The #1 most common technical mistake when asking for referrals

How to Ask for Referrals

I want to talk to you about the number one, most common, technical mistake that salespeople make when they’re asking for referrals.

Now, when I say technical, I mean the mechanics of what you say and do.

A lot of getting referrals is about mindset.

It’s about the mentality.

But what I want to address here is the technical mistake, meaning this is the thing that salespeople say is wrong.

Even if they have the right mindset, when it comes to asking for referrals, this is what they do incorrectly.

At least, I’ll say that our experience shows that this is far less effective than the alternative, which I’m going to talk to you about.

I’m going to share with you the right way to do it also.

First, let me tell you the wrong way and the reason why it doesn’t work.

What most salespeople do, whenever they’re going to ask for a referral, is they ask to be introduced to someone who needs what they do.

This is the mistake.

Most salespeople ask their friends, family, customers, and colleagues, whoever they’re asking, and they asked to be introduced to people who need what they do.

As an example, if I was a real estate agent, it would be something like asking someone if they know anybody who is looking to sell their house right now. 


If I was selling cars, it would be asking if they know anyone who’s looking to buy a car right now.

When I was in college, I sold books door to door in my summers. It’d be asking if they know anybody who loves books for their kids.

You can even apply this to sales professionals in business development. They think they need to find people who are looking to invest their money.

That’s what most salespeople do.

This is a faulty belief.

It’s faulty in the fact that it’s limiting.

For both for you, not only as the sales professional, business development, or the entrepreneur but also in the minds of the people that you’re asking for referrals from because that’s an incredibly specific thing that you’re asking for.

If you were asking me for referrals here, you’re asking me to assess the interests of the people that I know.

And that’s incredibly difficult.

Not only do I have to think about everybody I know, but I also have to think about who do I know and what do they like, and what do they need right now?

And I don’t even know that information.

It makes it very hard for me to recall and provide names to you, even if I wanted to because, heck, I don’t know who reads books in their house. That’s never come up in conversation. I don’t know.

In many of my deepest relationships, I might have not even talked to them in a couple of months.

That’s the mistake that most salespeople make is they ask to be referred to people who need what they do and it’s restricting what they want to do.

Making the Sale

rory vaden quote

Here’s the secret.

Don’t ask to be introduced to people who need what you do. Ask to be introduced to people that are who you do it for.

That is what you want to do. 

Because what we were trying to do is we were trying to take a shortcut to the sale too quickly.

We’re trying to find who is ready to buy. That’s not the right way of thinking. You don’t

necessarily need to be introduced to people who are ready to buy what you have.

That’s great if it happens but what you need is that you just need to be introduced to people and have that right mindset of not asking them to figure out who’s ready to buy.

That’s not their job. That’s your job. 

My job, as a sales professional, is to figure out who is in the market and who isn’t, and to build a relationship because everyone is in the market at some point for a lot of different products.

From buying a home, buying a car or a private jet, to buying books. Just about everything as people, at some point, come in the market.

I’m not asking you to do my job of figuring out who’s in the market right now. That’s my job.

All I’m asking for, from you, is to introduce me to cool people who are like the people I do it for. I will contact them, and I will figure out if it’s a good fit right now.

This is how you eliminate awkwardness and take the pressure off the people you’re asking for referrals from.

If you’re just asking for me to introduce you to people that I know, that’s no problem. I would do that for anybody. Not a big deal.

And that’s how it needs to be.  

Your job is to contact them and build a relationship and find out if they’re interested. That’s not my job. That’s your job.

So don’t ask to be introduced to people who need what you do; ask to be introduced to people who are the type of people who you do it for, or whom you do it for.

I wouldn’t say, “Hey, who do you know that’s looking to buy a car right now?”  

Instead, I want to know the psychographics and the demographics of the kind of people that buy from me.  

If I sell Lexus’s, which is a high-end car, I deal with high-net-worth individuals.

All I’m going to do is to say, “Hey, you know, would you ever be open to introducing me to your doctor?” 

Right? Because why?

Because doctors traditionally have more money.

“Would you be ever open to introducing me to your lawyer?”  

“Would you ever be open to introducing me to the entrepreneurs that you know?” 

Right now, I can immediately recall people in my mind. I have no idea if they want to buy a car, but that’s not my problem. That’s your problem.

And your problem is if you make it my problem, I won’t be able to come up with any names for you.

You are going to create tension, awkwardness, and pressure on me and eventually, the relationship that you have with me.

Don’t ask to be introduced to people who need what you do; ask to be introduced to people who are the kind of people you do it for such as doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, chiropractors, dentists, school teachers, people who work in the military, people who work at Walmart, parents of the kids on your kid’s soccer team, etc.

That’s what you want to do.

That is the number one technical mistake that salespeople make.

It’s because they’re trying to shortcut too quickly to make the sale.

Don’t ask to be introduced to people who need what you do.

Ask to be introduced to the type of people who you do it for.

If you do that, I promise you’ll start generating lots more referrals, lots more introductions, lots more relationships.

And out of that will come a lot more money. Cha-ching!

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