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Getting referrals from the users of your products and/or services is one of the quickest, most effective and painless ways to build your business. Yet, most businesses fail to take advantage of this important marketing and business-building tool.

In fact, not only do they not have a referral system in place, it’s surprising how many don’t even realize how powerful such a system can be.

Referrals are simply happy or satisfied customers telling others about their positive experience with you, or them giving you permission to contact another person in their name.

Every business should have a system in place for getting referrals

For some business owners or salespeople, asking another person for the name of a friend, relative or other business associate to contact so they can offer their services is very uncomfortable.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Especially, if you have a system in place to do it. A very simple 4-step system for getting referrals from your customers is:

  1. Earn the right to referrals by providing exceptional service
  2. Ask for referrals from your satisfied customers
  3. Reward (or thank in some way) those who give you referrals
  4. Next


One of the best ways to get referrals is to offer great service… to make your customer or client feel as though he or she is the only customer you have. But offering “good” service… even “exceptional” service may not be enough. People are used to getting a certain level of service from the businesses they deal with on a daily basis. Some of that service is good, and other service they receive is lacking.

If you want to stand out, you must go beyond… way beyond the normal service they expect from, not only similar businesses to yours, but from any other business they’ve ever dealt with.

The time is past when people compare service from a business in one type of industry or profession to another business in the same industry or profession.

Anymore, they compare the service they get across the board from all industries or professions. They’ll compare the service they got at the car dealership when they took their car in for servicing, with how they were treated by the receptionist who greeted them when they went to their health club, to the way their insurance company handled their last request for information.

The bottom line is, you’re competing in a completely different world than you were just a few years ago. And to be competitive, you’ve got to move your customer service levels up to the highest standards possible.

You’ve got to go way beyond anything you, or anyone else in your industry or profession has ever done before. When your customer is so completely blown away with your service and attention, they’ll become raving fans, they’ll want to do business with you again, and they’ll feel almost obligated to tell others about their experience with you.

Once you can see that you’ve not only met their expectations, but you’ve exceeded them and they are happy with the service or performance you’ve given them, you are in a position to go to the next step.

Here’s where referrals come to the rescue. When a prospect is referred to you by a satisfied customer, the trust and believability your customer has, is transferred (at least in part) to the prospect, and your job of developing that trust is made much easier.


One way is to simply ask them who might be candidates for your services. Now, I know you might feel this step can cause tension in a newly created, positive experience, and undermine the relationship, but if you have a systematic method of asking, and your customer is excited with what you’ve done for them, it can be as natural as getting up in the morning.


Once you receive a referral, make sure to express your thanks by giving some type of reward to the referrer. A simple thank-you is often enough. But many businesses or salespeople take advantage of small gift items such as movie tickets, a gift card for lunch or a bottle of wine.

Discounts or free merchandise or services from your own business sometimes can be a good choice.

Whatever the reward, it doesn’t have to be grand or costly, it just must be sincere and timely, and show that you really appreciate the confidence your customer or client has shown in you, and their gift of a name of a person you can contact.


Once you’ve earned the right to ask for referrals from your customers or clients, then have asked them and followed up with a reward for their help, you’re in a perfect position to ask for more help from them.

Whatever you do, don’t think that just because you asked and received one or two names, that it’s over. If you treat your customers right, knock them out with great service, then reward them for their help, they’ll be more than anxious to refer more of their friends, neighbors or acquaintances.

After all, if were in your client’s shoes, and you’ve gotten great service from someone you’ve done business with, you’d like people you know to receive the same service, wouldn’t you? Especially, if you’ve been thanked or in some way shown that your help was appreciated.

Competition is fierce in the marketplace today, and there is often little difference between competing products, services and prices.

Getting referrals from your clients can no longer be considered a luxury or a “nice thing to do.”

If you’re going to enjoy maximum success from your business with a minimum amount of time and effort, getting referrals is simply a “must-do” activity.

And the best way to do that is by having a well-defined pro-active, referral-generating system in place. This can make this important marketing tool not only effective, productive and painless… but fun!

This article is one is a series of The 20 Most Common Marketing Mistakes.