How type 2 referrals can increase your print sales by 25%

Posted by Matthew Parker

How many people are you connected to on LinkedIn?

The answer may not be as straightforward as you think.  I am highly networked on LinkedIn.  I have 1,430 connections.  But what is much more interesting is what is known as my second level network.  This network consists of people to whom my connections are directly connected.  According to LinkedIn I have 335,100 of these connections.

That’s 1/3rd of a million people to whom my connections could introduce me.  Suddenly it seems that I could know a lot of people.  And that’s a lot of potential prospects.

Naturally, not everyone uses LinkedIn (although, in my opinion, you should).  But this theory applies to people you know in real life as well.  How many people do your business contacts know?

How many of those people might be interested in buying print from you?

Referrals are a great way to increase your print sales

The answer to that question is precisely why you should be asking your business network for referrals.  Print sales people who use referrals will achieve higher sales.  And that’s because they will be in control of a healthy sales pipeline.  And their prospects will be much warmer as well, because they will have been introduced.  So there’s a much better chance of creating a great relationship with them.

Printers who ignore referrals won’t create as many great relationships.  They will be relying on cold calling and similar sales methods.  So they won’t receive the same level of warm leads.  They won’t have the same control over their sales pipeline.  And they are unlikely to achieve the same level of sales.

Does simply asking your clients for referral result in great sales?

The answer to this should be yes.  But often it’s no.  And that’s because print sales people need to ask for referrals in the right way.  Many people just give you a name.  And that’s only one step away from a cold call.  It’s not enough to achieve the right sales results.

There are three types of referral.  And you need to ask for the right one in order to get the right results.  Here’s the first type of referral.

Type 1 referral:  Your contact gives you a name

This is the type of referral that I have just mentioned.  Your contact gives you a name.  But you are then faced with the task of contacting that name and introducing yourself.  You’ll still have to make a full cold sales pitch to that name.  And maybe they’ll be interested.  But maybe they won’t.

Mentioning your contact’s name may be enough to get you a conversation or a meeting.  But even that is not guaranteed.

So let’s discuss the next type of referral.

Type 2 referral:  Your contact gives you a full e-mail introduction

This is a much better type of referral.  Your contact will create an e-mail with a full introduction.  It should go to both you and the person to whom you are being referred.  And it will have everyone’s contact details.

When you introduce yourself you can simply remind your referral name to the e-mail if they don’t recognise you.

In an ideal world, your contact will also check that it is acceptable to refer you.  So any call you make will be to a warm lead.

Some contacts can go one stage further

Type 3 referral:  Your contact hosts a meeting

Some contacts will even go so far as to host a meeting or a lunch with you and the person to whom they are referring to.  Then you are guaranteed at least 30 minutes of time with your new introduction.  This can be very powerful if it is a specific persona that you want to meet.

However, sometimes you or the introduction will decide that the discussion is not worth taking further.  And then you are faced with wasted time sitting with someone with whom you won’t be doing business.  So the hosted meeting is a referral method that should be used extremely sparingly.

So now you know the three types of referral.  But what happens if your contact doesn’t?

How do you get your contact to give you the right sort of referral?

Tell your clients the sort of referral that you would like.  Ask them for an e-mail introduction.  Suggest that they talk it over with their connection first.

You should also consider telling your contact the sort of person that you would like to be referred to.  So you may be looking for a specific market sector.  Or a specific type of business.  Or even a specific name.

Some people get worried that their contacts won’t want to be asked these sorts of questions.

Won’t your contact give you a name to get rid of you?

This can only happen if you are receiving a type 1 referral.  And even then, it is unlikely to happen.  After all, your contact won’t want to annoy their network by giving unwanted introductions

There is really no reason not to ask your contacts for referrals.

Here are three action points to get you started

  1. Highlight five contacts
  2. Ask them if they can give you a referral
  3. Tell them the sort of person that you want to meet.  And tell them how you would like them to refer you

You’ll be surprised at the difference that this will make to your print sales

Over 25% of my business comes from people to whom I have had a referral.  I use my real life second level network to bring me business.

And, by the way, consider using exactly the same system on LinkedIn.  See how many of your LinkedIn second level network you might be introduced to
P.S.  Do you want more ideas on how to improve relations with your print customers?  Then you should subscribe to the Profitable Print Relationships newsletter.  You’ll also receive our free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”.  So sign up right now at


5 Responses to How type 2 referrals can increase your print sales by 25%

  • Pingback: Utilize Type 2 Referrals to Increase Sales - Printing Hub

  • Constantin Tudoran says:

    This type of approach, in my experience, might fail more times than work. Let me detail a bit. I’ve been working in the printing industry for over 30 years now. I have not been directly involved in sales, but as a technical or production manager have been quite close to it most of the time. A customer will choose you if you are a “good” printer. That is you deliver quality, in time, at the best price he expects and you do that constantly. All the time, that is, regardless of the difficulty of the job or the diminutive time frame you have to complete it. Therefore, for a customer, a printer is an asset. One does not give away assets. Furthermore, another print buyer is as a rule, your customer’s competitor. Now, first of all, there would not be much of a communication between them, other than occasional chatter at the trade fairs and second, even if there was such communication, you could hardly imagine a customer telling his competitor: “I work with this print company. They have great prices and will deliver in almost any time frame you can imagine. I recommend them to you.” That’s because he would not want to give his competitor “an edge” or let loose of his. Furthermore, his competitor would in no way come to you, as he will most likely believe that “the competition” has given him the address of the worst printer in the business, just so they can loose more easily. This is my personal opinion. I’ve seen that happening time and time again. Competition is so harsh, that the practice of “planting spies” is becoming more and more usual. You hire a person, but without your knowledge he’s already working for the competition and will “siphon” all he can to them and then vanish into thin air one beautiful spring morning… I’ve seen that happening. The worst part is that you don’t even know who the competitor was…

    • Matthew Parker says:

      Hello Constantin – thanks for your comments. I think that what you say is true if you are aiming at print management companies and agencies. But for many other companies, they are happy to share their experiences. When I worked in publishing I would have a very open dialogue with other print buyers.


  • fasola odifa says:

    I totally agree with the article,i have been in business for over 20years as a private owner,and i can categorically say that i have only been able to expand my client base through REFERRAL,my good job has always done the job of salesmanship for me,and whoever i meet trough referral always feel comfortable and kind of know what to expect.
    Basically i have had more client through referral than those who walk in trough the door.
    I have always said this to people, {THE BEST FORM OF ADVERT IS A GOOD SERVICES} i totally stand by this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Improve print sales
Free E Book

Download "Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them" (worth £19/$29) absolutely free and receive practical articles as well.

Sell with social media

Download this practical guide (worth £19/$29) absolutely free and receive regular "Views From The Buyer" - including tips, case studies and great stories (Click the cover to download)