3 Ideas to Help you Stop Asking for Referrals & Start Asking for Introductions


Referral. The very word gives people an upset stomach. The thought of putting myself out there & the chance that something could go wrong… “Nope… I can’t think of anyone.”

You’ve all been there. On both sides:

As the consumer: A salesperson asks you for a referral, “Do you know anyone that I should talk to about … ?” You cringe. Sweat beads up on your forehead. “Uh…how do I get out of this one? Nope … wish I did.”

As the salesperson: How about the feeling you get when you are about to ask for a referral? You have the exact same feeling as that poor consumer above. “Ugh… I feel so needy… so greedy… & what if she says no? I HATE the word NO! I can’t stand that rejection. I’ll get out of this one. Um… I just won’t ask.”

And that’s that. Problem solved. You don’t hear the word NO. Because you don’t ask. You can fix that rejection problem very easily – just don’t ask. 

Well, how’s that working out for you?

There are 2 major problems with the scenario above:

  1.   The over-all reputation of the word “referral”
  2. The way the salesperson asks

First off, the reputation of the word referral. When you stop to think about it, a down & dirty definition of the word referral is: a name & number of someone who will buy from me. How selfish is that? It’s brutal. It’s not your fault. Thousands of years of crappy salespeople doing it wrong has screwed it up for you. 

Second. When you ask, “Do you know anyone that I should talk to about … ?” You are asking a closed-ended question that can easily be answered NO. Look at the question. It begs people to say NO. You know people will take the easy way out of things. So, take away that option. 

It’s OK. You’re covered. 3 points of clarification:

1.  The first thing you need to do is embrace an “introduction” mentality as opposed to a referral mentality. You don’t need another name & number of someone who doesn’t want to talk to you about something they don’t want to buy. But you do want to be introduced to people who know what you do & do agree to speak to you. That’s the difference.

Referrals are cold calls with a mutual connection – that’s it. Ever get the feeling the referral you called couldn’t wait to get his hands on the person that referred you? Awkward!

Introductions are much warmer. They are pre-qualified & the person is expecting your call. Is it a guaranteed sale? No. But it’s a hell of a lot more likely to close than an old-fashioned referral.

2.  So, how do you ask? Change it up a bit. Start asking, “Who do you know that I should talk to about…? It’s hard to say NO to that question – it doesn’t fit. Yes, they can say, “Nobody” or “I can’t think of anybody”, but it does not solicit a NO. 

3.  Did you know you are worthy of introductions from all your clients & customers? You are. It’s a mind-set. A mind-set that is easily sabotaged if you get that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach when it comes time to ask. You won’t ask. Who likes that feeling?

Change the mentality to an introduction to someone that needs what I do.

Change the question from Do you know? to Who do you know?

And remember, you are worthy.

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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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