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How to Ask for Referrals for Your Small Business

Building your clientele is easier to accomplish with referrals from satisfied customers. Referrals are a simple, free solution to building awareness of your products or services. This article covers why a referral system is important for small businesses, methods of asking for a referral and a template and examples of how to request referrals from clients.

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Why is a referral system important for small businesses?

A referral system is a set structure for asking, collecting and organizing the referrals and recommendations current clients provide. When a client is pleased with your business, they’re usually willing to tell colleagues and friends about their satisfaction with your service after you professionally request it. Gaining new clients through referrals often causes a chain reaction of additional referrals, helping your business grow.

Other common benefits of a referral system include:

  • Builds trust and retention: Clients who receive referrals have already built trust in you because they trust the colleague who referred you, so the chance of staying with your business long-term increases.
  • Increases the chance of purchasing your product: Most are providing you with names of people within their industry who would benefit from your product, increasing the chances of easily selling to them.
  • Is cost-effective: You spend little to no money and time requesting referrals, saving you from launching costly marketing campaigns.
  • Increases the likelihood of receiving more referrals: Once the customer your referred customer feels satisfied with your business, they’ll continue referring you to more clients, which can remain an ongoing effect with even more of your clients.

Methods of asking for a referral

There are numerous ways to ask your clients for referrals. Possible methods for your business to try include:

  • Verbal: Speak to clients on the phone or in-person. If you’re still new to requesting referrals, write a script to follow to keep yourself direct, brief and sincere as you ask.
  • Email: Request referrals through email by personally sending one to a satisfied client or conduct an email campaign sent to many of your satisfied clients.
  • Business cards: Rather than directly asking for the referral, hand your business cards to clients and ask to pass those along to clients who they believe will benefit from your product.
  • Surveys: Send a survey to current clients asking how likely they are to refer your business to friends. Contact the clients who are likely to refer colleagues and request their contact information.
  • Social media: Build social media campaigns that make it easy for your clients to share with other businesses and colleagues.

Templates for asking for a referral

Ask for a referral after your client has worked with your business, is pleased with their experience and is ready to tell others about it. Follow these templates when asking for referrals:

Phone call or in-person

Hi [Client name],

[Use one or two sentences to explain how pleased you are to see their business benefiting from your product or service.]

[In your final one or two sentences, tell them how you’d like to help others with your services and how you’d appreciate them referring your service to their friends or colleagues who may also find your product useful.]


Hello [Client Name],

[Mention how you hope this email finds them well.] [Use one to two sentences to express your appreciation for their business and how enthusiastic you are about their success so far from using your product.]

[Use your final one to two sentences to mention how you’d appreciate them telling their friends or colleagues about your service, so you can provide them with impressive results as well.]


[Your name]

Examples of asking for a referral

Use these suggestions when asking for a referral for your business:

Phone call or in-person

“Hi Ms. Adams, I’m so excited about how well our marketing software has been helping your company streamline your communications and launch more campaigns. I’m always interested in helping others increase their marketing efficiencies and was wondering if you knew anyone else who could also benefit from this software.”


“Hello Mr. Andrews,

I hope this email finds you well. I just wanted to express my appreciation for your business and how exciting it is that your company is already seeing such impressive results from our product.

If you have friends or colleagues who you know would benefit greatly from our business, would you mind passing their name and contact information along? I would love to reach out to them to explain how we’ve seen great results with your company and would love to do the same with theirs.

Thank you so much for your help.


Amy Michaels”

Tips for asking for referrals

Stay confident and positive when asking for referrals, even if customers decide not to refer you. Follow these tips when asking for referrals:

Thank them for their reference

If your customer refers you to anyone, offer them a discount on your product or send a thank-note to show your gratitude.

Ask after you’ve worked with the client for a while

Wait until the client has fully experienced your service before requesting referrals from them. Asking for referrals a few months after purchasing your product allows them to work with your service first-hand and relay this experience to others.

Set goals for yourself

Develop a referral system that involves setting goals to ask for a certain number of referrals per week or month. This allows you to practice referral pitches and helps you gain more clients in a cost-effective way.

Send referrals to clients as well

If you give referrals to your clients, they can be more inclined to reciprocate and send you a referral for your service.

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