Do you offer a great product? Provide outstanding customer service? If you answered “yes” to either question, ask yourself one more: Is your business getting the referrals that it deserves?

Referrals through word of mouth are a great way to grow a business. Unfortunately, they don’t often happen on their own. According to research cited by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), as many as 50% of people need to be asked specifically to make a referral—even if they say they are highly satisfied with a business and its services.

The Good Business Paradox

Why the paradox? Interestingly, people assume that a company that provides great products and service already has all the work that it needs. In other words, they don’t think that their referral will impact the success of the business. I tested this theory in my own business and it was true. In fact, one of the first people I asked for a referral said the following: “Patrick, I didn’t know that you were looking to grow. I thought you had all the projects that you could handle.” He then made several referrals, many of which have turned into fruitful business opportunities.

If you’re wondering whether you need a salesperson’s personality to ask for referrals, the answer is “no.” Asking for referrals doesn’t have to come across as pushy or promotional. Let customers know that you value them, and that you would like to work with more people like them. From their perspective, it’s a chance to serve others by sharing your business with them. If nothing else, you will make them feel appreciated—a powerful source of goodwill.

Asking for Business Referrals

In this video that I made for Grange Insurance Association and its network of independent insurance agents, I talk about the importance of asking for business referrals:

For specific tips and techniques on how to ask for referrals, read on in this next blog post.