Why Asking for Client Referrals Feels Like Climbing Everest?

Asking for a Referral

Did you know that despite over 90% of customers being willing to provide referrals, less than 10% of staff ask for them?  Referrals promise lucrative opportunities and valuable connections.  Historic data shows a striking fact:  referrals convert at a higher rate and generally offer more value than leads from other sources.

Despite their potential to turbocharge growth, soliciting referrals often evokes discomfort and hesitation among staff members.  Why do so many individuals shy away from asking clients to refer them, even when the benefits are undeniable?  Let’s unravel the layers of this reluctance and shed light on the psychological barriers that stand in the way.


The Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection is at the heart of the reluctance to ask for referrals. Your staff may worry that they are imposing on their clients by requesting a referral or risking damage to the existing relationship.  This fear of hearing a “no” can be paralyzing, leading individuals to avoid the ask altogether.


Lack of Confidence in Value Proposition

Another factor contributing to reluctance is a lack of confidence in one’s own value proposition. Your staff may doubt whether they have provided enough value to warrant a client referral.  This self-doubt can undermine their willingness to ask for referrals, as they fear being seen as presumptuous or undeserving.


The Perception of Being Pushy

Your staff is concerned about being pushy or “salesy” when requesting referrals. They fear making the request will tarnish the rapport they have worked so hard to build with their clients over the long journey together. This concern about appearing overly aggressive or self-serving can lead to avoidance of referral requests.


Cultural and Social Norms

Cultural and social norms also play a significant role in shaping attitudes towards referral solicitation. In some cultures, there may be an unwritten rule against asking for favors or promoting oneself, making asking for referrals feel taboo. Similarly, your staff may be influenced by social norms that discourage direct requests for assistance or endorsements.


The Power of Perception

Lastly, perceiving referrals as a transactional exchange rather than a genuine goodwill gesture can deter professionals from asking for them. Individuals may worry that requesting a referral reduces the relationship to a purely transactional level and will poorly impact their existing close relationship with that client.


Navigating the Path Forward

While the reluctance to ask for referrals is understandable, it’s essential to recognize that overcoming this barrier can unlock a world of opportunities. Professionals can overcome their hesitations by reframing the ask as an opportunity to deepen client relationships and provide further value.  Providing training and support to build confidence in the value proposition and offering guidance on effective referral solicitation techniques can also empower individuals to navigate this terrain with greater ease.


Understanding these barriers and reframing the referral ask as an opportunity for mutual benefit and relationship-building is important.  This will empower your staff to overcome their hesitations and unlock the immense potential of referrals for business growth and success.


Here are ten tips to help you train your staff effectively:


  • Educate on the Value of Referrals: Start by explaining the importance of referrals and how they contribute to business growth. Show examples of successful referral programs and their impact on similar businesses.
  • Role-playing Exercises: Conduct role-playing exercises where staff can practice asking for referrals in a safe and supportive environment. Provide feedback and encouragement to help them refine their approach.
  • Provide Scripts and Templates: Offer staff scripted language and templates they can use as a guide when asking for referrals. This can help alleviate anxiety and provide structure to the conversation.
  • Highlight Success Stories: Share success stories of colleagues or other businesses that have effectively utilized referrals. Hearing real-life examples can inspire staff and demonstrate the positive outcomes of referral solicitation.
  • Focus on Relationship Building: Emphasize the importance of building strong relationships with clients before asking for referrals. When clients feel valued and respected, they are more likely to be receptive to referral requests.
  • Offer Incentives: Consider implementing a referral incentive program to motivate staff and clients to participate. Offering rewards or discounts for successful referrals can make the process more appealing for everyone involved.
  • Encourage Active Listening: Train staff to actively listen to clients’ needs and concerns. By understanding clients’ challenges and goals, staff can identify opportunities where referrals may be appropriate.
  • Practice Positive Reinforcement: Recognize and celebrate staff members who successfully secure referrals. Positive reinforcement can boost morale and encourage continued efforts in asking for referrals.
  • Create a Supportive Culture: Foster a supportive and collaborative work environment where staff feel comfortable seeking advice and sharing experiences related to referral solicitation. Encourage teamwork and mutual support among colleagues.
  • Provide Ongoing Training and Feedback: Referral solicitation is a skill that can be honed over time. Offer ongoing training sessions and provide constructive feedback to help staff continuously improve their approach to asking for referrals.

Here are two email templates that you could share with your staff:


Sample Referral Letter from a surrogacy agency to an intended parent or surrogate
Sample Referral Letter from a surrogacy agency to an intended parent or surrogate


Referrals represent an untapped goldmine with immense potential to drive substantial growth for your agency while strengthening customer relationships. The true challenge isn’t persuading intended parents or surrogates to provide referrals but rather empowering your team to ask for them confidently. In today’s competitive surrogacy landscape and amidst rising marketing costs, mastering the art of soliciting referrals undoubtedly becomes a defining trait of a successful agency.


Leveraging a CRM system can enable the seamless automation of these referral requests through tailored workflows. Alternatively, task assignments can be created for each staff member, strategically timed at different stages of the pregnancy and post-delivery, facilitating personalized outreach to both intended parents and surrogates for referral solicitations. These strategies streamline the referral process, maximizing opportunities for business growth while maintaining personalized client engagement.


Author:  Karen Synesiou, Infertility Portal, Inc.

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