The art of making introductions and get referrals

Why asking for business referrals ?

The business introduction is a huge driver in B2B selling. According to a study by Forrester, Word of Mouth is the #1 influencer of B2B purchase decisions.
Buying decisions mostly rely on trust from industry peers and colleagues, far beyond what the salesperson can say. From our experience, we can see 3 major benefits from getting business referrals:


The right attitude to take a referral

Keeping your referrer in the loop keeps you top-of-mind. He is likely to pass an introduction the next time you need one and is more confident in proposing again to play the referrer.

Remember: without trust, there is no room for a business referral tweet


How to get a referral? (the checklist)


The referral process: email, phone or physical?

You may wonder what is the best medium: ask/make an introduction via email? by phone? in physical meetings? You have to know your option from the start and don’t let the other wonder which medium suits best. Making introduction has to be easy for the referrer.

We interviewed a random slice of IKO users who constantly ask for introductions and are successful as viral business developers. We then mapped the following table:

Strength of YOUR relationship with the referrer Your approach/medium for asking (YOU>Referrer) Referral medium (Referrer>Target)
Strong relationship Direct approach by Email. Be straight to ask. Email Referrer>Target (see graph)

Mild relationship

Get a reason to call (Phone) and then ask. Email (referrer>target) OR the referrer gives you a direct line

First-time meeting

Physical. At the end of the meeting, don’t go out without referrals Same as above (MILD relationship)

The following graph illustrates the best referral process by email:


Ask the referrer to send an email to your target and put you in copy. Thus the target will surely open the email (delivery) and instantly consider you in his circle of trust (you are recommended, right?). Usually, the target will reply to the referrer with the same tone and put you in copy.

You step in his life in an informal manner and you’ll probably start your new relationship in a casual way.


How to pick up a good referrer?

Asking for a referral is easy from a satisfied client, a partner or a friend. It is also possible from a prospect (but you have to feel this thing, huh?).

Consider 3 scenarios depending on your sales tactics:


What to tell the target?

If the referral process is conducted by email, the target will give you his phone number and

What happens then is another story. You now have everything in hand to place the perfect call and arrange the perfect meeting.

One final stat: 80% of calls with a referral lead to a meeting! tweet

If you want to dig deeper into the drivers of referrals in business, I invite you to read the great 3-parts article from Drew Stevens on salescrunch.