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How to ask for a referral [+ persuasion tips and templates]

When should you ask for a referral, and how can you persuade customers to refer your business to their network? It’s all in here.

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Whether you’re a solopreneur or manager of a small business, asking your network and clients for referrals should be a routine.

I know how effective referrals are because they’ve worked for me. 

A quick referral story: 

In 2021, I lost my job.

After a moment of despair, I shared my experience on LinkedIn. A marketer saw my post. She didn’t say a word about it, but referred me as a candidate for an open role. 

LinkedIn conversation with marketer saying I am good at what I do

I clinched the role — because of the referral; I believe — and worked in this company for nine months. 

Without this recommendation, chances are, I might have lost the role.


I didn’t proactively seek a referral from someone who I knew and trust I could deliver.

It’s the same with your satisfied clients. If you don’t ask them for a referral, they might not act. 

In this article, you’ll learn about when to ask clients for a referral. You’ll get referral request templates and persuasion tips that will help you get your client’s nod.

When to ask clients for referrals

With referrals, timing is important.

Sure, your satisfied clients are your strongest advocates. They have peers who they want to invest in the best solutions. But contacting them at the wrong time won’t help. 

Depending on you what you do, here are the different times you can ask clients for referrals:

  • Immediately after a customer buys from you
  • After a successful project is complete
  • When a customer expresses satisfaction
  • During regular client check-ins
  • When clients renew with you

Immediately after a purchase or service

Some products and services offer instant gratification to customers. For instance, if you run an ecommerce business, a client can instantly assess their experience after they get their order. The same goes for home services, consulting services, real estate, hospitality, and many more. 

If you offer these solutions, request a referral after delivering a positive customer experience. 

Referral script template (hospitality)

Thank you for staying with us at [Hotel name], [first name]

We hope you had an enjoyable and comfortable stay.

As our valued customer, we would appreciate your continued patronage and like you to tell your friends about us.

Find out what you can gain by referring us to your peers.
[referral program link]

Warm regards,
[Email signature]

🔖 Bookmark for later: How to write a thank you for your purchase message [+ templates]

After a successful project

Clients who receive a tangible outcome from your service would be receptive to sending you referrals.

Founder of Belkins, Michael Maximoff, says:

“We ask for client referrals multiple times a year, usually after BIG projects and review meetings where our account managers meet and talk directly to the clients.”

Most times, you don’t need to incentivize these clients because the exemplary outcomes you deliver drives them to help. But making the ask in and of itself can influence the desired behavior.

Referral script template (service)

Hi [first name].

Working with you and the [company] team for [months/years] has been a thrilling experience. Your success is our success and we are glad to have achieved [some impressive feat] together.

  • [Key result 1]
  • [Key result 2]
  • [Key result 3]

One way we grow our business is through referrals. We are wondering if you know someone who could benefit from the same experience and services we’ve provided.

Do you? Please let us know.

Warm regards,
[Email signature]

When they express satisfaction

If a client expresses satisfaction, provides a testimonial, or compliments your work, use that as an opportunity to express appreciation and gently ask if they would be willing to refer your business to their network.

Referral email script

Hi [first Name],

Your recent compliments on our work together truly made my day! I’m wondering if you might consider sharing the good vibes with your network. Do you know someone who could benefit from the same experience and services you’ve had with us?

As a token of our appreciation, we’ve got a special [gift card/discount/one time payment] for you! 😊

Thanks again for choosing us, and we can’t wait to hear from you!

Warm regards,
[Email signature]

During regular check-ins

Regular check-ins with your clients are great for getting customer reviews and asking for referrals.

David Gaglione, Founding Partner of PS212, says:

“We sometimes use our monthly or quarterly meetings as an opportunity to ask for referrals.”

Founder of Market Jar, James Nathan, takes a slightly different approach:

“We ask customers for a referral after three months of forming a great working relationship,” James says. “Also, we make the ask at the end of reporting calls,” he adds.

Referral script (for regular check-ins)

Hi [first Name],

I really appreciate the thumbs-up you gave us today!

Just as our interactions have left you smiling, we hope we can extend the same to your network. If you have friends who could benefit from our service, please send them our way. We appreciate your time and look forward to more successful collaboration outcomes.

Best Regards,
[Email signature]

🔖 Bookmark for later: How to write a thank you message for attending an event (with 7 examples)

Upon renewal

Have a client that renews a contract or extend their relationship with your business? That’s a positive indicator of their satisfaction, making it a suitable time to discuss referrals.

Referral script (upon renewal)

Hi [first Name],

Thank you for choosing to work with us again.

We appreciate your patronage.

If you have friends who want results like yours, please refer them to our company. We appreciate your time and look forward to meeting your expectations.

Best Regards,
[Email signature]

How to persuade clients to refer your business

Knowing when to ask clients for a referral is half the battle. The other half is figuring out how to get your customer to act. Here are some tips:

Incentivize clients

This persuasion technique is based on one word: reciprocity. If you want your clients to do you a favor, do them a favor, too.

Alfie Kohn buttresses this in his book, Punished by Rewards. Alfie asks:

“Do rewards motivate people? Absolutely. They motivate people to get the rewards.”

 But not all rewards work — a $100 incentive may not move someone who earns $100k to act.

To incentivize clients, you need to consider their status. Will $100 mean anything to them? How about $200? Figuring this will help you know the incentive that can get your client to act. 

Take VanHack, for instance. The company uses a one time $1000 incentive to attract referrals in its referral program. This amount is worth a lot, considering the type of clients they have and expect. 

Use pathos

Pathos is a Greek word, which means suffering or experience. The goal of this persuasion technique is to appeal to your client’s emotions.


By using storytelling, emotional terms in your referral request, and giving the customer a reason to refer you to others.

To illustrate, here’s an example of a local gym that’s looking for referrals and wants to boost their small business online presence:

Hey [Trainee Name],

Your dedication and results in your fitness journey speak volumes! 🏋️‍♀️💪. Minus you who is now transformed, stats show 41% of people are obese in the U.S. [Trainee Name], we owe it to these people to bring down that stat. This is where your story helps. Share the highs, lows, and triumphs of your gym experience. Your journey might motivate someone to begin their own transformation, hopefully at [gym name]. Let’s spread the positivity and wellness vibe. ✨

There are many reasons this referral request will work. 

  • It briefly tells the client’s story
  • It gives the client a sense of responsibility
  • It gives the client insights on how to help
  • It doesn’t directly ask for a referral

Adopt a similar approach when creating referral requests using pathos. Use emotional terms sparingly and ensure your text feels natural.

Appeal to social need

This persuasion technique is like pathos. Its goal? Appeal to your client’s emotion to get their circle involved in something popular.
A quick example:

Hey [first name],

Thank you for upgrading your home security with our smart door lock 🏡🔒…As you enjoy it, help your peers to do the same. Your referral can inspire them to prioritize their home’s safety and step up their security. Share the safety vibes and refer a friend today. Let’s build a secure community together! 💪🛡️

Get your foot in the door

In this persuasion strategy, you ask your client to do something small and request something larger next. 

This is how it looks. 

Let’s say your client refers one client to you and gets 15% off their order. They do it again. And again. Now, you can further incentivize your client to refer more new customers while also getting a deal that’s also fair.

Channels to ask for referrals from clients (with templates)

Email is not the only channel where you can ask clients for a referral. Text message, phone, call, and face-to-face interaction are other channels. Below are some templates you can modify for each channel.

Email template

A satisfied customer has a high probability of becoming a loyal customer. Use this email template to get your client to refer their peers to your business.

Subject: [Your brand name] + [Customer first name] Share your success! 🌟

Hi [first name],

Your success with our [product/service] has been remarkable. 

We want to assist other people with [product/service] and the peers of our existing clients are first on our list. 

Do you know anyone who will like to get the same experience/products/services we’ve delivered? Your word could inspire them to check us out.

(And by the way, here’s our way of saying thank you {LINK})


[Email signature]

Text message template

For a quick and direct approach, consider texting your clients. Keep it short and sweet. If you have a text message loyalty program, that’s even better because you can ask clients to refer your business and earn rewards from your program.

Hey [Client’s Name]! Your [product/service] success is incredible. Mind sharing your story? Your words can inspire others. Click here to spread the love! [link] – [Your Name]

Phone call script template

When you want a personal touch, a phone call can make a lasting impression.


Hi [Client’s Name]! It’s [Your Name] from [Your Business]. I wanted to reach out and hear how your experience with [product/service] has been.

Referral Ask:

Your success is fantastic! We’re looking to help more people like you. Do you know anyone who could benefit from [product/service]? Your recommendation would mean a lot.

Face-to-face meeting

In face-to-face meetings, sincerity is key. Here’s a template to guide your conversation.


Great to see you, [Client’s Name]! It has thrilled us to witness your success with [product/service]. Your journey is inspiring.

Referral Ask:

We are on a mission to help others like you. Any chance you know someone who could benefit from [product/service]? Your recommendation holds immense value.

Precious Oboidhe
Precious Oboidhe

Precious Oboidhe is a B2B SaaS content strategist for marketing agencies and tech brands like HubSpot, Nutshell, CoSchedule, Single Grain, and EngageBay. His freelance brand is called Content Estate Marketing and he has five years of experience being a freelance writer.

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