Ask for the referral in email

Want an incredible boost to your sales efforts? One of the most important activities taught to every rookie salesperson from day 1 is to ask for the referral. At the end of the sales process, ask for the referral – ask a presumably happy customer to refer someone to you. Just bought a car? If the salesperson is any good, they’ll ask if you know anyone else looking for the car you just bought. Just purchased insurance? The agent will ask who else in your family needs coverage.

Why? Referrals and word of mouth advertising are some of the best converting business opportunities you can have. As long as customers are happy with you, referrals convert better, buy more, and buy more often than random people you do business with because they’re powered by word of mouth and trust. (obviously, if customers are not happy, fix that first)

Astonishingly, almost no one asks for a referral by email:

No one asks for a referral in emails.

In an admittedly anecdotal, unscientific survey of 20 different purchase confirmations in my inbox archives, only one even asks me to sign up for their newsletter. None ask for a referral.

What are some of the ways you could ask for a referral?

  • Ask for the referral in the confirmation message after a purchase.
  • Ask for the referral in the subscription confirmation in your newsletter.
  • Send a 7 day post-purchase followup email and ask if the customer is satisfied and who else needs one.
  • Depending on your business, send a 1 year “anniversary” email celebrating the day you started doing business with the customer, and ask for the referral.
  • Ask for the referral in your daily/weekly/monthly newsletter consistently.
  • Ask for the referral on your blog.
  • If you have the ability to track return visitors on your web site, ask them to refer someone every now and then.

Ask for the referral as frequently as you reasonably can. It doesn’t have to be in-your-face-bold all the time, but make sure the opportunity for a referral exists in all of your communications to existing customers. As long as you fulfill the promises you make to them and they’re happy, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose from referral business.

How you ask is as important as asking. Specificity is the secret of referral marketing. If you ask a customer to think about someone who might want your product or service, chances are they won’t. Be specific! Here’s an example. Which of these referral requests is likely to deliver more business to you?

  • If you know anyone who could use our services, please forward this message to them.
  • Who do you know at your company that would also benefit from our services?
  • %name%, which two friends of yours have you been hesitant to tell about their breath? Click here and pick 3 very subtle hints you can send them.

The last referral is highly specific, which is coupled with a landing page with pre-written copy, is likely perform the best as it asks for a concrete number of referrals, identifies who is the best candidate for a referral, and reduces or removes any anxiety about what to say in a referral. As long as the referral copy is creative and fulfills the promise, it will do well.

I’d be failing to follow my own advice if I didn’t ask you to refer one other person you’re connected with in social media to subscribe to the WhatCounts newsletter right now. Want even more tips? Download our free eBook, Email for Sales, and get all of our sales-focused email advice in one easy read.

Christopher S. Penn
Director of Inbound Marketing, WhatCounts

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