If you want to find more ideal clients, you should perfect the art of asking for referrals. Referrals are valuable! Not only will get additional visibility, it’s the most affordable way to market your business. In many cases, referrals are more effective than Facebook ads ($), hosting your own workshops ($), and attending conferences ($).
What often bothers purpose-driven entrepreneurs about asking for referrals is the “asking” part. What is the right way to ask? How can you ask without feeling icky? How should you reciprocate?
Let’s be real: Often purpose-driven entrepreneurs don’t like to ask for things. We don’t like to ask for referrals, or help, or sales. And why do businesses fail? Because we don’t ask for what we need.
We need to implement a mindset shift, starting now! And the perfect place to begin is with asking for referrals.
What is the right way to ask for a referral
I get this question a lot, and what I think purpose-driven entrepreneurs really mean is this: How do I ask someone for a referral in a non-obligatory, totally reciprocal way?
Here’s what you need to remember: People are naturally wired to help others. That’s why people stop and help others during car accidents. You don’t need to feel like you are putting your referral source out by asking for a referral. Referral sources want to help you, but first, they must know you need help.
Start by making a list of people who could refer ideal clients to you. Then draft a letter with the following details:
- Explain you are looking for clients
- Detail exactly who your ideal clients are (don’t skip this step!)
- Ask him to contact you if he knows anyone who fits your ideal client persona
- Specify how he can get this information to you (such as including your phone number or email address)
Stay in constant touch with your referral source
Once you mail this letter, your next job is to follow up with each recipient. A phone call works best here, but you could also consider a text message, Facebook message, email or in-person meeting (such as inviting that person out for coffee).
Ask the referral source if he got your letter and if he had any questions.
If your referral source is also an entrepreneur, ask him who his ideal client is, so that you can keep an eye out for him too. This is the reciprocal part.
Once you made the initial follow-up call, plan to continuously stay in touch with this person. You don’t want to bombard him, of course, but a quarterly email or phone call will do a lot to keep you “top of mind.” Put these follow-up calls on your calendar so you don’t forget.
Make sure to thank your referral sources
I am personally turned off when someone doesn’t thank me for a referral – to the point where I won’t refer to that person again. I am not the only one who feels that way!
Don’t lose a good referral source. Spoil that person rotten! Send a thank you note and/or gift every time he refers someone to you. I guarantee you’ll get even more referrals that way.
Getting more clients relies on you increasing your visibility. And getting referrals is a way to increase your visibility – at little to no cost. Don’t brush aside this marketing strategy. If you implement your referral marketing strategy correctly, it could be the top way you get clients.
Jill Celeste, MA is a bestselling author, marketing teacher and founder of the Celestial Marketing Academy. Jill teaches purpose-driven entrepreneurs everything they need to know about marketing so they can become the Directors of Marketing for their businesses.
Jill is the author of the Amazon Top 25 Bestselling Marketing Book, That First Client, as well as the co-author of the bestseller, Cultivating Joy, and international bestseller, Gratitude and Grace.
Jill graduated with a B.A. in English from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. She obtained her master’s degree in history from the State University of Georgia in Carrollton. Prior to becoming a marketing coach, Jill worked for 14 years in the private sector, and has experience in marketing and public relations in healthcare, IT and small business.
Jill lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, two sons, two guinea pigs and a basset hound named Emma.