Your #1 Untapped Source of New Business


Sales success is not just about who you know; it’s about who your clients know. And if you’re not asking them for referrals, you’re missing out on your most critical business-development activity—the only strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not.

If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

The clients you serve well—the ones who know, like, and trust you—truly want you to achieve sales success. After all, they know your work and the business results you’ve helped them achieve. And referring you makes them look good to their contacts. They’ll be happy to introduce you to their networks—but only if you ask.

Here’s the hard fact: Most customers think of us only when they need us, so your clients may not automatically refer you. It’s up to you to get them thinking about you between orders. You have to regularly remind them you exist so that when a referral opportunity arises, you’re the one who gets it.

Everyone Is a Part of Your Sales Team

If you don't include your current clients in your referral sales team, you leave money on the table—every single day.

Get upfront and honest with yourself. Ask (and answer) your two most important prospecting questions:

  1. How many client relationships do I have? (Translation: How many people do I know in all of my current and former client organizations?)
  2. With how many of these clients do I have great relationships? (Criteria for “great”: They return my calls.)

Let’s say you have 40 client relationships. What if you spent your sales time getting back in touch with them? If just 25 percent offered referrals (a conservative estimate), you'd receive eight to 10 amazing new prospects, and at least four or five new clients.

Referral Selling Works

Most salespeople know numerous current or former customers well enough to receive a steady stream of referrals. But they leave untapped referral riches at their fingertips.

How many of your clients have you asked for referrals? Most sales professionals tell me “not many” or “hardly any.”

Take a few minutes and imagine your new sales life when you talk to prospects who want to talk to you. When you receive a referral introduction, you:

  • Arrive pre-sold (they know you and the results you deliver)
  • Have already earned trust (one of the hardest things for salespeople to gain)
  • Gain instant credibility (they know you’re not just there to “sell” them something)
  • Shorten your sales process by at least 25 percent (which decreases your cost per sale)
  • Convert referred prospects into new clients more than 50 percent of the time (most sales reps tell me it’s more like 70 percent)
  • Fill your sales pipeline with so many qualified leads that you’ll never have to cold call again.

Referral selling works. So get back in touch with your clients, ask them for referrals, and ask how you can help them. Your new sales opportunities will amaze you!

About the Author

Joanne Black
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling and a sales executive with contrarian points of view. As the founder of No More Cold Calling™, Joanne works with sales teams to build disciplined and measurable referral programs that enable salespeople to score meetings in the C-Suite, derail the competition, and convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time.
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