Asking for Referrals

Asking for Referrals

marzo 12, 2024

Estimated Reading Time: 6 min.

I’m never surprised to hear when our contractors tell me a large percentage of their business comes from personal recommendations. What does amaze me, however, is the number of them who tell me they don’t have a systematic approach to making referrals a consistent part of their lead generation efforts. It leads me to believe that referrals happen accidentally, simply because we do good work. But what if those valuable referrals could happen intentionally?

When I speak to contractors and ask them why they don’t ask for referrals, I typically get one of three responses:

  1. They forget to ask for them.
  2. They’re afraid they will talk past the sale and lose the customer.
  3. They also say they don’t want to appear desperate, like they’re begging for business.

With the exception of “forgetting to ask,” the other reasons do represent legitimate concerns to those who haven’t been taught the proper way to ask for referrals. In the best interest of addressing these concerns, I would ask you to consider the following questions:

Are You Referral Worthy?

This may seem like a stupid question, but it’s worth asking. Being referral worthy speaks to shattering the client’s expectations to the point where they want to enthusiastically tell others about their experience.

What’s In It For Them?

I’m not talking about the value of the cash incentive or gift certificate you give them. I want to know how their referral helps them and their relationship with the people they refer to you. Most salespeople ask for referral and frame their request in a way that better serves the company, and not the client. I’ll get into this in more detail in a few moments.

When answering the “what’s in it for them question” you might want to consider is a “friends and family” type program. This was made famous by one of the cell phone companies and caught on with many of the major department stores, too. You can tell your client that each of the people they refer will receive something of value in their name. For example, you can say, “Mr. Homeowner, I will call each of them and offer them as a gift from you, a free, no obligation 17 point roof inspection and a $500 discount on our premium roof system.” This gives your client some peace of mind in knowing they’re not subjecting their friends and family to the hassle of being hounded by a contractor. They’re actually helping them obtain a free service and better deal if they require a new roof.

When Do You Ask For Referrals And How Do You Set The Stage For Them?

Please don’t ask for a referral at the same time your clients signs the contract. This is a major no, no. Asking a client to recommend you to a friend when they haven’t received your product is a bit like sending your friend on a blind date with someone you’ve never seen or met. It doesn’t work.

It’s my strong recommendation you set the stage for referrals at the time of the contract and follow up with them after they’ve had a chance to evaluate the experience of doing business with you. Here’s what you do: As a rule, you should always make the client feel good about their decision to make you their contractor of choice. Why not use this same opportunity to set an expectation for referrals? For example, you might say, “Mrs. Homeowner, I know you’re going to be so thrilled with the quality of our work and the overall experience of working with us that I’m going to ask at the completion of the project that we meet to gauge your results and identify three people you know who might be interested in achieving the same.”

I know some salespeople might have a hard time saying something exactly like this, but can you honestly think of a more positive message? Telling the client they’re going to be so happy they’re going to want to refer you sets an expectation for top notch, world-class service and your expectation to receive referrals.

How Do You Plan To Ask For Referrals?

Your follow up meeting is designed to accomplish two objectives: First, you want to gauge the client’s level of satisfaction in you as their contractor. Second, you want to get them to refer business to you.

As I mentioned in my second point, your request needs to be about the client and how their referral will benefit them and the person they’re referring. It’s my recommendation you frame the question in a way that leverages your client’s satisfaction and what they tell you made the experience so powerful for them. Don’t say, for example, “Can you think of anyone who might be in need of a new roof?” Instead say, “Mr. Homeowner, we pride ourselves on providing a customer-friendly, risk-free home improvement process for everyone we do business with. Do you know anyone who might appreciate the opportunity enjoy the same level of service and personal attention we provided you on your project?”

Most homeowners will find it difficult to think past their next-door neighbor or immediate family so try and stoke their people bank by asking if they discussed their project with anyone at work or school or the tennis club and ask if any of those people expressed any need or concern about their home. This is a good time to discuss your friends and family plan telling them “Mr. Homeowner, I will call and offer them as a gift from you, a free, no obligation 17-point roof inspection and a $500 discount on our premium roof system.”


As a courtesy, I’d strongly suggest you follow-up with your client to say thank you and let your client know that you took really good care of the person they referred to you. If they ask about the outcome, please be sure to not disclose any information the neighbor might not want to be shared. For example, you wouldn’t want to tell your client that Mrs. Jones’ decided to wait until the end of the summer because they’re concerned that Mr. Jones might lose his job.

Being successful with referrals is not very different from what it takes to be successful in sales. You must be prepared and know in advance what you will offer and how you will frame your request. It’s my strong recommendation you practice your referral requests and incorporate them into your weekly role play, sales training exercises.

Remember successful salespeople have a habit of doing the same things over and over again, so do unsuccessful salespeople. The difference is what they do. Top tier, world-class sales professionals see every satisfied client as an opportunity to earn referrals and they passionately pursue those opportunities.

If you’re interested in learning more about this pricing strategy or how to escape the price-driven sale, please contact me at: