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Asking for Referrals Over the Phone: 2 Challenges & 3 Guidelines

by Bill Cates
Asking for Referrals Over the Phone

During a phone call with a client, planning the agenda for a speech, my client wanted to make sure I would address the best methods for asking for referrals over the phone. And while asking for referrals (and getting introductions) is usually best done in person, it’s certainly possible to be effective over the phone. Heck, most of the referrals and introductions I receive are accomplished this way.


There are two challenges with asking for referrals over the phone: 1) You don’t usually have as much time, and 2) You can’t observe body language.


3 Strategies to Follow When Asking for Referrals Over the Phone


  1. Go for One Solid Introduction – With impromptu client phone calls, it’s often difficult to buy enough time to ask for referrals. What’s more, you’ll rarely have the time to create a solid, not-going-to-fall-through-the-cracks, introduction. In these cases, go for one, solid introduction to a qualified prospect. Forget the “brainstorming” concept that I teach and focus on getting introduced to one new prospect who’ll be waiting to hear from you.
  2. Create the Time – Personally, I like to work from scheduled phone appointments as much as possible. In addition to allowing me to have a more proactive (less reactive) day, I’ll have more time to talk about referrals, introductions, and other important matters without feeling rushed. While this isn’t always possible, it will certainly give you more control over your day and time for key conversations.
  3. Come Prepared – The “S” in our V.I.P.S. Method™ stands for “Suggest Names & Categories.” You will always be more effective asking for referrals when you come prepared for the conversation. Start narrow – with a specific person if you can – and then continue to broaden with a category or two. The number one cause of referral failure is not coming prepared to suggest an introduction to a specific person.


I hope you found these guidelines on how to ask for referrals helpful. Remember, these are only guidelines. The stronger the relationship you have with your client, the easier it is to break all the rules.

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