our first post, 3 Reasons You’re Not Using Referral Marketing for New Leads, we explored how our mindset gets in our own way. We then focused on when to ask a client for a referral and the importance of specificity.  In this post we’ll look at how to ask a client for a referral, so that it actually turns into a great sales lead.

Early in my career, I used to marvel at ‘Susie’ who was consistently the top sales producer year over year. Every time she was asked about the secret to her success she would answer in the same way.

“All you have to do is ask…ask for the business, and then ask for a referral.”

Although the simplicity of Susie’s success has stuck with me all these years I realize it’s easier said than done. Knowing what to do and how to do it are two different things.

How you ask depends on the context in which you are asking and your own personal style. Make your request in a clear, conversational tone that reflects who you are.  Your referral request should be clear on:

  • Who you want to be referred to
  • How you want to be referred
  • Your specific call to action

Your clear statement of who you are looking for as clients should consider these elements:

If you don’t have a specific person in mind:

“I am delighted that you are happy with our work. I would really appreciate it if you would introduce me to people you know who might be interested in (or who might want to explore, who might benefit from learning about) _____________ (what you do).  I have a solid track record with leaders who are _______________in the __________________industry. Who comes to mind?”

Don’t jump in to fill the silence. It’s important to NOT crowd their thinking space and let them think. Zip it! Be silent. Let them answer.

If you have a specific person in mind:

When you know the person you can be very straight forward. “Hi Bill, I see from LinkedIn that you know_____________. Can you make an introduction for me?  She is the ideal person for me to work with because________________.”

Help your client make an introduction for you:

  • Do you want to contact the prospective client directly with permission to use your referring client’s name?
  • Do you want an introduction where your client sends an email to the prospective client and introduces you? (It doesn’t get any better than this).
  • Make it clear what you’d like your client to say and this will ensure you are positioned properly. Confirm that they are comfortable with your suggestion.
  • Or you can suggest that you write up the email to make it easier for them and they can edit it to suit their own style.

Here is an example of an email that I drafted for my client to send to their client:

Hi John,

I have been thinking about you for some time. I want to introduce you to someone who I believe would be worthwhile for you to meet. She has done great work in the financial services industry including at Acme Financial for the past 6 years. And she is doing great work with us at ABC Company.

Tanja Parsley (Partners in Performance) helps sales professionals increase their sales and shorten their selling cycles. I can vouch for her expertise first hand as we have been working with her since the fall. The impact she has made has been significant. She has brought us a wealth of sales process skills and practical tools and templates.  

Her ability to shift our thinking and energy is what is most remarkable.

I encourage you to meet with her and explore how she might be of benefit to you and your team.

Are you open to a conversation with Tanja? I can have her call you directly or would you like to chat with me first?

Best regards, 


Of course this is just an example, but it can be turned into a template for your own use. Remember, the more specific you can be, and the more easily you make the referral process for your clients, the more likely they are to agree to it.

Can you see yourself using the ideas and examples in this post? Leave me a comment below.  I would love to hear!

This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on March 18, 2014 in Intentional Selling™, Referral Marketing, Sales Skills, Sales Tools. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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