Sourcing and Research

“Bridging” into Asking for Referrals

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For many salespeople, the most difficult part of the referral process is how to go from the actual sale into asking for referrals without coming across as nervous, abrupt, anxious or even desperate. Enter the “Referral Bridge.”

What is a bridge? Well, in the physical world, it’s simply a structure that transports a person from one safe piece of land to another. In this case, however, the Bridge is a phrase that will transport you from the safety of the sale and relationship you’ve built into the actual asking for referrals. This, without any feelings of discomfort, either by you or your potential referral source.

The “Bridge Phrase” I suggest using is:

“Anne, I’m in the process of expanding my referral business, and I find it’s helpful to partner with my clients and friends such as you. Could we take a few quick minutes to run past the names of some people I might also be able to help?”

Every aspect of this Bridge Phrase has a specific purpose.

#1 States Your Intent. It lets your referrals source know exactly what you’re looking to accomplish, and does so with polite posture.

#2 Gives Them “Buy-in.” It then includes this person in your mission by making them your “partner.” And, people who know, like and trust you, and desire to help you, want to feel some ownership in your success. Thus, “partner” is a very accurate and positive word.

#3 Assures Them This Won’t Take Up Too Much Time. By saying “A ‘few’ ‘quick’ ‘minutes’ to ‘run past’…” (note all the words in that phrase that imply quickness) you let your referral source know that you’re not going to take a lot of their time.

#4 Provides Security That They Have Nothing to Fear. And, by saying, “might” (i.e., “might also be able to help”) you’ve used a word that will relax them because it shows you don’t assume everyone will be interested. Thus, they won’t have to worry that you’ll ever come across to someone they refer you to in a way that is high-pressure or in any way less than totally appropriate.

Of course, depending upon your product, service, unique situation, and personal style, you’ll use some different words than above. But, use the basic principle and you’ll realize great success in terms of obtaining their agreement to provide referrals.

Now you can begin the actual process of asking, as discussed in this series of brief videos, that will draw out a potential gushing fountain of quality names.

Of course, the “Bridge Phrase” is not only for use when asking for referrals from someone with whom you’re already doing business. It can be utilized when speaking with anyone with whom you have a sufficient “know, like and trust” relationship, even if that person isn’t personally a prospect for your product.



Bob Burg shares information on topics vital to the success of today’s business person. He speaks for corporations and associations internationally, including fortune 500 companies, franchises, and numerous direct sales organizations.

Sharing the principles contained in his bestselling books, Bob has addressed audiences ranging in size from 50 to 16,000, sharing the platform with notables including today’s top thought leaders, broadcast personalities athletes and political leaders including cabinet secretaries and a former United States President.

His critically acclaimed book, Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales has sold over 200,000 copies and continues to be used as a training manual for top sales organizations throughout the world. His national bestseller, The Go-Giver has been heralded as a new business classic. It’s been translated into 18 languages and is his fourth book to top the 100,000 copies sold mark.

He and his coauthor, John David Mann recently released their newest book, Go-Givers Sell More, which takes the Five Laws contained in their previous book and relates them specifically to the selling process.

Bob is an advocate, supporter and defender of the free enterprise system and seeks to empower individuals and organizations to thrive and grow by putting its principles to work.

He also puts his networking and go-giver abilities to use for charities, being a former Palm Beach County/Brooks Brothers Leukemia Society Man of the Year for his fundraising efforts on their behalf. A lover of animals, he is a former member of the Board of Directors of Safe Harbor, which is the Humane Society of Jupiter, Florida.

To download Chapter One of his books and check out his blog, visit


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