It has been proven time and time again that once you are referred to someone, you are 90% on the way to closing the business – unless you turn up with three heads of course!

Prospects will always do their own homework first on which suppliers to use. With information available at the click of a button wherever you might be at any given moment, it makes doing research so much easier. So, when that prospect receives a recommendation for a supplier or better still, conducts their own research, it makes it much easier to go with a supplier that has been personally endorsed by someone you like, trust or respect.


Lesson 1: Don’t be afraid to ASK for referrals

In a recent study about referrals/recommendations Harvard Business Review found two big findings:

  1. Ninety percent of customers said they would be delighted to make recommendations; yet ONLY 10% of suppliers ask for them!
  1. Everyone you speak to knows 1,000 people. When I first learned this I thought what rubbish, I have four mates! When I gave it some serious thought though, I realised I have 3,500 LinkedIn connections, over 400 clients and 4 mates. Therefore, indeed I exceed the 1,000 people.

Having helped over 13,500 sales professionals around the world, I always ask, “Why don’t you ask for referrals?”

I will address the three standard responses I often get:

  1. Didn’t even think about it

The reason they did not think about it is that it is not a habit…YET. You have to MAKE it a habit. I will share the three best methods on how to do that in my next blog.

  1. If they wanted to refer me they would

I have received good service from suppliers in the past and been extremely happy with everything. Did I always recommend them? NO, not for any other reason than I didn’t think about it and more importantly, they DIDN’T ASK! Had they asked the right way, I would have been delighted to make the recommendation.

  1. It’s desperate

People often say they don’t ask for the business because they are worried it comes across as desperate. This is one of the major reasons why many sales people don’t win the business; they just didn’t ask. This is exactly the same principle with asking for referrals; if you are world class and your customers adore you, you are likely to receive some referrals reactively. Start proactively asking and this will multiply 10 fold or more.


Lesson 2: Ask for referrals in an open and leading way

Imagine you swapped jobs with me. Imagine whatever you do for work no longer exists and you are a professional sales and motivational speaker. You speak at conferences all over the world. You also run a sales training company called Sales Doctors and teach people how to sell. As Managing Director, who would be your first phone call to drum up new business?Think about previous jobs at which you worked, think about your friends and your family or connections you have; who is the first person that comes to mind that works in sales or is responsible for a sales team? Write down the name of the company and/or the name of the person you call first.

Now please email them saying you know a great speaker and kindly copy me at See what I did there?

The reason that works is you had to enter my world for one minute. Had I said to you, “Can you think of anyone who books speakers at conferences or needs sales training,” you probably would not have given it much thought. As I forced you to think of it, you did; it works.

Another technique is positive affirmation. You may say to a customer “at our company we are always striving for excellence and we really value our customer’s feedback. How have you found the experience in dealing with me and my company?”

When you receive positive feedback say, “I’m delighted to hear that; it means a great deal to me. Ninety percent of my business comes from recommendations. Whom can you think of, friends, family or otherwise, who I might be able to help?

By asking it in an open and leading way, you are far more likely to get an open response and a positive outcome, and thus, MORE REFERRALS!

You have the knowledge, and now it’s time to take action. Ask and triple the amount of referrals you currently get and convert at the highest percentage you have ever converted.


Tony Morris is a sales expert and motivational speaker, whose high-energy message leads individuals and organisations to incredible success. He delivers over a hundred talks a year in his unique, energetic style to corporations and at events all over the Globe. Tony knows sales as well as he knows life and more importantly, he knows what it takes to lead a successful business! He has the ability to translate his hands-on experience into a coherent, compelling and exciting philosophy, which has made him an inspiring speaker and a powerful sales trainer to over 8,000 sales professionals. Today, Tony Morris shares his thoughts on how to gain referrals to grow your business.