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How to Use Referral Sources to Increase Sales

referral sources

Do you want to routinely meet and exceed your monthly sales targets using referral sources?

Want to increase your sales with a trusted network of contacts?

Want to have fun with new business development?

Look no further than your own database. There remains one constant truth about building relationships and new business development — even since the days of cavemen when one person recommended the best spear sources to one another. Your existing network is one of the best opportunities to connect with prospects and increase sales.

Referral sources = More closed deals

69% of companies with a trusted referral program will close deals faster. When you work in partnership with your network of contacts, it’s possible to close the majority of your referral opportunities. This is an extremely effective method to grow your sales, and the trust is a key component.

Cultivating referral sources not only increases sales, but it can enrich your life as you develop your network with a selection of people you know, like and trust. Building a referral network takes a certain amount of dedication.

Dr. Ivan Misner, the CNN designated “Father of Networking” and founder of BNI and the Referral Institute, points us in the right direction with his fishing analogy.

“Referral marketing is like fishing with a net. You think about how to cast the net to optimize your chances of catching fish. You choose a likely spot, throw your net and when you pull it in, you find a number of fish. You have a pretty good idea of how many fish you’re going to catch if you do this a few times, but you don’t know which individual fish are going to end up in your net. The fisherman concentrates on casting the net, not on the individual path of one of the fish.”

Referral marketing is ultimately the practice of building a base of customers and clients through support from your network of contacts. This is a systematic cultivation of business by referrals.

So referral marketing is more about intentionally growing your network as a system — regularly and consistently casting your net. Learning how to grow your network systematically for exponential sales growth is the new tool for a very old business development method.

Here are five steps on how to create a referral from your network to increase your sales.

referral sources 5 steps

1. Create trust in your relationships

A referral is a transfer of trust. A member of your network shows that they believe in your business when they give a referral. They are giving a piece of their reputation to your prospect.

The extent to which that this conviction is shared with your prospects has everything to do with how willing members of your network are to roll out the red carpet. Only strong relationships with a solid based of trust will create strong referrals. Build those strong relationships.

Takeaway: Strong relationships = Strong referrals

2. Share your business knowledge

Only 12% of your network can help you with a referral. These people are the members of your network who know you, like you and most importantly, trust you. You and these valued members of your network will need to continually share business knowledge with one another.

Selecting the right members of your network for these 1:1 conversations is key. They must have the right attitude, motivation and be in a strategic position to help. And, of course, you must have the right mindset to manage this conversation. Reciprocity is king here. You are helping one another with referrals, so seek out the ‘givers.’

Takeaway: Referrals come from strategic 1:1 conversations

3. Understand the needs of one another’s prospects

You and your referral source must understand and clearly articulate the needs of one another’s ideal prospect. Armed with this knowledge, you can qualify all referral opportunities for one another. At this point, the closing rate of the referral starts to track above 34%, going north to a 50% closing rate.

Takeaway: Your educated referral source can qualify your prospect for you 

4. Learn about one another’s solutions

Both you and your referral source must be able to articulate your solutions clearly to one another. Learning the elements of your solutions helps with preparing the way to a higher quality referral.

Takeaway: Articulate your solutions clearly = Higher closer rate  

5. Set up an appointment to connect

The overall goal of this process is to create the all-important appointment with the prospect, but make sure the right people are attending. Dedicated referral sources attend one another’s first appointments with the referred prospects whenever possible. This can help you achieve an 80% closing rate.

Takeaway: Make sure you meet together with the prospect and your referral source


Following these steps will help you effectively leverage your referral sources to increase your top line. It’s time to put these steps into action. Which network contacts will you reconnect with to set up your next referral conversation?


Paula Hope, Booked SolidPaula Hope, referral marketing expert, coach, consultant, trainer and author has been helping aspiring professional service providers create the revenue they really deserve for over a decade. Connect with Paula here via email or the Booked Solid website.