How to ask for a client referral

Written by: James White

“James how do I ask my clients for a referral, I am not sure how I can ask them?”

I am going to share with you a few simple tips on what you can do to get an existing client that you love to refer you to people that they know.


The first thing you’ve got to do is make sure that the client that you’re talking to is actually really happy to give you a referral.

It’s a very common thing for people to say yes they’re happy to do something, but deep down (or when you probe beneath the surface) they actually don’t really mean what they say.

My top tip is to make sure that you ask your client initially how they really feel about the service that you’re giving them and whether they would feel comfortable in recommending you to someone else.

Ask them questions such as:

  • How do you really feel about what we do?
  • Tell me what real impact it’s making for you

This enables you to get underneath their skin and check that they’re really happy.  If they are and then say “yeah, we love the work that you do”, then you can then reply with, “great, would you be open and comfortable to refer me to some other people that you know?”

Doing this makes asking for the referral easier.


Put some time in your diary to sit down with your client.  Take them for lunch or a coffee, and talk through what the referral could look like. 

So many people do it on an ad-hock basis, which basically is just “hope” that the other person is going to give them a referral.

If that client is important to you and your business, then it is always a nicer approach to offer to treat them while you talk them through what you want to achieve.   Ask for their help and suggest how you think they can support you. 

Make the time for them. Don’t just send it as an email.


One of the things that I encourage you to do (something that someone suggested to me), was to have a referral document which outlined what you do.  This makes their job much easier as the referrer because they are able to see who your would and would be perfect for.

If you would like to see my referral document to help you to be able to create one, email me at and I will happily send you mine.

Give them a simple document that they can use to refer on so when they’re passing your details onto someone else they’ve got something concrete to use, rather than being wishy washy in an email.


Always remember that people don’t refer generally for some monetary value or something in exchange for that referral.  They refer because they want to share and help and support other people.

Sometimes there’s this misconception that people are going to want something in exchange for referring you. That is not always the case!  You have to remember that their reputation, or their whole business network, is linked to what they do so they are not going to want to recommend at the risk of bad service.  

If someone has taken the time to refer you, I recommend that you send them a little thank you.  I often send some cakes, brownies or a bottle of wine to say thank you to whoever referred me. 

I had a client recently who referred me and that has turned into a large amount of business.  I sent him a really nice gift in the post that he was absolutely thrilled about.  Guess what? He is going to continue to recommend me on a regular basis because of that, so do simple little things to show gratitude.


When you are having a referral meeting with your client, remember that they’re giving up their time. 

Try to understand what their perspective is (for referring you) and still try and make it about them.

You could, for example, talk about situations where you’ve been able to solve problems for that type of industry.  Try also talking about how they could share their knowledge and insights and help someone else in their industry at the same time.  People love being helpful!

Make sure you are thinking about them as part of the referral process.


Don’t just expect to take a referral.  Have a referral mindset!  If a client is giving you a referral, return the favour and ask them how they are growing their business, what they are looking to achieve, and where could you be value to them in your network.  There might be people that you know that might benefit from their service. 

When we approach things from both sides and find what works for both parties, we get better results!   Instead of going in thinking selfishly (thinking about what you want to gain from them), think about what you can give in return.  It’s going to help you get a brilliant referral, and hopefully a referral that’s going to mean more business for you in time.


I hope this blog has been useful to you with some key tips on how you can ask a customer for a referral.

You can get great referrals and if you put the time and effort into working with your right customers and talking about the challenges that they’re facing and how you can help others in a similar situation you’d be amazed at what occurs. Focus on making it about them, show gratitude when they refer you and make sure you have that referral mindset and you will be in great shape getting great referrals.


How do you currently ask for client referrals?

Publish date: 29 April 2022

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