I can tell you that the relative health and success of most businesses can be gauged by this simple factor – how many clients refer friends, neighbors and colleagues.

This may be hard for some to hear, but if you are not receiving lots of referrals, there may be something that needs fixing.

If you have any issues around asking for and expecting referrals, something may need fixing.

So here’s the deal, what’s your referral number? What percentage of your clients refer business? If you can quantify that number you’ve got a great starting place to build from. That one metric may just be the simple answer to all your marketing woes.

Create a baseline for that number and then ask yourself continuously what you can do to improve it.

Sometimes you need to fix your products or processes, other times you need to fix your message. Many times this number is too low because you have too many clients that aren’t right for your business and that you don’t serve well because they aren’t profitable. Unprofitable clients are hard to thrill.

Start asking clients that do refer, why. Start asking clients that don’t refer, why. Start asking everyone you do business with what you could do better and then fix it.

Your goal – a referral number of 100%. A girl’s gotta have a dream!

Join Our Content Community
Please leave this field empty.

First Name

Last Name

Your Email (this will be your username)

Password (at least 8 characters, 1 number, 1 upper and lowercase letter)

Already a member? Log In

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.
  • John Jantsch

    Chuck – Amen – Chocolate Chip with walnuts!

  • Chuck, chocolate chip cookies sound good to me. A recently served me espresso and French pastries at our meeting. Bribing the consultant with food! That works too.

  • Oops, that second sentence should say, “A client recently…”

    (I think I need more espresso).

  • Give clients more than they expected.
    Give them real value.
    Ask for referrals while their “high” is still there. Ask repeatedly.

  • John Jantsch


    Agreed – even clients that love you need this kind of help just because everyone’s got lots of plates spinning. The easy plate gets the meal.

  • Great post John.

    One thing that business owners need to see to is how difficult or easy it is for their clients to refer them. How can the businesses facilitate proactive referral! Happy clients would usually be more than willing to provide referrals if it is easy to do so at a time when they ‘high’ on
    satisfaction of product/service. I think that majority of referral opportunities are lost because of lacking means for providing referral.

  • Can we agree that you probably won’t get a high ‘referral number’ unless you can consistently build & develop great relationships with your clients?

    That is where I see most companies fall short. They provide a great product or service… and they move on to the next client. They fail to build that transactional relationship into a meaningful relationship.

    John, as you mentioned, this is where processes & messaging needs fixing for most. From your follow-up process to your feedback soliciting process to your ‘serving the customer in a remarkable way’ process.

    As always, great advise John.

    ~ mel

    Melvin Rajnesh Ram
    CEO, Volcanic Internet Marketing
    Direct: (916) 743 9369

    PS: I’m hosting a web seminar called ‘Relationship Building Secrets’ 2 weeks from now. You can register at: http://www.gotomeeting.com/register/219601529

    PS2: I’m looking forward to your webinar on the Duct Tape Marketing Coaching Program

  • Your post in a four words – turn WOM into WOW!

  • Jim

    One of the best things we have done is to encourage referrals without asking why. It doesn’t give us as much detail on why they refer or don’t, but we often understand the client enough at the end of the sale to understand why they might want to refer new clients. Anyway, this is how we have automated our referral generation and it serves as a feedback mechanism.


  • I think the best way to create referrals is to treat every customer like they are your only customer and make them feel like they are important to you. And you could always bake them cookies.