The power of words: How to ask for a referral

It’s amazing how one small word can make all the difference to the course of a conversation, be it written or verbal. Carefully consider your choice of words and phrases, and you could see very different outcomes from your communications.

This isn’t news to me. But, it’s something I’d like to re-focus on having listened to Phil M. Jones, Author of “Exactly What To Say” on the Marketing Book Podcast.  Unlike a lot of podcasts, this one was packed with advice and tips for salespeople about what to say, when to say it and how to make it count. There are some great lessons for marketers too.

One example that resonated was how to ask for a referral. Everyone wants referrals…but in reality how often are people asking? And, when they do, how effective is the request?

Phil’s magic referral formula makes a lot of sense. He deconstructed the ‘ask’ to demonstrate how giving thought to the words you use can change the course of the conversation and deliver the results you want.

How to ask for a referral

They say: Thank you

You say: You couldn’t do me a quick favour?

They say: Sure

You say: You wouldn’t happen to know just one person, someone just like you, who’d also like to [awesome benefit they’re excited about]?

Breaking it down 

  • Ask when they have thanked you for something – at this point, your client is feeling a sense of goodwill and so it’s the perfect moment to ask
  • A quick favour is a very difficult thing to say no to, particularly when you’ve just thanked someone for something (there’s a sense of indebtedness at this point).
  • ‘You wouldn’t happen to…’ – this is a nice soft question starter
  • ‘know just one person…’ – if you ask if they know ‘anyone’ this is too taxing, narrow it down it to ‘just one person’ lowers the cognitive load
  • someone just like you’ – this is flattering, makes your request more specific and easier for them to think of that special someone
  • Finally, remind them of the awesome thing you’ve enabled them to do. Why wouldn’t they want the person they know, just like them, to benefit too?

I sent this to our sales team the day after I listened to the podcast. The results? I will report back!

The magic referral formula

I’d really recommend listening to the podcast (on 1.5x speed!) – if you skip the first 10 minutes you won’t miss much other than background and introductions. Click here or search on iTunes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: