4 Reasons Why Your Clients Aren’t Providing Referrals


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It wasn’t supposed to be like this. You’ve built a base of satisfied clients. You provided great service. And you’re waiting for the referrals to come rolling in . . . and waiting . . . and waiting.

What went wrong? Likely, one or more of these four situations is to blame:

1. They aren’t aware how important referrals are to your business

If your clients stopped to think about it, they would realize that referrals are an essential part of your business. But most won’t stop to think about it. They have a million other things on their minds. It’s up to you to constantly remind them that you appreciate referrals.

The most obvious way is to bring it up in conversation. It’s surprising how many business professionals miss out on referrals simply because they don’t ask for them. There are other ways to remind clients that you appreciate their help, too. Many real estate agents, for example, include a line of text on their business cards and other marketing materials about the importance of referrals to their business.

Demonstrating your appreciation for their business and support is more effective than words alone. That’s one reason why our personally branded magazines are effective for our clients. Whether you use a magazine or make some other gesture of gratitude, it should represent the value of your relationship with that client.

The quality of our professional publications will blow you away. Click to get a free PDF sample sent to your inbox.

2. They’ve forgotten what makes you stand out

Your clients chose you and gave you positive reviews for a reason. Maybe it’s your great service, your in-depth knowledge, shared values, or something else entirely. Whatever the case, a positive experience is a powerful motivator for giving referrals. Most clients will want to share those experiences. So why don’t they?

Often, the opportunity doesn’t present itself right away. As time passes, the memory of those reasons starts to fade, until eventually, clients forget them altogether.The good news is that something as simple as staying in touch can help. Any conversation or interaction can trigger a positive memory or emotion. If you can form strong relationships, you dramatically increase the odds of that happening.

3. They don’t know whom to refer

Not every referral candidate is obvious, especially to clients who aren’t trained to look for opportunities. Often what happens is clients will provide a referral to someone who is at or close to the decision making stage. They won’t know these same people could have used your services much earlier and now it’s too late.

To remedy this, don’t just ask for referrals. Be specific about what makes a good referral. Mention traits or situations that could signal a good fit now or down the road. Eventually you will train your clients to spot and provide better referrals on a more consistent basis.

4. You haven’t made it easy enough

Even the slightest inconvenience can derail referral efforts. You need to eliminate all friction if you want to gain more referrals. Let me explain . . .

Suppose I do know people I can refer to you. Will I bother to look up their contact information? For that matter, will I even feel comfortable giving out their information? That’s friction. Passing your name and information along to my contacts can also involve friction. What do I say to them?  Will I now have to spend time and effort writing an e-mail?

Anything you can do to make things easier increases your chances of getting the referral. For instance, you could create an email template or online form that makes the process fast and easy for your clients. That’s what we did when we asked for referrals from this page. Clients can use the prepopulated message or edit it to say whatever they want.



If you’re not getting as many referrals as you should be from your clients, it’s probably due to one or more of these reasons. Start taking steps now and you should see referrals start to increase in no time.

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