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Asking for referrals can be pretty nerve-wracking. The good news: If you do it right, you only have to do it once (per client).
That’s the biggest value this post has to offer you. It gives you a process that you can follow to get referrals…but it also gives your clients a process to follow to refer people to you in the future.
UPDATE: You can now download this script + 14 more proven templates for getting new clients, following up, and building your business—all for just $5.
I hate to use the word “training,” but essentially that’s what you’re doing: conditioning your clients to think of you as someone to send business to, as well as how they should do it. It’s really not as sinister as it sounds though. I swear! 🙂
In this case, the referral process you’re teaching them is:
- Think of someone like yourself who could use my services
- Send my website their way with a few kind words
- Get [insert gift] for every friend who ends up hiring me
I like this route because I absolutely hate “cold calling” people – almost as much as they hate to be cold called! This process removes that insanely uncomfortable step.
The referral gets to scope you out and contact you on their terms. By the time they’ve contacted you, they’re already sold on you. After all, they checked out your portfolio, your sales message, and they liked it all enough to reach out. They’re as qualified a prospect as they come.
Makes sense, right?
That also means you have to have a good website for this to work though. If you need help with that, check out this post.
I’ve found the best time is right after you’ve knocked it out of the park with a finished project. Your client is glowing with happiness that the thing is done and beyond their expectations. They’re grateful and, like all of us, they want somewhere to channel that gratitude.
Why not channel it into a referral? Here are a few templates you can use:
1. Casual & Friendly Referral Ask
First up, I’ve got a really conversational and friendly email script to ask for referrals from clients. It doesn’t always have to be so formal all the time. If you have a good relationship with your client, then ask them a bit like you might as a friend using this script:
Hey [client name],
I’m so glad you’re happy with the latest [website / logo / brochure / etc.]. I’m extremely passionate about what I do, so knowing you’re happy made my day.
Actually, it’s because of this, that I was wondering if I could ask your help in something…
It’s my goal to help as many businesses as I can to grow and flourish through beautiful design. So I was wondering if you knew of any other businesses who could use my help?
I know how much people hate getting “cold called,” so if anyone comes to mind, do you think you could just send my website their way with a few kind words and ask them to contact me?
I’d be extremely grateful.
And of course, as your friends, they’d get the royal treatment. 😉
Also, as a more concrete way of saying thanks, I’d love to give you [insert some kind of gift here: % discount, business card design, etc.] for every person who ends up hiring me.
It’s just a small token of appreciation, as referrals are one of the biggest things that keep me afloat.
Anyways, once again I’m glad you’re so happy, and I can’t wait until our next project together.
2. Formal & Professional Referral Ask
If you have a bit more of a formal relationship with your client, maybe this more formal and professional email script is needed to get the kinds of referrals your looking for.
Dear [Client Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for the opportunity to work with you on [insert project]. I enjoyed collaborating with you and appreciate your trust in me.
As you know, referrals are an important part of my business, and I would be grateful if you could refer me to anyone in your network who could benefit from my services. I strive to provide the same high level of service to all of my clients, and I would love to work with more people like you.
If you could think of anyone who might benefit from my services, please don’t hesitate to share my contact information with them. I would be happy to answer any questions they may have or schedule a call to discuss their needs further.
Thank you again for your business and for considering this request. I look forward to the opportunity to work with more great clients like you.
3. A Shorter Referral Ask Email
If you’ve got a client who likes to “get to the point already” then this shorter email might work better:
Hi [Client Name],
I hope you’re doing well. It was a pleasure working with you on [insert project]. I’m reaching out today to ask if you know of anyone who might need my services.
If you have any friends or colleagues who could benefit from what I offer, I would greatly appreciate it if you could refer them to me. I’m always looking to expand my network and work with more great people.
Thank you for considering my request, and please let me know if you have any questions or need anything else from me.
4. Offering a Finder’s Fee for Each Referral
Some people need a bit of financial incentive to send you referrals. If you think you’re talking to someone who falls in that category, try adding this script that talks a bit more about a potential financial upside for anyone who sends you a referral.
Dear [Client Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out today to discuss a potential opportunity for us to work together again. As you know, referrals are an important part of my business, and I’m always looking to expand my network.
If you know of anyone who could benefit from my services, I would be grateful if you could refer them to me. As a thank-you for any successful referrals, I offer a finder’s fee of [insert amount or percentage] of the project value.
I understand that referrals are a personal matter, and I appreciate any effort you make to help me grow my business. If you’re interested in this opportunity or have any questions, please let me know.
Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing back from you.
5. Proposing to be Referral Partners
And finally, if you want to try setting up a network of referral partners, then this script is a good starting point. It essentially offers a trade: I’ll send you referrals if you send me referrals too.
Hi [Recipient Name],
I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to reach out today to discuss a potential referral partnership between our businesses.
As you know, referrals are a great way to grow our businesses, and I believe that we could benefit from each other’s networks. I would be happy to refer any clients who may need your services, and I’m hoping that you could do the same for me.
By working together in this way, we can help each other expand our networks and generate more business. If this is something that interests you, please let me know, and we can discuss the details further.
Thank you for considering this opportunity, and I look forward to hearing back from you.
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