When is the best time to ask for referrals? Timing is important, so this is a crucial part of your referral system. In this note, we’re primarily going to look at the question of when to ask clients for referrals. However, some of the same principles hold true when asking for referrals from non-client sources.

Modern sales wisdom says that it’s best to build a relationship with a client before asking for referrals. This is especially true for professional service firms, you are not selling cars and maintaining a good relationship is critical. Asking for a referral after the close of the deal when the prospect is finished and ready to move on can feel like an intrusion. Moreover, they may not have seen actual results yet, so they aren’t necessarily ready to recommend you.

Just remember that not all transactions show results right away, and more often than not with a professional service company, results will take some time. Often, it will take at least a day or two for clients to feel good about their whole experience of working with a doctor, dentist, architect, or lawyer. In a professional service field, it is usually best to ask for a referral when there has been some time between the service received and the referral request.

When a client compliments you on the quality of your work, this is a good time to ask for a referral. They’re already thinking good things about you, and you can ask them if there are others they know who could benefit from your work. Remember to keep it focused on the benefit for them and the people they know, rather than your own business.

However, there’s also no harm in explaining that it will help you build your business. Most people understand this and appreciate your honesty and transparency. If they’ve truly benefited from your work, then they’ll be quite happy to help you build your business further.

For more information on how to harness the power of the referral for your professional service business, check out the article titled, “Referral Marketing: Harnessing the Power of Word-of-Mouth to Grow Your Professional Service Company.”