5 Sure-Fire Ways to Build Referral Business

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Dec 18, 2023 by Sean Luce

If you could increase your business by 20 percent simply by asking one question, would you do it? Yet few Radio sales reps ask for referrals on every call. If you have been in the business more than five years, 80 percent of your new business should be coming from referrals. If you have been in Radio sales for more than a year, that figure should be at least 20 percent. Your greatest increase in sales this year should come from your active client base.

Do you like to pick up the phone and make 20 cold calls just to secure two appointments? That's not working very smart, is it? With qualified referrals, you could call half the prospects and get twice as many qualified appointments. In most cases, you just need to work smarter, and that's what you do with a systematic approach to asking for referrals.


1 Know where to get your referrals: The best source of referrals comes first from satisfied clients, second from prospects who say no and third from those referred to you by another trusted friend or professional outside of your industry.

2 Form a referral alliance: Not all referrals should come from satisfied customers. When you accept the notion that the best way to build your business is through referrals, then you will constantly look for referrals within groups and associations with which you are involved. Getting referrals from other salespeople within and outside of your stations is also another great way to build this alliance.

3 Target niche markets: Create a reputation for you and your stations within one or more categories of business, and your referrals will be more targeted. Businesses tend to want to copy each other, and they want to talk to the person who is helping their competitor grow. With this strategy, you automatically bring a high level of expertise to the table, and your personal reputation within a targeted niche spreads very quickly.

4 Use a simple three-step process for qualifying and asking for the referral: First, qualitatively and psychographically describe a typical client of yours. Now, let your sources imagine the faces of people they know: vendors, friends, members of associations they belong to; then ask directly for the referral and wait for the answer. They will think of someone. This is better than just asking, "Do you know anyone who might like to advertise on our station?"

5 Set Referral Goals: When you put together your monthly planner, include the number of referrals you plan to ask for and how many of those referrals you turn into sales. Ask your manager to make it part of every sales meeting to keep you and the rest of your sales team honest. A properly managed referral system will help you develop more qualified appointments than you will actually need... hard to believe. You will then be in the enviable position of working only with people who are qualified to use your stations. That?s working smarter.

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