Best practices for referral selling

Best practices for referral selling

There are a wide variety of sales strategies that have made their appearance over the years, but none of them are as effective as referral selling. Taking your time to research your prospective clients allows you to understand their needs. It is useless if you don’t attempt to suitably use that knowledge in some way. So, how can sales teams use the power of referral selling to their advantage?

Referral selling is a common strategy used by a business to persuade a customer to purchase goods or services by promising benefits if they assist the company supply products or services to other people they know. It’s a win-win situation in which both parties managed to get something out of the deal. The company gets its brand spread even further for free, and the customer gains social recognition for recommending something exceptional and their acquaintances from a trusted source. 

Unfortunately, there are times when some of these customers may forget to tell their friends and family about the product. It does not help that salespeople tend to use outdated methods that do not keep up with the rapidly changing market. Sometimes the referral strategies they use can be a hit or miss. However, referral selling has proven to significantly improve an organization's sales performance. To succeed at this, your sales team needs to know the best practices for referral selling. 

Identify the customer

Whenever your sales team is sending out a proposal to a prospective customer, they should already know that the individual would make an excellent partner. When it comes to referral selling, sales teams must have a deep understanding of their clients. That knowledge they have over the customer allows them to make better decisions as to whether or not a customer is a correct fit for your organization. Taking on a client that isn’t fit for your organization can be a time-waster for not only your team but the client as well. 

That leads to potential customer dissatisfaction that could impact your organization in unexpected ways. Moreover, the time and effort spent on that client may detract from other customers and lead to their discontent. Referral sales will ultimately fail if the customers are dissatisfied with the service they are being provided by the organization. 

Understand the customer

A deep understanding of your customers is critical for offering them exactly what they want from you. That not only applies while they are your customers but before and after they become your customer. That increases the chances of them being more likely to become partners with you (along with offering referrals). They will remember that your organization always went above and beyond for them. Here are some questions you should consider asking: 

Shorten the answers into a bullet point and share them with them. Explain to the customer that this is what the situation looks like based on the conversation you had. Use the answers they provided to steer them to the correct path. Do what needs to be done to get them on board. The sales rep needs to listen carefully if they misheard something and if the customer points out their mistakes. Use that information to put the pieces together with the assistance of the client. 

Ask them for referrals

When a sales rep manages to gain a qualified referral, they arrive presold, have a source of trust and credibility, which shortens the sales process allowing them to acquire a new customer a good percentage of the time. There aren’t any other sales strategies that grant you results such as these, which is why your sales team needs to practice their referral selling skills. 

Existing customers are some of the best sources an organization can have to improve their sales, but they need to reach out to them. Vert few consider the idea of referring to a company by themselves. After all, they are focused on dealing with their own set of issues. That is why your sales team needs to reach out to them to make it happen. If they wait around too long, there is a higher chance that nothing will happen. The best salespeople around don’t sit around and wait for something to happen. 

Unfortunately, most sales teams tend to be uncomfortable and afraid of asking their customers for an introduction. Plenty of salespeople freak out over the idea of starting a conversation with their customers and asking them to refer to their business. The only way your sales team can overcome their fear is by asking anyway. Consider this, they have nothing to lose by merely asking for a referral, but they will never know how much a company is losing out on by not asking them at all. 

If possible, have your sales team practice in a safe environment before talking to potential customers to refer to the business. That way, they can feel prepared when they are dealing with one of their customers. Get the team to practice with each other and help improve each other's techniques. Partnering them up with someone on the sales team will help them keep track of each other's progress and provide authentic feedback. 

Giving out referral 

To receive something, you need to give something in return. Connecting with people not only makes you feel good but also makes you look like a credible source. While asking for referrals can help boost your organization, doing just the same in return will heighten the value you provide them. It allows your customers to know that you have a massive network of referral sources and prospects. That makes them realize that you are an excellent source of information that can benefit them in so many ways. When a prospect reaches out to you for a referral, instead of turning them down, suggest them and offer a complimentary message. 

Your sales team should actively seek out opportunities to give referrals as often as possible. The sales team could refer resources to your customer, refer your client to their prospects, or refer other salespeople who are not considered competitors. 

Be specific with your introduction

One of the most significant mistakes a sales rep can make is not being clear about what type of people they want to reach out to when asking for referrals. There are plenty of times when a salesperson will ask their customers who the clients know may be interested in their products or services. Or they might ask them if they know anyone who is decent fir for their offering. That’s not a good thing to do since it places all of the burdens on the customer assisting you. Instead, the salesperson should specify what their ideal introduction may look like. 

When your sales team is asking their customers to introduce them to other interested parties, have them offer examples about the type of prospects they are interested in connecting with. Take the time to share information about several key points, such as their job titles, the organization they work for, the industry they are involved in, and any other critical factors that your company looks for when reaching out to your prospects. Once that’s done, let them think about who they know in their network that fits these criteria.

Develop relationships with the customer

Remember, it is the customers who are doing the referring, not the business itself. That is why it's crucial to nurture a relationship with your customers. If your sales team is constantly dealing with your customers one-on-one, they must continue to build these relationships. They need to ensure they are paying attention to what the customer is saying and make them feel at ease. 

Even if your organization is on the larger side and limits the interaction a salesperson has with their customers, they can still develop relationships with the customers through several marketing initiatives. For instance, they can send out personalized emails that highlight a customer's particular interest, reminding them that your organization is aware of them and cares for who they are. Consider being transparent throughout this process, let them know what is going on behind the scenes, and help customers get an idea of what kind of organization they are interacting with. 

Set a goal for an introduction for each day

This may come off as a bit of a challenge for your sales team, but how long do you think it takes them to ask for an introduction? Your sales team should ask in no less than 20 minutes, so they need to ensure that a specific amount of time is critical to them each time they speak to a prospective customer. 

When they have a goal for asking at least one referral per workday, they will ask their customer at least five times each passing week. That means that they will be making around 250 referrals per year if successful. That will have quite a significant impact on your sales, especially if you consider how many ideal customers you could connect from those introductions requests you make every year. 

After closing a referral

When your salesperson manages to sign a person up who was referred to your organization, they should ask the person responsible for giving them the referral. Make sure that your salesperson makes it clear that they are asking for the individual who referred them. That way, the customer is aware of who referred them. For example, the person who referred them could have been Ricky from Example Inc, who referred them. 

Once they remember who referred them to you, ask them if they can do you a favor. Ask if they can send a message to Ricky thanking them for the connection that happened between the both of you. That way, Rickly will know that he is being appreciated for going out of his way to help your organization. The moment they send Ricky a thank you email, your sales team is closing the feedback loop, which will encourage Ricky to continue making those referrals. When Ricky sees that email, he will be pleased with himself and consider who else they can recommend your organization. 

Every sales team out there wants to establish a successful relationship and help others find something they will find helpful. If you manage your referral sales as its own product that gets the same attention from your sales team, your organization shall witness an increase in high-quality leads. 

Follow through with customers

If there is one thing your sales team should always be doing is following up with their customers. Have them send their customers a follow-up email to remind them of your organization's existence but maintain that connection. Following up is overall critical to your prospective efforts. Customers will forget about your business if they have not heard from you in a while, especially since they have their own concerns to handle. Everyone wants to have a conversation, and providing a personal touch to these follow-ups has become more valuable right now, where everything is done virtually. It does make a significant difference when a sales representative initiates a follow-up through a Zoom call and attempts to remain in touch with the customer. 

When your sales team takes the time to follow up, they are learning more about how they can assist their customers and prospects. Offer them as many resources as you possibly can to help them with their problem. To improve your outreach, come up with marketing campaigns that provide your customers with relevant information frequently. For example, you could send out a monthly newsletter filled with valuable information. That’s usually a great way to remind them of your existence. Some of them may even reply with small thank you messages for the beneficial information. 


Referral selling can have a significant impact on growing your business. If you manage to implement it well and use effective methods, your organization will see the growth that will leave the competition envious. If you want to ensure that your sales team can capitalize on sales referrals, make sure to get our extension With the help of this tool, your sales team will have all the information they need about their clients and close their deals like a seasoned pro.