Not Getting Enough Referrals? Here’s Why…

Referrals are a great way to grow your business!  In fact, according to a recent Nielsen study, customers are 4 times more likely to buy from a business when they are referred by a friend.  Generating a referral is not only the ultimate compliment, but it also saves you time, money and energy compared to other forms of marketing and advertising.  So, I’m sure if you are like most people, you’d love to get more referrals. 

In my experience as a Business Coach, while most business owners and salespeople understand that referrals are probably the best way to grow their business, they either aren’t getting any referrals, or they aren’t getting enough to make it sustainable.  If you are having a similar experience, here are the top 5 reasons you aren’t getting more referrals, as well as what to do about it: 

Reason #1 – You’re Not Referable

If you are like most people, you’re not walking around all day wondering how you can help other people grow their businesses.  In fact, when it comes to referring business to someone, most people don’t really care who you are or what you do, they care about their reputation.  If you stop to think about it, this makes total sense.  Imagine for a second that there is a restaurant that you love to go to.  They make fantastic food, and most of the time, you get a great meal and have a great dining experience when you go there.  However, every third or fourth time you go, something goes wrong or you have a bad experience.  Are you going to refer someone to them?  Of course not!  You’ll probably never refer someone to that restaurant because you’d be concerned or worried that the first time they went would be the time they had a bad experience or something went wrong, and this would reflect poorly on you and your reputation.

The simple fact of the matter is that the #1 reason that you aren’t getting more referrals is because your clients or customers are concerned about their reputation if they were to refer someone to you.  Perhaps it’s your service level, or maybe it’s your consistency.  There may even be another reason.  Whatever that reason may be, if your clients don’t believe that you will protect their reputation and make them look like a rock star for referring you, they won’t.

Reason #2 – You Don’t Ask

The #2 reason that you aren’t getting more referrals is that you aren’t asking!  In fact, Dale Carnegie did a study on referrals, and they found that 91% of customers are willing to give a referral, but only 11% of salespeople and businesses ask. 

In my experience as a Business Coach, the reason you aren’t asking is your own mindset around referrals.  Most people have a number of disempowering belief systems around asking for referrals, like being afraid of coming across as needy, being seen as a “used car” salesman, or just the fear of being rejected.  So, they just don’t ask.  And, as Michael Jordan once said, “You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.”  So, if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.

Reason #3 – You Ask, But Get Less Than Stellar Results

Have you ever done a great job for a client, asked them for a referral, and received one?  Were you all excited that you were going to generate some more business, only to find that the person referred to you never called?  Or perhaps they did call, but weren’t a good fit – or worse yet, weren’t someone you even wanted to work with?  If you are like most businesses, this happens all the time.  You muster up the courage to ask, only to get referred to someone that’s less than desirable. 

The main reason for this is that, while you may be asking, you aren’t asking the right questions.  Keep in mind that most people want to protect their reputation.  So, when asked for a referral in a vague or general way, they are most likely going to refer you to someone that they don’t hold in the highest esteem, or at least aren’t worried about damaging their reputation with.  Additionally, if you are asking vague questions like, “Who do you know that could use a coach?”, you’re probably not going to get a great result.

The opportunity here is to know who your ideal client is – the person that you would love to work with and do the best job for, and ask specifically for a referral to this person.   By knowing what you want, and specifically asking for it, you’ll get a lot better results!

Reason #4 – You’re Not Creating Raving Fans

You may do a great job for your clients, and you may even be getting some referrals.  However, if you aren’t creating raving fans, then I can guarantee that you’re leaving money on the table.  The reality that the average person today is getting bombarded by over 3,500 marketing messages on a daily basis.  Opportunities and distractions are rising at an exponential level, and everyone is super busy.  So, if you’re business isn’t creating raving fans and really sticking out from the crowd, you’re not going to get noticed.  And, if you’re not top of mind in your clients eyes, they probably won’t be thinking about referring you business anytime soon.

Reason #5 – You’re Not Making It Easy

Another key reason that you aren’t getting more referrals is that you aren’t making it easy to refer people to you.  Let’s face it, if giving you a referral requires some time consuming process or a massive effort, most people just won’t do it.  However, if you coach your clients on how to give you a referral, and leverage your sales and marketing systems to make it super easy to do so, people will gladly help you.  Having an incentive program is also a great way to nudge people a little and make it easy and advantageous for them to tell other people about you.

So, now that you know the top reasons that you aren’t getting referrals, or perhaps enough of them, you’re probably wondering, “Well, what do I do about it?” 

Get The Cheat Sheet:  The 5 Keys To A Great Referral System

In order to address the problem and to get you off to a great start with generating more referrals, I’ve built a simple cheat sheet for you entitled, “The 5 Keys to a Great Referral System”.  This cheat sheet will show you how to generate more referrals for your business in a systematic and sustainable way, and is based on what I’ve learned coaching thousands of business owners, salespeople, and entrepreneurs over the last 15 years I’ve been a business coach.  It’s my gift to you, and you can download it here.



Tom Kelly is a Professional Business Coach that specializes in working with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. He can be reached at (630) 964-0112, or at

Copyright © Tom Kelly, Potential In Motion, Inc.TM 2018

Tags: referrals

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