Asking for Referrals

Sometimes it’s difficult to ask for referrals, whether as the sales person you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t like putting the pressure on to get referrals, maybe you haven’t worked with the person long enough to establish the relationship of being “referable”, or the customer/client may blow you off telling you “if I know of anyone, I’ll let them know about you”. Either way, you walk out without any names.

One of the best and easiest prospecting ideas is the opposite of the referral or the reverse referral. When you want to solicit similiar businesses, for example, hardware stores or computer stores in the same vicinity of the customer you already have, this tip will apply.

Rip out the yellow pages for the type of business that you want to solicit in the same vicinity of your customer. If you are in a hardware store, show the hardware store yellow pages to your customer, which most likely would be the owner if this instance, and ask him which hardware store owners that you shouldn’t call on, either because they’re not as nice as you are. they’re difficult to work with, they have no money, they’re not progressive thinkers enough to expand their business, whatever the reason.

Give him a big black magic marker and ask him to cross off the names of the businesses that you shouldn’t call on. As he’s crossing off names, ask him to mark the names of the people you don’t know. Now there should be only a few unmarked names left. Discuss these remaining names with him and ask questions about the people’s personality, etc. At the end of your fact finding, ask your customer if you could use their name as you call on the remainging list. For the most hesitant referral, this normally works. Especially if you use the magic words, “I’d like to ask you for your help”


Slick..He might even volunteer to give you the names in the early steps.

Bill Marks

Steve, Great insight!
This approach would also work with the residential neighbors of a client/prospect. Using or similiar internet lookup tool, find and print a list of neighbors in close proximity to your client/prospect. Use this list in a simliar manner as you have indicated.

Thanks for the heads-up.

To your continued success in selling and in life.


Steve Clark


You make a great point. Thanks for the comment.


Marco Campos


These is a very helpful information. Whether you have a good relation or not with clients or whether they had the experience to get your service / product before or not.
However, what to do in Telemarketing? what to do if I’m in Cancun, Mexico and my clients are mainly in New York, and other places in USA and some others in Europe?


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