Customer Referrals: What Appliances, Lobster Ravioli, and Referred Customers All Have in Common

Customer Referrals: What Appliances, Lobster Ravioli, and Referred Customers All Have in Common

Earlier this spring, we remodeled our kitchen. As we were wrapping up the project, some friends came over to visit. They took one look at our shiny, new appliances and asked: “Where did you get those?”

Ecstatic that our remodel was turning heads, we were happy to share the information of our appliance provider along with a recommendation to speak with our contact Liz.  

Two months later, my friend, Jim, calls to say, “Thanks for referring us to Liz. She was great, and we love our appliances and the service we got.” Everybody won — Liz did an excellent job for us and got a referral and more business, and Jim saved a lot of time shopping for the right appliance store and ended up with a great experience. The best part? I enjoyed the satisfaction of helping my friend with a good customer referral.

As a customer of products and services, you probably make referrals or suggestions to your friends and family all the time about what they should buy and where they should buy it. “You have to get the lobster ravioli. It’s awesome.” Why? Because you sincerely want them to have a good experience, and selfishly, you also want to take some credit for discovering it.

The same applies to your business customers.

Your business customers also want their colleagues to have a good experience, and getting them to refer you isn’t as hard as it seems. If you don’t ask for referrals as often as you could (or should), it’s probably for a couple of good reasons. 

Reason #1: You don’t feel good about asking. 


Reason #2: You don’t want to bother the client or company they might refer you to. 

But here’s the thing: When clients are looking to close out their week, month, or year, successfully, your solution might help them, and a timely referral could come in to save the day. The critical thing to remember is to make the ask in an Other-Centered® way

First, set up a business review or status update conversation and be prepared to thank them, review your relationship from last year, and ask how you can help improve this year. Then, follow these critical steps during and after the meeting to ensure the referral request enhances your existing relationship:

During the meeting: Focus on benefits.

During the business review or project recap, drive the conversation that encourages your customer to share the benefits they’ve realized by working with you. This will be the bridge for you to ask who else they think would potentially value the same benefits in their business. 

You: “Did you find working with us beneficial? Why? Who else can you think of that might also find it beneficial?”

Them: [Many glowing recommendations] 

Another tip: You must explain your ideal client to avoid forcing a client to give you a lousy referral that is not worthwhile to pursue. 

By explaining the type of client your products and services have the biggest impact on, you communicate to your customer where the biggest benefit is. The more you describe, the more likely your client is to come up with ideas. Keep in mind, though, you need to make sure that the profile of the customer you’re speaking with fits into your “ideal client” category. If they don’t see themselves as part of the ideal group, then they might be a one-off customer that doesn’t fit with your end goals. 

After the meeting: Keep the referrer informed.

After you’ve gotten feedback from a client, reach back out to your customer or original referrer, and keep them in the loop. Did they contact a prospect? What happened? Why will/won’t you be working with them in the future? You can let them know you haven’t heard back, but you’ll try again soon. Do not ask them for help; they’ll offer if it’s appropriate.

Thank them, sincerely. Send a note. Give a small, personalized gift, or provide an unexpected free service. Later, you can help them out with a referred customer. Or — better yet — you can get the new client to thank your referrer, or even take them all out for lobster ravioli. (It really is awesome.)

Want to talk more about how to get more client referrals from your sales team? We can help. Get in touch to learn how ASLAN® training can guide your reps to fearlessly conquer the challenges — like customer referrals — that they face every day. 

As President of ASLAN, Marc is responsible for all day-to-day operations including our sales and marketing efforts and growing our success in helping our clients be Other-Centered®.

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