Referrals are a big key to business success. But if you’re not getting enough of them to grow as quickly as you’d like, take a look at the Four Rs.

It’s Expo Week and I was invited to present three training sessions on education day. One was about Cashing in on Niche Markets. One outlined the Ultimate 90 Day Marketing Plan and another was about Creating Word of Mouth for yourself, by designing simple referral marketing systems that pay. And I’d like to share a few points from that training with you right now…

When I think of word of mouth, I think “reactive.”

Word of mouth happens when people think enough of our work to recommend or refer us to others. But referral marketing systems are different. They’re proactive.

If word of mouth is about waiting for people to refer you, referral marketing systems are about doing what’s necessary yourself… going out and getting referrals – now.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of being proactive. I don’t like waiting around for things to happen — particularly things that might not happen at all.

It reminds me of an old quote from Zig Ziglar who said, “Don’t look for your ship to come in if you haven’t sent one out.” I’m all about sending out those ships!

So when we ask for referrals, we should do it proactively.

We should also do it in a way that helps people to solve problems. In other words, we don’t say, “who do you know who wants to buy something from me?” That’s way too salesy, and needy and kind of pathetic.

Instead, we should ask them how we can help someone they know solve a problem.

For example: Who do you know that needs help promoting their business? Who do you know that needs to attract more customers? Who do you know that needs help creating awareness, or getting noticed, or motivating their salespeople?

When you ask in a way that’s designed to help people, the responses you get are much better. Because no one wants to sic a salesy, needy, potentially desperate salesperson on someone who trusts them.

Very obvious advice, but often overlooked. Simply by changing the way we ask, we can dramatically improve our results and feel much better about asking. Because it becomes about helping them instead of just helping ourselves.

In my training session, I also introduced what I call The Four Rs of Referrals.

Instead of just blurting out a request — “Hey, who do you know?” — I recommend that you start out by…

Reaffirming the Relationship. That’s the first R. You could say, “I’m really glad we’ve been able to do business together all this time. It’s such a pleasure working with you.” When you sincerely reaffirm the relationship, it reminds people about why they’ve done business with you in the first place.

Which brings us to the second R, which is Remind.

If you already do a lot of business as a result of referrals, it’s a good idea to remind people of this. This reminder also helps you to convey the idea that you don’t do business with just anyone. Now maybe you do, and if that’s the case, you’ll have to come up with something different to remind them of, but if you can say something like, “As you know, I work almost exclusively by referral business,” it gets agreement and sets the stage for…

The next R, which is Relate.

We want people to know that we’re not looking for just anyone. We want clients just like them — the people we’re asking. In addition to being flattering, it’s also just good business. Because if you have a good or a great client, you DO want more just like them. And who is in a better position to know someone like themselves than the person you’re talking to? You can accomplish the third R with just a simple statement like, “I’m looking for more clients just like you.”

After that, we get to the fourth R, which is the Request.

As stated earlier, the request will work better if you start it with “Who do you know that needs help?” as opposed to “Who do you know that wants to buy?”

So if you’re using the four Rs in conversation, you’ll find it flows really well and really easily.

“I’m really glad we’ve been able to work together so well all this time. I think you know that I work almost exclusively by referrals and I was thinking that I’m really looking for more loyal clients just like you. Tell me, is there someone else you know, maybe in a similar position or a similar business, who could use my help promoting themselves more effectively?

The Four Rs will help you make getting referrals a lot easier. I hope you found this helpful.

If you’re new to the industry and need to get grounded in the essentials of promotional products sales, visit us online at If you need to get clients now with no distractions and no excuses, visit Or, if you’re a smart, focused, independent distributor doing a reasonable volume of sales, join the AIM SmartEQP community today at that’s

    2 replies to "These Four Rs Will Help You Get Referrals"

    • Andrea Georgeson

      I love your straightforward approach. Would you suggest using an incentive program for referrals?

      • David Blaise

        I personally don’t recommend using an incentive program for referrals. I prefer to have people recommend me when they feel confident I will do a great job for the people they are referring. Sending a thank you note or acknowledgment after receiving a referral is a DEFINITE in my opinion. And if that thank you were to include a gift, I don’t see anything wrong with that. But in that situation, it’s seen more as a thank you for the referral, and less as a bribe to get the referral. This is just my opinion, however. Others have used incentive programs successfully, so if you feel strongly about it, you can certainly test it.

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