How to Ask for (And Get) Referrals
Here’s today’s scenario: you found the perfect client, you agreed on the terms for a project, you did the work, you got paid. All done, right?
Nope, my friend. You’re forgetting an important step.
And that’s getting a referral.
You worked hard, right? You did what your client asked, the client was happy, right? Then what’s stopping you from asking your client to share that experience with others?
Are you just too afraid to ask? Hey, not judging. If that’s what’s holding you back, then let’s tackle that.
But first, let’s talk about what a referral is and why it’s so important to your business. Let’s get started.
What’s a referral?
Simply put, a referral is when someone recommends your services to another. For example, you did virtual assistant work for a client and you knocked it out of the park. Your client has a friend who is looking for a virtual assistant and because you did such a bang up, they have no problem with sharing the fantastic experience they had with you and they recommend your services. And because the friend truly values your client’s recommendation, they get in touch with you.
That’s how a referral works.
Why is a referral so important to my business?
Let’s use the example above. Read over it again and then answer this question:
Did you have to pursue the client’s friends to sell your services?
That’s the beauty of a referral: just be the fantastic virtual assistant you are and you can build a profitable business with little hustling on your part. Sweet, right?
Think about it: would you rather market your services endlessly online in Facebook groups or passing out business cards at awkward networking events:
Or sit back and let your hard work speak for itself?
What is the true secret for getting referrals?
If you said ASKING, you get a gold star.
So you’ve made sure to put the work in, your clients absolutely love you. But your client list is still looking a little ugly.
If that’s the case, there is likely one thing at the root of the problem.
You simply haven’t asked for a referral.
Think about that for just a second.
When is the last time you actually said to a current or past client, “Do you know anyone who would benefit from my services? Could you give me a referral?”
Chances are you’ve never said it. It’s the kind of thing we don’t naturally think about doing, or if we do think about it, it makes us more than a little uncomfortable.
And if you’re saying to yourself, “I do ask! It’s on the bottom of every invoice/in my email autoresponder/on my business card!” Stop right there. That's simply not enough. Chances are they aren't even reading it.
What we’re talking about here is not an added line in an email or filler on a business card. We’re talking about true human interaction, and when you get this right, you’ll have more clients than you can count.
Make these steps part of your routine and you’ll start seeing regular referrals.
But before you get out there and start asking for referrals, you’ll need to know what to say.
Question for you: does the thought of selling something make you squirm?
Yeah, me too. But this is what I discovered: when I was prepared and knew what I was going to say, asking for referrals was so much easier.
When you know exactly what you’re going to say, and you’ve practiced it multiple times, it will sound more natural and engaging, and it will get you better results.
Your script doesn’t have to be sales-y or weird sounding. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It should quite simply be you—just more confident.
It also should not be too long. More than a minute and you’ll start to sound desperate, and desperation drives people away.
Rules for asking for a referral:
Ask on the phone, if you can. You should have a way of contacting your client outside of email. Make sure to get details like this in your welcome packet. Once you complete a project, give your now-former client a ring and ask for the referral. And if you have no idea of what to say and you don’t want to sound like a complete butthead when you call, make sure to download my swipe file that includes a referral script. Just scroll to the bottom of this post.
Ask more than once. Listen, people get busy, yeah? Don’t take it personally. If you’ve touched base by phone and it’s been awhile, feel free to circle back by email. Gently remind them you’re still on the hunt for new clients. Offer a referral fee - say 20% of the invoice - as an incentive.
Never ask for a referral when you’re asking for a payment. Asking for a referral and a payment at the same time is just tacky. Don’t do it. Just sayin’.
What are some things you should be doing if you already have clients?
If you’re in a position of currently having clients, treat your clients like the VIPs they are. What does that look like?
These are all things I’ve done for my clients and although these are small gestures, they mean a lot to clients.
Send a handwritten note or call them on their birthday. Again, this is information you probably already have from the welcome packet. I know I love getting random handwritten notes because I know it takes a bit more effort to write than a text.
Offer them a discount on a service. Okay, don't you feel special when you score a deal? I know I do! Give your client a break on an invoice, better yet, surprise them. Baby, they'll love you for it!
Share opportunities you find. I hang out in Facebook groups and when I notice an opportunity that may be a good fit for a client, I either tag them on the post or send the client a link to the post or take a screenshot. I’ve actually done that for a client and she was able to sign a high-fashion client for her social media agency. When you look out for your clients, they remember those gestures and will keep you in mind for referrals.
Have you tried everything to grow your existing business but nothing is working?
Are you tired of piecing together various resources into a so-called strategy and not seeing results?
Head on over and download my swipe file. You’ll get a copy of the exact proposal I use to send to potential clients AND my referral script that you can use to ask clients for referrals.
And make sure to check out more free resources to help you launch and grow your business. Best wishes to you!