Referrals are Nirvana for any entrepreneur.

No wonder!

Referrals are a true win-win across the board. Since they come from a mutual relation, trust is in place. This leads to a shorter sales cycle, cost reduction in client acquisition, and higher lifetime value clients.

But more importantly, referrals bring you the best-fit clients. In other words, more clients you love to work with, as your clients appreciate you and will carefully select to whom they will refer your business (I doubt you would ask a client from hell “Hey, I’d love if you refer my business to 5 more of you!”).

Who doesn’t want easy sales, better clients and value-based relations, huh?

Yet, many entrepreneurs fail miserably when it comes to asking for referrals.

Here are my top 3 reasons why entrepreneurs go wrong:

  • Hesitate to ask for a referral in the belief they’ll come across as pushy or “in need”.
  • Hesitate about the right timing or are too casual about asking. They wait until the customer relationship has been established for a while, and then they send out an email or bring it up on a call as a casual thing.
  • They aren’t clear in describing what they do themselves, so how can they expect their ‘ambassadors’ to be clear for them?



Here’s how to address the issues:

1) If you feel shy about asking for referrals because you believe you will be seen as pushy, stop and think how eagerly you responded to someone asking where they could grab a cup of great coffee. I am sure you passed your best tip!

Referrals are the best way to create connections. People love to be the go-to-person for good information. Give them a chance ?


2) A referral starts the moment your potential client comes in touch with your business. Every touchpoint should be geared to create a businesspeople want to refer to. A referral is built over time, not when you close a cycle with an existing client.

Last but not least, ask for a referral while the coals are still hot.

When is it a good moment?

Some people argue just after the sale, others after the project is over. However, I align with HubSpot’s suggestion: right after you’ve provided value.


3) Make sure you know how your clients explain what you do when they are referring your business.

Joanne, a client of mine, once complained that while her clients were delighted with her, they didn’t refer her, and when they did, many of the referred people weren’t a good fit.

We carried out a series of client interviews, and we found out that when talking about Joanne they focussed on her roadmap and her strategy – not what she actually did, not what she brought to the table, not what she delivered for her clients.

As a result, Joanne needed become aware of how she spoke about what she did, not how she did it.   Similarly, You need to become aware about how you talk about what you do – not how you do it !

If you focus your message too much on your process (I have an assessment, or a framework, or a test, or a diagnostic tool), most probably, your clients will use those words when talking about you to a referral.

And that is a pity because all of these tools are, well, tools. They are a means to an end, not the result. They are not you or what you do.

Instead, focus on the results of your work, the transformations, and during your projects with your clients, take the time to discuss with them the progress they’ve made so far, you will be paving the way to referrals and helping your business to market itself.


Interested in finding out how you can improve your referrals?

Book a complimentary virtual coffee call. I will help you understand where are the gaps. No strings attached.