Giving and Getting References, Testimonials and Referrals

We know that referrals, references and testimonials help open doors and close business.

Using someone’s experience, framed in their own words, to help you to market your products and services, is much more powerful that you directly telling about your own products and services.

Last week was make a referral week and that inspired me to write about tips for giving and getting referrals and testimonials.

First tip: Give before you get. Even though you may be looking for referrals, it doesn’t work unless you give referrals first. When you learn how to write a good referral or testimonial, you’ll also learn how to ask for one as well.

There’s a fine art to asking. Some people are great at it. For example, Joan Stewart, publicity expert and  master of words and strategy,asks for testimonials for ye Publicity Hound‘s products and services like this:

What would you say to your friend? Please be as specific as possible in telling us the name of the product or service you bought, describing how this product or service helped you, and what you liked most. An easy format is to begin by saying “where you were” before you bought the product or service, how you used the product or service-or how it helped you-and the end result.

Andy Sernovitz keeps it short and sweet. (Hat tip to Joseph Provenzano):

Just ask. “I’d be grateful if I can quote your kind words” is how I ask.

There’s also a strategy for when and how to ask for a referral. Wait until after you’ve delivered the products or services before asking for a testimonial or referral. Check out Clayton Shold’s interview of Colleen Francis of Engage Selling about about when and how to ask.

Recommendations on LinkedIn is an easy way to get started. They coach the writer on how to say specific things to help with writing the referral.

How do you know the individual?
What position did they hold that you’re writing about?
What was the year(s)?
Select three specific attributes. Write a short 3 sentence paragraph.
Now, take 3 steps. Go give 1) a referral, 2) a recommendation and 3)a testimonial. After you’ve done those 3 things, you’ll have a much better idea of how to ask for one. And the karma is in your favor!! Remember, what goes around, comes around!

15 thoughts on “Giving and Getting References, Testimonials and Referrals

  1. Chris, thanks for including information about how I ask for testimonials. But I want to give credit where credit is due.

    That question regarding testimonials was written by Jeanne Hurlbert at Jeanne is the incredible consultant I hired to help me create the Customer Profile Survey that I sent to more than 50,000 of my Publicity Hounds earlier this month.

    We included that question specifically to generate testimonials. and we received more than 90, most of which we can use at my website!

    Thanks, too, for the tip on asking for recommendations on LinkedIn. Dozens of comments filled with praise can help any LinkedIn user crush their competitors.

  2. Chris,

    Awesome information that people can put to work, right away, to deal with this tough economy. Your tips will get results. I just signed up for your feed!

    I love the emphasis on “giving to get,” which is so important in managing and building all our business relationships.

    I wanted to add a tip on getting referrals, if I may. People often ask happy customers to think of a “friend” who might want the product or service, but that term might not bring large numbers of people to mind, because it’s so generic.

    Another approach is to ask satisfied customers to think of people they in specific places: folks they know from professional or business associations; neighbors; people they know in civic or community groups; people they know from their place of worship, etc.

    When we “cue” them with these specific contexts, we’re likely to get more of the “pre-qualified prospects” we’re looking for.


  3. Jeanne:
    You are so right! “Friend” “Business Associate” is too generic. Much like just the word testimonial is too vague, suggesting categories really helps people to visualize. Good Point!!

  4. Have you ever considered publishing an ebook or guest authoring
    on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you
    share some stories/information. I know my viewers would enjoy
    your work. If you’re even remotely interested,
    feel free to shoot me an email.

  5. Hello there! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how to make
    your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone4.

    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue.
    If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Many thanks!

  6. It’s really a simple process, as it involves digging a hole several feet deep and
    solidifying the pole in place with concrete. There are all kinds
    of other ways to understand more about score in the game astounding:.
    That question seemed to bewilder her, so I asked clerks in other stores and
    those who were not stunned by this question told me that there was no
    such thing as an American made basketball shoe, with the possible exception of Chuck

Comments are closed.