I speak to a lot of MSPs every day, and I’m always asked for advice on meeting new prospects. Finding new clients is one of the biggest challenges they all face. “Have you tried asking your existing clients for referrals?” is my stock answer. And for good reason—prospects referred to you by an existing client are four times more likely to buy than any other opportunities.

Here are a few of my tips on how to generate client referrals from existing clients.

Ask for client referrals after positive events

When’s the best time for you to ask for a referral from an existing client? It’s right after you’ve delighted them, and they’re feeling great about you!

If you’ve just delivered an excellent project for a client, or saved their bacon from an impending IT disaster, you can be pretty sure your client is going to be thinking highly of you. Instead of basking in the warm glow of their admiration, strike while the iron is hot and ask them for a referral to someone else they think you may be able to help.

After all, people love to talk about great experiences, and by giving your client the prompt to share their love, you can benefit from having a conversation with a new prospect who’s already heard great things about you.

But before you ask for that client referral from a happy client, consider how you can make it easy for your client to respond.

Make it easy for your client to refer you

Before you ask a client for a referral, make sure you’re clear on the type of referral you want. If you ask your client, “Do you know of anybody else I might help?” then you should expect the answer to “Let me think about that and get back to you.”

You need to help your client narrow down the type of business you want them to refer you to. A much better question would be, “Do you know any other engineering companies with 50 staff or so?” or “Do you have any friends who run accountancy businesses?”

These questions are specific and help your client get the right answer. Bonus points if you do some LinkedIn research and ask your clients if they know a specific company that you’d like a referral introduction!

Refer prospects to your clients

In the fantastic book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David-Mann, the authors teach us The Law of Influence—your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. These are creative ways to get referrals.

When was the last time you tried to make a referral to one of your existing clients to help their business grow? It’s much easier than you think.

Think about your existing MSP client base. Are there any of your clients who may make an exciting introduction to one of your other clients? Ask both parties if you can make that introduction. While you shouldn’t expect anything in return, it’s human nature to reciprocate. Don’t be at all surprised if the clients you’ve referred start suggesting referrals to you!

And at the very least, your client will know that you’re looking out for them beyond just being the IT guy. That can be powerful in itself.

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Start an MSP referral program

When I ran my MSP business, the above referral ideas worked for me. But I also asked other MSPs what referral ideas worked for them.

Over in the Tribal Community—The Tech Tribe’s online community for MSPs—MSP owner Steve Dempsey told me he’s recently begun sending a peanut butter cup package to clients that send him referrals. It costs him about $35, and he includes a note that says “Thanks for the referral.”

Steve sends gifts out whether he wins the business for the referral or not—it’s the gesture he wants to reward. Or as Steve says, “Given our business, I can send out 20 of those [thank you packages], get one client and get instant ROI. No brainer.”

Fellow Tech Triber Dan Baird of Montreal-based MSP Paronubi says he always writes the referral message out for his clients, then he leaves it up to the client to decide if they want to use that wording or something of their own in an email introduction.

“Most people are too busy to write something, and it saves them having to get creative,” says Baird.

Finally, Tech Tribe founder, Nigel Moore recommends using thank-you videos. I’ve received one of Nigel’s personalized thank-you videos, and it’s remarkable how powerful a short video can be in pushing me towards client referrals!

Could you be recording a short video message to your prospects to say thank you for any referrals they send your way? Could you send a short video to ask for a referral? So few people use video that this approach can come across as extra personal—and unique.


Every MSP business wants client referrals to grow, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cold call or email people who’ve never heard of you or your business. Who are you going to ask for a referral today?

Richard Tubb

About Richard Tubb

Richard Tubb is the author of The IT Business Owners Survival Guide and writer of an award-winning blog aimed at putting IT consultants back in control. You can find Richard on Twitter at @tubblog.


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