Did you know as many as 92% of people say they trust recommendations from friends and family more than traditional advertisements? Getting your existing clients to recommend your business can bring in good quality leads for new customers and sustainably grow your business. 

But how can you ask for referrals from existing clients without seeming pushy or desperate? Find out what to keep in mind and how to strike the right balance when asking for referrals in this article, including:

  • How to get referrals without even asking
  • Set up a referral program with rewards
  • Retain existing customers to get more referrals
  • The best time to ask for referrals
  • How to ask for referrals directly
  • Understand your referral growth better with Countingup

How to get referrals from clients without even asking

Let the quality of your work speak for itself! If your product or service is fantastic and you make a good impression, chances are your client will recommend you to their friends and family without you having to ask at all. Have a look here for more details about what customers want from your product or service.

People are a lot more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend rather than an advertisement. So make sure you take advantage of this by getting your customers to rave about you even when you’re not around. Learn more about referral marketing in our article Word of mouth marketing and how it can work.

At the same time, don’t underestimate the value of customer service. Your products might be top-notch, but if your customer service leaves a lot to be desired, your clients will probably not recommend you. 

Bad news travels fast: clients who had a bad experience tend to share their negative experiences with more people than clients who had a good experience. Find out how to develop your customer service here and make sure you always deliver a great experience.

Set up a referral program with rewards

Offering rewards can be an excellent way to convince clients to recommend you to other people. The type of referral program that suits you depends on many factors, including your business type. 

In general, you have the following options for referral rewards:

  • One-way incentive to the person who learns about your business
  • One-way incentive to the customer who shares their experience about your business
  • Two-way incentives, helping both people out

You should factor the cost of free products or any rewards that you offer into your pricing to ensure that a particular type of referral program is sustainable for your business.

In particular, if you offer an incentive for an existing customer to share their experience, even small steps like referral links on social media can help. Even if you don’t immediately get many new clients, getting people to share your brand on social media increases your visibility.

Additionally, make sure your reward programme seems genuine. While referral incentives for previous customers may bring new ones, the referral may not seem genuine if friends know they’re getting paid or receiving a reward just for recommending you.

Retain customers to get more referrals

Even though getting new customers is crucial to your business, don’t neglect your existing ones. Long term business relationships are essential when it comes to getting referrals. The happier your customers are, the longer they stay with you. Likewise, the longer they stay with you, the more people they can tell about you.

Not only do repeat customers spend more, but loyal customers are also more likely to recommend you to others. It’s also 5-25% cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. 

The best time to ask for referrals

If you’ve done all the groundwork to set up a referral programme but need to get the ball rolling, it’s worth noting that directly asking customers takes a delicate approach. 

There are a few simple steps to follow when it comes to timing your referral request:

  • Ask when your clients are happy
  • Ask before you finish the job
  • Ask after you’ve shown your value

The best time to ask your client for referrals is after you’ve demonstrated your value but before you finish the job and you’ve said your goodbyes. 

If your customers send you some feedback during the project, thank them for the input and remind them that anyone else like them could use your services to send them your way.

Pay attention to when your client expresses satisfaction with your work as they’re more likely to help give you leads when they are in a good mood.

Your request might look better if you have a genuine reason to contact your client, other than asking for referrals. For example, you could be following up about the success of your project or expressing your joy about working with them. This way, you avoid seeming like an opportunistic salesperson rather than a happy collaborator.

How to ask for referrals directly

Sometimes the best way to ask for referrals is simply directly asking. It doesn’t need to be awkward if you’ve earned the right to ask by going the extra mile for your client. 

When asking your existing clients for referrals, make sure you make the request specific, personal and easily actionable. 

If you’re able to, don’t forget to thank your clients if they did refer your friends to you. Sending them a personal note shows you value their business and appreciate the opportunity to work with them and their friends.

Understand your referral growth better with Countingup

Nurturing mutually beneficial relationships with your clients takes time and work. With Countingup, you could save time on bookkeeping and prioritise building better relationships with your clients.

Thousands of business owners are using the Countingup app to save time on their financial admin and focus on growing their business. 

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for self-employed people across the UK.

With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances and save yourself hours of accounting admin, so you can focus on doing what you do best. Find out more here.