A referral is the result a job well done, exceeded expectations and delivering an experience worth talking about. Most assume it happens after the fact, but I’m here to tell you it can happen consistently and predictably before the fact if you begin every decision you make with a referral in mind.

Sarah Korf via Flickr

My Grandmother was an old school, every stitch by hand, quilter. She made every one of her grandchildren and every one of her thirty plus great grandchildren a quilt. I remember asking her how she did it and she told me that she always just began with the end in mind. She would make hundreds and hundreds of decisions about where she was going because she had a single minded goal in her head.

Let me ask you this – What would need to change if you were to wake up tomorrow and proclaim that every single one of your clients would be so well cared for they would naturally refer their friends and colleagues? If a 100% referral rate was now your new standard of success, would that make you pause and reflect on just about every element of your business?

Would that make you think about how to over deliver as a design element of your products and services?

Would that make you think about ways to ensure your clients got the results promised?

Would that change the way you followed up 45 and 90 days after the sale?

Would it make you start introducing the idea of a referral during the sales process? Could you confidently assure a prospect that they would be so happy with the result of the purchase that they would want to refer – before they ever became a customer?

Would it make you reassess ways you build trust? Would it make you freely give away information and training that is better than what your competitors charged for?

Would it change how you more fully integrated social media, content and SEO? Yes, referrals happen because of what a referred prospect finds when they search.

Would it change your idea of what an ideal client looked like? Remember, one of the surest ways to generate referrals is to attract clients that fully appreciate your unique way of doing business.

So you see, referrals don’t just happen because of what you do after you have a satisfied client, they happen because of every thing you do before you even attempt to ask for the referral.

A referral happens most when you begin with the referral in mind.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • So true, John.  Sometimes business owners work so hard to execute new prospecting campaigns — important stuff — but forget that they have a rich source of opportunity among their existing clients and customers.  Setting the stage by defining “success” as developing a client eager to refer you is a great way to think about the overall customer relationship.

    •  Yep Jeff and that process actually starts before you ever meet a prospective client.

  • Jolene Sopalski

    I have been racking my brain trying to find a different way to approach referrals and this just help put me on the right path. Thank you~Jolene

    • Good to hear Jolene – it’s funny but this way of viewing referrals stumps most people.

  • John, I only want referrals from Ideal Clients. But it’s up to me to attract and and convince Ideal Clients of my value in the first place.

    The rub is, most businesses are filled with less than Ideal Clients. So shooting for 100% referral rates from less than Ideal Clients brings more less than Ideal Clients.

    My experience is clients rarely refer “up”. 

    Nearly every business must figure out how to get more “A” clients- Ideal Clients, develop the “B’s”, and get rid of the “C’s”

    •  That’s right Walt and that’s one of the aspects of how you begin with the referral in mind – if you’re not attracting the right clients your referral generation is doomed.

  • Solid advice.  Thank you John.

  • Lin Lorica

    Yes, we sometimes think that getting new clients is the most important sales tasks we have to do,and we tend to ignore that there is a bigger potential in satisfied clients when we do the best services for them. they are our sneezers and automatic sales people without us forcing them to do so.

  • thank you John

  • Jerrychait

    The problem with referrals for some salespeople is that they take them for granted. Meaning; they are already sold. NOT TRUE! It’s like taking short-cuts in a selling system. It will bite you in the rear.

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