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How to Ask for Referrals Without Being Pushy

Have your new customer leads come primarily from referrals?

While having a variety of lead channels for your business is ideal, it’s not a bad thing for more of your leads and sales to come from referrals! These tend to be the highest quality and highest converting leads.

A major concern for small business owners looking to increase referral traffic is that they don’t want to seem needy or pushy.

Let me clarify something real quick.

“Can you send me a new client because I’m hurting for business?” is needy.

“Can you refer me to X?” is pushy.

But asking for a referral in general is not needy or pushy. It’s just business.

So, how can you encourage clients to refer without the dreaded pushy or needy feelings attached?

  1. Ask for a review.

Online reviews (such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook) can really help your business - especially if you have a physical location.

Not only does they showcase your reputation for good service (assuming you kick ass at what you do), but they also help you rank higher in search engines.

Asking for a review can be as simple as setting up an iPad in your building and saying to customers, “Hey, would you mind leaving me a Google review?” and pointing them to the iPad. This works great, because you’ve taken a lot of the work out of it for them. They don’t have to remember it for later, when they’re at their computer.

If you’re emailing out to your customers, you can send off a quick email:

“Hey NAME!

We’re looking to grow [NAME OF BUSINESS] this year.

We’d love to work with more customers like you, and it helps when prospective clients can read about what it’s like working with us online.

Would you mind taking a moment today to share about your experience on either Google or Facebook (or both)?

Click here to leave a Google review

Click here to leave a Facebook review

We appreciate it!



^^^ I don’t care if you copy and paste and use that. My own clients use that email and receive floods of reviews, so PRO TIP: If you have a lot of customers/clients, send out waves of emails over the course of a few months, so you’re not getting a flood of reviews, then crickets.

To find your Facebook review link, navigate to your Facebook business page, then click “Reviews”. That’s the link.

To find your Google review link, you can use this handy dandy tool from Supple. (BONUS: They automatically fill in 5 stars. You would be amazed how many people think 1 star means great service).

2. Identify your top referrers.

Chances are, you know these people off the top of your head. They’re the ones already actively talking about you on social media and sending people your way.

If you’re not sure who these people are, take a quick look at your data. (No data? Send out a quick survey, and include the question “How did you hear about us? / Who referred you to us?”).

Pick the top 3, 5, or 10 people (depends on how ambitious you want to be), and write them a card. I know, I know, handwriting cards is literally the worst thing in the world. But do it anyway. People appreciate that you went through the worst thing in the world to actually write them a card, because no one really does this anymore. You stand out.

Now pay attention to this next part: Thank them for referring and INCLUDE BUSINESS CARDS. << I put that in CAPS so you don’t miss it, because, you guessed it, this is usually the part people miss. It’s one thing for me to say, “Go see Nick Patterson over at Dig Deep”; it’s a completely different thing when I can hand someone a card. Two days from now they’re not going to remember the name, but they will be able to find the card you gave them.

It’s also nice to send along little thank you gifts. Note that this is NOT legal for some businesses (such as chiropractors and other medical practitioners), but if it’s a client or another business that refers you clients consistently, sending along a thoughtful gift (read: not a generic gift, but one that actually makes sense for that person) can help cement the likelihood that they’ll keep you top of mind.

3. Ask people.

This is the one that is so obvious, it pains me to say it.


Here’s the thing:

People want to talk about products and services they love - they just need to know what you want them to do!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I didn’t know that you were looking for new work” or “I wasn’t sure who to send to you or what I should say.”


Let your clients, colleagues, and business associates know that you’re open to referrals and the best way to put them in touch with you (intro us by email, send them to our assessment, have them give me a call…).

Don’t make them do the work. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t really like to think. So don’t make them think more than necessary, or the referrals aren’t gonna happen.

Probably the hardest part about this is that it’s uncomfortable. We don’t want to seem like we’re needy or begging for business. You’re not. Intention is everything, and people can sense intention. If you’re genuinely needy, asking for referrals will appear as begging for work. But if you’re genuinely open to referrals because you want to help more people, chances are good your clients and partners will refer to you. No neediness involved.

Give one or all of these solutions a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

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