How to Ask for a Customer Reference (and actually get one)


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People just don’t trust salespeople sometimes. Thanks to media portrayals and resulting stereotypes, we can be seen as money-grubbing slimeballs. So, when you tell a prospect who has this mindset about how useful your product is and how it will solve all of their problems, they aren’t always going to be on-board. But, if you can give them proof of a customer that wasn’t swindled out of all their money while you cackled maniacally in your supervillan-esque hideout, they’re much more likely to believe what you say. (Having a product as great as Spiro’s sales automation CRM usually helps, too)

Getting a customer reference can be a risky venture if you don’t know what you are doing. After all, you don’t want to add more to your customer’s plate or inconvenience them in any way. But, play your cards right and you could end up with a new customer, and even improve your existing relationship with your reference!

Here’s how to do just that.

Choose Wisely

Pick a customer who has had a great experience with your product overall. They need to be willing to go the extra mile for you. Plus, they should be a longtime customer whom you have a strong relationship with. Lastly, it is important that these customers are somewhat similar to one-another, especially in their use case.

Additionally, this person should have a few key traits. They should be likeable- after all, their image is going to be reflected heavily onto your product. Also, they don’t need to be a Jordan-Belfort-level speech-maker, but they should have some solid communication skills.

Don’t Be Weird

A lot of salespeople feel uncomfortable asking a paying customer to act as a reference. But, there’s a lot in it for the customer too. So, don’t be weird about asking.

Many customers really do enjoy giving references. They get special treatment from your company, and the opportunity to feel important (and who doesn’t love that!). They also increase their networking opportunities, both within and outside of your company. Lastly, they have the opportunity to tell the other person about their business and what they do. It can be a great promotional opportunity for them.

Provide Some Incentives

While hopefully your customer is willing to give a reference out of the goodness of their heart and their undying love for your product, you should still give them something in return to acknowledge their help.

For example, if you have a product that operates on a monthly subscription, you could give them a month or two for free as a thank-you. Or, you could provide them with a gift card of some sort. It’s not necessarily the value of this incentive that matters, but rather showing that you value your customer’s time.


Hopefully by now I’ve convinced you that asking for a reference isn’t some huge imposition you are placing upon your customer. Rather, it is a great opportunity for both parties involved. Make sure to treat it as such, and you’ll have plenty of enthusiastic references!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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