Social Selling Tips: Double Your Pipeline Using LinkedIn for Referrals

Learn how to use LinkedIn to make smarter referral requests from clients, with these social selling tips from Social Sales Link CEO Brynne Tillman.

August 10, 2015


Referrals are the lifeblood of a successful social selling outfit. It’s important to keep generating and following up on leads, of course. But referrals from satisfied clients can fill your pipeline and sustain you through a lead drought.

The problem is, most salespeople ask for referrals like this: “Ms. Satisfied Client, do you know anyone else who could use the services we provide?”

To which the client responds, “I can’t think of anyone right now, but if I do, I’ll let you know.” When you hear that, don’t hold your breath waiting for them to get back to you!

This approach is less effective because you’re asking the client to do all the work. You want them to go through their entire mental rolodex, find a likely candidate, and then make the introduction. While you may have an extremely devoted client or two who will do that much legwork, it’s a pretty big ask.

At Social Sales Link, we teach a three-step process that makes referrals effortless for the client. Before you go out on that client visit, do the following:

  1. Connect with your client on LinkedIn (really, the earlier you do this the better, but for sure do it now)
  2. Check out their contacts with Advanced Search
  3. Make a list of five prospects in their contacts that meet your criteria

Now you’re prepared to have a more productive conversation, like this:

You: Ms. Client, when we connected on LinkedIn I noticed a few folks in your network who would be great introductions for me. Would it be alright if I ran them by you?

Client: Of course, I would be happy to help!

You: Thank you for offering to make these introductions. You can just copy us both in an email and I’ll take it from there. To make it easier for you, would you like me to send a short introduction paragraph you can use?

Client: That would be helpful, thanks!

You: I’ll get that to you by the end of the day. And please let me know if there’s anyone in my network that I can introduce you to, as well.

With this approach, you’ve taken initiative, done the mental heavy lifting for your client, and made the referral as easy for them as sending an email. You are much more likely to get a referral this way than with the old, “if you think of anyone, let me know” method. If you use this approach with each satisfied client, you can double your pipeline!

For more tactical advice from social selling superheroes, download 33 Social Selling Tips by Social Selling Thought Leaders.

Editor’s Note: In this series, we feature quick and tactical social selling tips from thought leaders in the profession. This time, our guest is Brynne Tillman, CEO of Social Sales Link is sharing her personal tips to increase your pipeline.