Got a Referral? Here are 8 Rules to the Perfect Approach.

Got a Referral? Here are 8 Rules to the Perfect Approach.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

You got it. The most coveted prize in selling besides a sale. A referral. How do you approach this person? How do you maximize the selling power of this referral?

Here are eight rules to ensure your success:

Rule One Go slow. Timing is everything. Don’t appear to be too anxious to get the sale (money). Proper set up will breed a long term relationship (more money) instead of just a sale.

Rule Two Arrange a three-way meeting. Setting the stage for the first meeting/communication can be make it or break it. All three people together sets a perfect stage.

Here are the preferred methods of a first meeting with a referral and customer in order of preference (and effectiveness):

  • Arranging to meet at a social event (theater, ball game).
  • Arranging a meal together (breakfast and lunch are more business, dinner is more openended and casual).
  • Arranging to meet at a networking event.
  • Getting a personal (in person) introduction.

If those methods are not possible or practical, try these:

  • Getting a phone call to the referral from your customer telling of your impending call.
  • Getting a letter of introduction.

These methods provide the best chance for your customer to sing your praise in front of the referral. One third-party endorsement is more powerful than one hundred presentations.

Rule Three You don’t have to sell at the first meeting if your customer is with you. In fact, the less selling you do, the more credible you will appear. You only have to establish rapport, some confidence, and Rule Four, arrange a second, private meeting where you can get down to business.

Rule Five Don’t send too much information on email. Email, like the phone, is not where a sale is made. It’s just a sales tool. Send just enough to inform and create interest.

Rule Six Write a personal note to the referral within 24hours. Brief but positive. Don’t slobber all over the note with thanks, and thanks again. Just tell him or her it was nice to get acquainted and you’re looking forward to the next meeting.

Rule Seven Write your customer a note of thanks. Include a gift if the sale will be of some significance (a quality ad specialty something with your logo printed on it, or two tickets to a ball game). Your thanks and gift will encourage the customer to get you another referral.

Rule Eight Deliver! Failure to follow up and deliver as promised makes you and your customer look bad to the prospect. Failure to deliver also eliminates any chance of another referral. This rule is the most important of them all, it is a breeding ground for your reputation.

What kind of reputation have you got?

One final “real world” note. The least preferred or productive way to use a referral, but the way it seems to happen most often, is a stone cold call (or email) to a name, address and number given to you by a customer or friend. Be creative. Make it a meaningful and personal connection. Get some information about the referral and his company before the first contact is made. Don’t fall into the trap of calling or writing and saying “I was given your name by…” That sounds horrible.

Say instead, “Hi (hey), my name is Jeffrey, my company is BuyGitomer and you don’t know me from a sack of potatoes. I’ve been doing business with (name of customer) for some time now, and she thought I might be able to help you in the same way I’ve helped her. I just wanted to touch base, introduce myself and get your address to send you some information I think you’ll find to be of interest.”

Now say something to establish personal rapport from the information you were given by your customer. Try to get the referral to laugh. Then say, “I’ll call you back in a few days, and maybe we can talk over lunch. Thanks for your time.”

Don’t be too windy. You’re not going to make the sale on the phone. Say just enough to create interest and arrange an inperson meeting.

When you get a referral, treat it like gold. One third party endorsement is worth
a hundred presentations, if you do it right.


Want a blueprint for building referral alliances? It’s a plan for building your sales. Just go to, register and enter the word REFERRAL in the GitBit box.