Getting A Boatload Of Referrals

Everyone would LOVE to build up a substantial referral business. The leads close faster and easier and lower your selling cost. But the fact is, very few companies have been able to do so. And even those that do get referrals get most of them reactively… by chance.

So how can you generate referrals? Is it even possible? Absolutely, IF you know how to do it. Here are some tips.


Conventional wisdom says to ask for referrals when you make the sale. That’s not horrible advice, but don’t get your hopes up too high, either. Why not? Because chances are good that your (new) customer honestly doesn’t know anyone else right now who needs what you sell. At least not right at that moment. Think about it. Do you keep a mental inventory of what all of your friends may or may not want or need? Let’s say you switch to a new swimming pool service company, and the salesman asks you if you know anyone else who might want to switch. How could you possibly even know that? Likewise, your customers probably have no idea which of their friends would be excited to purchase a new water softener, giant subwoofer, lizard skin attaché case, or (insert your product here) either.


I’ve seen reward-for-referral programs that work, but more frequently they overwhelm your customers, frustrate your salespeople, and ultimately end up gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. If you insist on a reward program, keep it really, really simple. Like: “Give us 10 names right now and we’ll give you a $50 Outback Steakhouse gift card right now.” That way nobody has to remember to do anything later. Because we all know that stuff that’s going to get done later never actually gets done. Plus the reward is a lot more tempting when they can get it RIGHT NOW.


Here’s how referrals REALLY happen: Your customer is sitting at dinner with their friend who, during the course of ROUTINE conversation, mentions something about how they were having a pool party, but the pool guy didn’t show up that week, and so they tried to treat it themselves, and all the kids ended up with red eyes because the chlorine was out of whack. Your customer can now either refer their friend to you… or they can NOT refer their friend to you. The key here is to make sure that you are putting your name in front of their face frequently enough so that they remember who you are when this situation comes up. Think they won’t forget you? Don’t kid yourself. With 9,433 things going on in their lives, you and your great pool service guy are low on their list. My advice: send monthly postcards with specials, testimonials, or straight-up referral requests.

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