Recommendations - an inexhaustible source for acquiring new clients. Organizations of entrepreneurs who exchange recommendations are developing very dynamically. More and more salespeople are reaching clients this way. And yet, recommendations still represent enormous untapped potential.

As Texas Tech research shows, as many as 83%1 of respondents declare that they would be happy to recommend a salesperson’s products and services after a well-executed transaction. This is the percentage who say they would give a recommendation. According to the same study, only 29% of the respondents actually recommend a given product or service. Such a large discrepancy results from the fact that salespeople rarely ask about/for recommendations. And if they do, they make many mistakes.

The strength of acquiring clients through recommendations is huge! A few weeks ago, a friend invited me to a business meeting at which salespeople exchanged recommendations. I was surprised by the number of recommendations prepared. There were over 30 people in the group. 80% of them had a recommendation prepared, a contact for another participant. In addition, group members informed one another about their progress in contacting with previous recommendations. Most of them actually resulted in a sale.

A good recommendation

There’s one huge condition for strong recommendations - that you know how to ask for them properly. We surely all remember times when, in certain industries, it was normal for the salesperson to ask the client at the end of the meeting: ‘Could you give me numbers of ten friends who would be interested in such services?’ Most interesting was that such a question was asked even when the client declined the salesperson’s offer. I’ve never wanted to give someone’s number in this situation. The reason was very simple - I was more interested in maintaining good relations with my friends than in helping a stranger whose services I didn’t even use.

A week ago, I met my friend, who runs a successful employment agency. The day before yesterday, I was speaking with a client who happened to tell me that she was looking for employees. With a clear conscience I called her, knowing that she was satisfied with my services, and asked if she’d like my friend to contact her. She agreed. My friend was also very happy when he found out. Did I take advantage of that? Of course - if they work together, each side will be satisfied. How: I served both myself, my client, and friend; my friend gained a new client, and my client gained a useful business partner. And one more thing - do you think my friend or my client would like to repay the favour? My friend has already told me that he’ll talk about my services with his clients and recommend them as much as I recommended him. The client is happy that I thought about her. Next week I’m going to contact her and ask for a recommendation.

Rules for working on recommendations

The strength of a recommendation is huge, that’s why I present several key principles related to asking for recommendations. These principles will help you avoid mistakes, gain contacts, and operate in a way that will be ‘easy and pleasant’ for both sides.

1. Start to ask for recommendation

Many salespeople don’t do it at all, they wait for the client to offer. And they’ll certainly offer - if they remember. Often, when I talk to salespeople about recommendations, I hear from them that:

  • it doesn’t make sense, because they won’t get a recommendation anyway,
  • it’s worse than cold calling,
  • nobody recommends anything today.

If you take a similar approach, you’re definitely right. If you believe that you won’t get recommendations, then you won’t - so why ask for them at all? If you’re convinced that asking for recommendations is worse than cold calls - start making cold calls. And if you’re looking for a way to ask for recommendations effectively, because you understand the strength of this prospecting tool - read the article to the end. What’s wrong with asking for recommendations? Absolutely nothing! It is the same as any other task an effective salesperson has to take care of.


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