How to Ask for And Receive More Referrals – Selling Tip #7

Warren gives you 3 ideas you can use immediately to obtain more leads and referrals from your clients.

If you want to learn how to get more referrals, signup for Warren’s 90 minute webinar, “Face to Face Selling: Make Great Presentations and Close More Sales,” taking place Thursday, June 16th, at 12 noon EST.


Getting the Paperwork Done

In early June, I posted an entry titled Winning Referrals. I wrote it because of a number of questions I received on the subject from Ira, a property and casualty insurance agent.

Ira emailed me again to say that he’s getting more referrals and business is up but now, as a result of this new business and increased activity he has another problem: organization. But I’ll let Ira explain it himself in his email and after that I’ll give you my solution to the problem.


I am getting a lot more referrals these days and have done a much better job at staying in front of my clients. I am actually now running into another problem…. Organization! (or lack of….) I have to do all my own quoting and paperwork, and I am finding that I am spending a ton of time in "non-sales" activities, and less time selling….. I am still about a year away from hiring someone to do much of the administrative "stuff" for me, but I could certainly shorten that window and make a ton more sales if I wasn’t so bogged down with all the paperwork……

Love to hear your thoughts on this one……



This is one of the most common problems salespeople face and it’s also one of their favorite excuses. “I’d love to sell more, but I have so much paperwork, I have no time to sell."

No problem. Simple solution: Stop selling; you’ll have no more paperwork. Of course, you’ll have no more clients either.

That said try this: don’t do paperwork during selling time. Remember paperwork time is infinite. You could do paperwork at 2AM or on the weekends. Selling time however is finite. You can only be selling when the customers are around. So don’t ever let me catch you doing paperwork when you could be either talking to or in front of a prospect or client.

Yes, this will require you working longer hours in the short term, but in the long term, your sales will increase dramatically enabling you to hire administrative help.


Developing and Finding Leads

I just received an interesting email from a reader. His name is Jonathan and he has a question about prospecting, a favorite subject of mine. More specifically it’s about developing and finding quality leads. He wrote:


Good day. I purchased your “Don’t count the yes’s, count the No’s " audio program. I’ve listened to the audio often and I’m ready to begin making calls. Before I got your program I planned to call companies from the local yellow pages. After listening to your program, it appears that’s not the best way to do this. Can you tell me what’s the best way to get quality leads and do you recommend any companies? Thank you for any information you can give me.

Best Regards,


First of all, it’s not that I don’t recommend the Yellow Pages; it’s just that I consider it a last resort. The first thing you need to do when starting out your prospecting effort is to figure out who you want to call. Develop a client profile that specifically describes what types of clients and people you want to deal with.

For example:

  • What kind of companies are you looking for (size, industries, maybe even location)?
  • Who will be your contact person? A purchasing manager; VP level; Middle management. If you don’t know who you’re looking for, it’s going to be real hard to find them.

Cold calls are another last resort. But if you don’t have any clients, hot leads or referrals, you better start making some cold calls in order to develop your own hot leads and referrals.

When I first started my speaking business over 21 years ago, I was mostly conducting sales seminars, so my plan was to approach companies that were very sales oriented. Right off the bat, the first thing that came to my mind was the life insurance industry: an abundance of salespeople; new ones being hired every day; plus it was an industry that was not afraid to spend money on training.

So every Sunday, I picked up the New York Times and went to the help-wanted section and looked under “Sales Help Wanted.” I found numerous ads placed by local sales offices of large life insurance companies. Not only were they advertising for salespeople, but there was also a contact name (usually the sales manager) and a phone number.

First thing Monday morning, I would call, ask for the sales manager (the perfect contact person for me) and when asked by the receptionist, “What is this in reference to?” I would say, “The Sales Help Wanted ad in yesterday’s Times.”

Naturally, I was connected to the Sales Manager. Once on the phone I would say, “I’m not looking for a job, but since you are hiring all these new salespeople, you’re going to need someone to train them. Let me tell you about my services.” I would get the appointment and, very often close the deal to train their agents.

But here’s the best part! Every one of those sales managers knew other sales managers in other offices and it was real easy to pick up at least 3 or 4 referrals every time I did a session.

Once you get the ball rolling, and, of course, deliver a good product or service, cold calling becomes less of a factor in developing new business. as you now have a hot new source of referrals.

To learn more about how to get tons of referrals, read these past articles:

Referrals: The Lifeblood of Sales Part I
Referrals: The Lifeblood of Sales Part II
Winning Referrals


Winning Referrals

I just received the following email from Ira, who is a property and casualty insurance agent. He has a very interesting question about referrals and since this is such a big topic among salespeople and business owners, I thought I would share my reply with you:


I just found your site via your BusinessWeek interview, and I really enjoy your content.

I wanted to ask you a question regarding referrals. About a year ago, I got into the commercial insurance industry. I provide small to mid-size companies General Liability coverage, commercial vehicle, property insurance, etc. I am very fortunate in that I am quite often able to lower their costs without sacrificing coverage and am able to provide outstanding service to my clients.

My question is: how do I get these guys to understand that I really am trying to build my business with referrals and have them give me some names, intros, etc, without them feeling like they are putting another sales guy onto them? I feel like if I can save someone 40+%, they should be willing to help me out by giving me some guys to contact.

What are your thoughts?

My first thought is that Ira is hurting himself mainly because of his perceptions (sales sterotypes). Ira is not only providing a valuable service to these business owners, but in his own words states, “I am quite often able to lower their costs without sacrificing coverage and am able to provide outstanding service to my clients.”

Anyone who can do that is not selling; they’re helping, which is what successful salespeople do. A salesperson like Ira who saves clients money while delivering quality service is not another sales guy out there bothering people.

Good salespeople who deliver lower costs, asset protection and quality service are the kind of people clients and prospects WANT to see. This makes it Ira’s obligation to get referrals. Rather than “putting another sales guy on them,” don’t you think Ira’s clients would love to refer him to fellow business associates knowing that if he does the same for them, it wil help their businesses?

I think the issue Ira has is quite common. He’s afraid to ask for referrals. He shouldn’t be, especially since he does such good work for his clients. But while Ira states, “they should be willing to help me out by giving me some guys to contact,” the first rule of referrals is: "You have to ASK!" In referrals and in life, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. You cannot sit around and wait for something to happen; you have to MAKE it happen.

Here’s what Ira should do:

  • Make a courtesy call to each one of his clients.
  • Ask each one of these clients for three names. When asking for referrals always ask for a specific amount. Don’t use open ended questions like, “Do you happen to know anyone who might be able to use my service?” That’s the kind of question that usually gets you a big fat NO!
  • When speaking to his clients, Ira needs them to agree with him that they are more than satisfied with everything he’s done for them and then ask them if they know three other business owners, they are friendly with, who they feel could benefit, much like they are, from his services.

People know and hang out with others who are just like them. In Ira’s case, his clients are business owners. I guarantee each one of them knows other business owners.

Referrals are the life-blood of a successful business. A prospect who has been referred by a satisfied client is more likely to buy and more likely to become a long term repeat client.

So remember the three rules of referrals:

  1. ASK!
  2. ASK for a specific number
  3. ASK the kind of questions that can be answered. (Could you give me the names of three business owners you know who might benefit from this service?)

Links to past articles on winning referrals: