I’m sure you’ve often asked yourself “How can I generate higher quality leads, leads that are more likely to turn into business?”

If you have, you may want to think about the way you use referrals – there’s strong evidence that these are the most productive leads for salespeople. One study showed that for B2B sales, referral leads were more than twice as likely to convert into business than leads from the website, and more than six times as likely as those from trade shows or webinars.

However, many sales professionals are either blissfully unaware of the power of referred business and rely on lower converting leads, or they are executing their approach poorly. (so here is your nudge).

These 8 tips will help improve the quantity but also find the quality within that quantity.

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1. Manage your Self-Talk

Managing destructive self-talk will remove internal belief barriers, improve your actions when asking for referrals and ultimately improve your level of success. Too often we defeat ourselves by thinking

 “I’m embarrassed to keep pushing someone for referrals, especially since they’ve already given us business”.

Much better to say to ourselves

“I’m happy to ask the client for advice, and by acknowledging their introductions I’ll be helping them reinforce their own professional credibility as well as building out my pipeline of opportunities”.


2. Ask for Advice and not for a Referral

The word referral can get misunderstood, particularly it can be confused with asking for a job reference. Simply asking for advice rather than a referral will help with your request. Furthermore, providing a reason for why you are asking will also increase the likelihood of the referrer providing you beneficial contacts by as much as 50%.


3. Make the Request Specific

Rather than saying

“Do you know anyone you can refer me to?”


“Do you have any connections from previous companies, ex-colleagues, family or friends that work in [insert specific industry] that might find it valuable having a conversation with me?”.


4. Pick Your Time to Ask

Don’t leave it until the end of a project to ask for a referral. The right moment is when you are having positive interactions with your client, when there are specific success measurements that have been highlighted or when your client has praised you for doing a good job. Sometimes this can be quite early in the project, while the client is still excited about the value that your solution is bringing them.


5. Be Politely Persistent

You are going to hear “Not that I can think of” and “Let me give that some thought and get back to you” at least half the time. If you leave it there, the trail will go cold. By asking early in the project cycle you give yourself the opportunity to be politely persistent and return to the referral question. Be ready to hear “No” and set yourself the goal of asking at least twice.


6. Ask for More!

Humans are built to respond to a question with one response. Asking “Anyone else?” will encourage the referrer to review their contact list in their head and think of more.


7. Make it Easy for the Referrer

Although someone might say they can introduce you to XYZ, typically the way the this is executed will have huge impact of the effectiveness of the referral. Provide the referrer an email template: this makes it easier for them, makes them more likely to do it and will improve the quality of the introduction and increase the likelihood of a response.


8. Incorporate Referrals into your Sales Methodology

If you use a structured sales methodology or Sales Playbook, take some time to add in tools and templates that focus on referrals. Write some scripts, video some role plays, add it to your standard project management agenda, create some e-mail templates.

Utilising these tips will help you on your way to finding the next diamond? It could be right under your feet!


Jonathan Adams, Senior Consultant (jadams@sbrconsulting.com)


To talk to us more on how you can improve the quality of your leads, please get in touch by emailing info@sbrconsulting.com or call us on +44 (0) 207 653 3740.

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