Selling is an important part of a small business. But the best way to grow a business is by getting new business without the hard sell. Your business can accomplish growth without a hard sale through referrals.

A referral is a potential client or customer who is directed to a business by someone who knows that business through experience or reputation. Customer referrals are one of the keys to growing a small business, but they can feel out of reach. Use the tips below to improve your customer referral batting average.

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Deliver. The first rule of generating client or customer referrals is, quite simply, to provide a great product or service to your existing clients or customers. That way, the customer is satisfied and likely to recommend your services to friends.

Actively ask for referrals. Spontaneous word-of-mouth is good, but having a system for asking for referrals is better. Typically, the referral is asked for after the product has been provided or the service has been rendered. Make the system an integral part of the business operation.

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Use electronic media. Business websites, email, social media (Facebook, Twitter) and business media (Linkedin) are ways to maximize the ability of a business to reach potential clients or customers. Ask for referrals in email outreach or put requests for referrals on social media.

Make contact quickly. You can’t have control over when referrals turn up. If someone contacts your business, it is essential to respond promptly. If you wait too long, the potential customer may get the impression the business is not really interested in their business.

Armand Colson is a freelance writer. His work can be found on

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