How To Earn Customer Referrals

By Geoffrey James

Don’t ask for referrals right after you close a sale, advises Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the business bestseller The Sales Bible. Referrals come when customers trust you to deliver topnotch products and services. When you’ve just closed a sale it’s time to concentrate on proving to the customer that you can deliver.

Use the post-closing conversation, says Gitomer, to describe the actions you will take to earn the customer’s trust and, ultimately, those valued referrals.

1. Find ways to meet customers socially. Attend business networking events and other nonsales-related activities.

2. Provide incredible service. Customers value the relationships they have with their business peers, so following through on what you say you’ll do increases their comfort level about recommending you to others.

3. Anticipate customers’ needs. Be proactive. Arrange to provide the services your customers require before they ask.

4. Provide extra value. Find something you can do for your customers in addition to the expected products and services.

5. Give referrals to your customers. Create a sense of gratitude by offering your customers referrals that will help them build their own business.

If customers seem satisfied after you’ve provided the expected products and services, inquire about your performance to assess whether the customer is truly happy and whether or not you have earned the customer’s trust. Then ask what it would it take for them to refer their business associates to you.

There are three types of customer referrals, each of which has value.

1. Solicited referrals. You request a referral from an existing customer. (Good)

2. Proactive referrals. Without asking, customers call and give you the name of a potential customer. (Better)

3. Unsolicited referrals. A new prospect calls you on the advice of one of your customers. (Best)

If you’ve done a superlative job, you might receive unsolicited or proactive referrals. If you’re reasonably certain you’ve earned customers’ trust, ask them if you can share their opinions and perceptions about your products and services with your prospective customers – and if they have individuals they think you should contact.