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From Compliment to Customer: Teach Your Sources to Make Referrals

From Compliment to Customer: Teach Your Sources to Make Referrals


“I just told someone about you.” 

If you’re a business owner or salesperson, you’ve heard this statement countless times. It’s a compliment to be mentioned—but it doesn’t necessarily help you to grow your business.

According to online community Top Sales World, salespeople who actively seek out and leverage referrals earn four to five times more than those who don’t. The missing link? You may have to teach your best sources how to make referrals. Here’s how to turn a compliment into a customer.

Frame the Ask

Tell your source in specific terms what type of referral you are seeking and can serve best. For example, if your source is an accountant and your ideal customer is the director of finance for a manufacturing company, provide your source with the names of specific companies that are a good fit for you. If your source is a customer who fits your ideal customer profile, help them to think about similar people among family, friends, work colleagues, neighbors, professional and social groups, or business contacts.

Define the Process

Give your source a clear process for referring.

  • Find out who the referral is and what your source said.
  • Make sure you get the referral’s contact information such as: “Thanks for thinking of me. I’ll reach out to Tom and mention that we spoke. First, let’s make sure I have the correct phone and email for him.”
  • Suggest an email exchange, such as: “Why don’t I send an email to Jane and copy you, so that all three of us are in the loop?” If your source prefers to make the introduction, agree upon a timeframe: “I appreciate your making that email introduction for us. Will this afternoon work for you?”

Provide the Tools

Even your biggest fans won’t make referrals unless it’s easy for them.

  • If your source talks to people face-to-face, provide them with several of your business cards with the message “Referred by (source’s name)” on the back.
  • If you have sources that communicate primarily through email, provide them with a brief referral message that describes the positive outcomes of working with your company, product or service. Add your email address to the cc line, and add a link to your LinkedIn profile to the body of the email. Your source can simply forward this email to the referral.

Targeted referrals are an effective way to grow your business. They also require a give-to-get mentality. Make it easy and mutually beneficial for your sources to make referrals, and you’ll convert compliments to customers.

Elizabeth Usovicz

Written by

Elizabeth Usovicz is principal of WhiteSpace Consulting®, specializing in top-line revenue strategies, business development coaching, qualitative research and strategy session facilitation. She can be reached at elizabeth@whitespacerevenue.com or (913) 638-8693.

Categories: Sales, Sales and Marketing


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