Sample Script for Approaching Referral Partners

Tool/Example by C.J. HaydenI frequently recommend to entrepreneurs that they focus their marketing on building referral partnerships instead of attracting clients by advertising and promotion or approaching them cold. With a few pointers, most entrepreneurs can identify many possible referral sources. But I’m often asked how to best go about approaching these potential partners.

To draft an effective phone call, letter, or email to a possible referral partner, keep these points in mind:

  1. The purpose of your contact is to begin a conversation that leads to an ongoing relationship. You will not be asking for referrals on the spot.
  2. The best potential partners will welcome your contact, because they will understand that it may also benefit them to get to know you.
  3. Referral partnerships do not necessarily have to be reciprocal. It’s okay to approach someone even if you might not be able to make referrals yourself.
  4. If you approach partners with an attitude of collegiality and reciprocity, they are likely to respond in kind.

Begin your approach with a one-sentence introduction of yourself that includes your name, professional specialty, and target market. Then state the reason for your contact. Here are some phrases you might use:

  • I believe you and I may share the same target market, and I’m wondering if we might be able to help each other make more connections with potential clients. Would you like to get together and talk about that?
  • I understand you work with [target market]. Those folks are my clients too, and I’d like to find out more about what you do to see if you could be a resource for some of the people I work with. Could we have coffee sometime soon?
  • I think you and I do similar work, but perhaps not for exactly the same market. I’d like to see if we might be able to refer each other clients now and then. Would you like to have lunch sometime?
  • I see that your organization serves [target market], and I’d like to find out more about what your clients need help with to see if I could serve as a resource. Would you have time for a phone conversation?

If you’re leaving a phone message or sending an email or letter, be sure to also give your website URL, or provide a link to your resume or LinkedIn profile. That way your potential partners can learn more about you and see why you might be a good person for them to know.

Not every one will be open to a conversation like this, and that’s okay. The people most likely to respond to your approach are also the ones who are usually most likely to make referrals in the future.

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