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How to Ask for Referrals & Grow your Business


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Referral [ri-fur-uh l] (Noun) A person recommended to someone or for something.

This is one of the best ways to do business IMHO. There is little selling, it’s more of an educational call and that alone builds your brand and shows the referral that you are more concerned about getting them the right answers compared to just closing the deal.

Plan: Every referral program is different, make yours unique and plan accordingly.
Strategize: Create referral map, test Strategy with 5 current clients.
Test: Email, Call, or after a Goal completion or success story.
Audit: What works, stop was doesn’t. Sometimes calls work best, in some instances an email or after a successful event.
Repeat: If you see things start to slow down, reconnect and start the process over again.

Internal Referrals: Contacting your current customers and asking about friends, family or other businesses they know that might need your service. Usually sending an email out after a good month (every month we hope) or a great experience is best. Adding some incentive helps too, Starbucks gift cards, discounts etc. I found that asking for referrals from existing customers can be the easy. They are aware of your products and services or should be and they have friends and colleagues that they talk with often.

Success story: A client referred three businesses in the last 90 days; all of them said the same thing, when I asked about the referring source. (We asked him how he was doing so well with business and he said it’s my marketing guy!) Let’s just say we are currently working with all three. (Homerun)

External Referrals: This is one that agencies can really grow with. Aligning your referral plan with other businesses that to deal with your demographics, can quickly fill your pipeline. For example web design companies that don’t offer marketing services, or if you are good at some specific verticals take it to the next level.

Success story: Currently auditing 1-3 opportunities a week from one of our local web design companies. We have stopped taking on these types of referral sources as they will keep you busy and we have 3 that do just that. Just make sure you are clear about what you offer and give each source 100% guarantee on your work and follow through. In most cases we turn down the requests, it has shown the referring sources that we are more interested in being honest and only taking on opportunities that are realistic and executable. No packages, no yes men, just ROI. We are currently working on a dozen projects for this company and started paying them a commission from all the new business they have brought to our table. Every time they cash a check we get 3 new calls.

Tips: Educate your sources on what services you offer create a script to incorporate into your pitch, and be direct about your effort. Creating positive experiences helps too as it feeds into Testimonials & Online Reviews, which work behind the scenes.

Never stop asking for referrals: Don’t Sell’em, Educat’em -- Then welcome them to your pipeline.  

Good Read: The Art of The Ask (PDF) will give you more ides for your plan.

Have any other ideas on what works and what doesn't or even success stories? Please share below! 

Bonus: While typing this out, I received a call from a company I spoke to 2 months ago, they were referred to me from one of my clients, they have their budget ready and want to get started on the SOW today, an example of how things come full circle. 

about Spencer Wade

I'm Spencer Wade - strategist, designer, manager of people and ideas. Platinum Top Contributor for Google Search, G+ & AdWords - TC Mentor too. I’m the founder of Lift Conversions, a Google Partner agency, located in Chicago. I’ve completed Google’s tests - Search, Display, Video, Analytics, & Mobile, and enjoy being a part of the forums. My agency is also an Official City Partner in the Get Your Business Online effort with Instant Verifier access to help immediately verify business listings.

Benoit Badged Google Partner
June 2016

Great post @Spencer_Wade! Thank you for sharing! Smiley Very Happy

June 2016

Great Post.  I enjoyed it very much.  Useful advice.  

Arc G
July 2016
Info J
July 2016 - last edited August 2016 Spencer_Wade Top Contributor

This is a very helpful post for me. Thanks a lot. I have read it properly.

smita t
August 2016




Badly needed this .. was lost on how to build up from existing clients. Thanks a lot. 

Spencer_Wade Top Contributor
August 2016

Glad you found it useful @smita t, you are very welcome. 

dare o
October 2016

in my own humble opinion,i think the best way to get started with as a web designer is to draw a good business plan and action plan.Web design can be a luctrative venture if one take it as you would take a normal business.The problem with most web designers out there is that they take wed design as a hubby rather than a business.you should differential between the two if u must succeed as a web designer.

Also,having a good Anchor tag:<a href="http://aea02ih4gnqmbp4mykpkhqauau.hop.clickbank.net/" target="_top">Web design business</a>
tool kit would help you get off from the ground easily.