How To Create “Endless Chains” of Referrals

By: Dan Kennedy on: February 14th, 2017 9 Comments

The other day I ran across an article that offered advice for Valentine’s gifts. The author started by saying that most gifts come up short—either hollow or too cheesy. The article also talked about what husbands really wanted.

Before your mind goes off wandering in places it needn’t, it’s the same thing that is at the core of every business. It’s what we want from every client, customer or patient and it’s what you must strive to get from them to be a leader in your field with more business than you can handle.

I’ll reveal what it is shortly, but first I want to issue a challenge to you.

A challenge that has the power to transform your marketing, prospecting and presentations…and ultimately your business.

The challenge is based on something called “The Endless Chain of Referrals.” I first heard about it from Paul J. Meyer, a famously successful insurance company developer, who went on to create the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) who for decades have been a leading force in sales and success training and publishing.

Paul’s premise is that you never need to be without a good prospect as long as you have just one client, unless you are inept at trust.

In other words, every client should beget another.

I made this challenging concept a major part of my own business approach. In my own professional practice, I have over an 85% repeat/reoccurring patronage factor and nearly as high a referral rate.

2 million dollar clients (in fees and royalties) have been brought to me by other clients—not just told about me—brought to me.

This reveals how effective I am at creating and managing trust.

When a client brings a business peer of theirs to me, they know that person will be risking $100,000 or more on my advice and work-product, and if that person has an unsatisfactory experience, the client who brought him will hear about it. Endlessly.

This is a critical fact few marketers grasp. There is risk in referring. Even more risk in hand-delivering clients to you. Greater risk than there is in doing business with you.

The trust hurdle becomes increasingly more difficult as prospects ascend from buying from you to referring clients to bringing clients to you. In other words, it’s easier for a client to trust you enough to make a purchase from you, but it takes a higher level of trust in you for a client to refer someone to you through word of mouth. And yet an even higher level of trust for them to actually bring clients to you.

So my challenge to you is to look at your true statistics. How many “endless chains” do you have?

Building endless chains of referrals can transform your business. A copywriter I know was in the early stages of building her business. She received a call from a potentially career-turning-point prospect. We’re talking about the kind of client that makes you seem like an overnight success to onlookers and would easily add six figures to her bottom line, if not more.

The potential client told the copywriter that she had spoken to several business associates about who they used for copywriting projects. She proceeded to list an impressive list of well-known marketers in the copywriting and marketing world then she said, “But the recommendation I received for you was by far the best, so I called you first.”

That copywriter knew something about creating trust.

Acquiring new business is one of the toughest challenges businesses face. Asking the question “Where can I find clients?” is the wrong question to ask. The right question is “How can I construct a business persona and life so that clients seek me out, with trust in place in advance?” (In No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing, I discuss the ways to demonstrate trustworthiness to clients and offer a master checklist of trust triggers.)

Building chains of endless referrals brings you more and better clients to your door and helps you attract only those people who are interested in what you are selling. You must have trust in place to do this.

And by the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, the article I mentioned at the beginning suggested that what husbands really want is for you to trust him.

If you do not have clients bringing you good clients, customers, or patients, a number of which repeatedly bring you new ones, and endless chains of referrals emanating from clients, you won’t like this, but you are failing.

There’s something wrong. You are creating only enough trust to get customers, but you are NOT creating enough trust to multiply those customers. Don’t BS yourself. Statistics are reality. If they are harsh reality, do something about them.



Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

9 Responses

  1. Alvin Orzechowski says:

    I heard, Dan, that men want respect and that women want love. Can’t answer for women, but being a man I think that’s true.

    But your mileage may vary.

  2. Scott Martin says:

    Thank you, Dan, and it’s a good article about referrals.

    However, I’ve had clients I’m not really happy with and they refer me to potential clients who are not ideal.

    So it’s important to have the right clients first. With a ‘good fit’ that trust element pullulates.

    And there’s nothing wrong with generating referrals.

    A company just re-did my neighbor’s roof. Has the company contacted me? All they had to do was leave a door hanger costing $2 as the work was going on. But no…a missed opportunity.

  3. Dave Wheeler says:

    Great ideas. I will definitely sign up for the webinar. I must have run into 5-10 ideas for improving the referral aspects of my business in the past week alone. For example, Joe Stumpf’s picture was shared on my Facebook page after he completed the civilian version of the Navy Seal’s Hell Week training at age 54… and when I investigated to find out what he does, I found that he speaks about building referrals for businesses. I think the universe is trying to tell me I need to learn more about referrals ! Thanks for the lead about the webinar !
    Dave Wheeler

    • Tony Hilsden says:

      Where is the lead re the webinar guys ? Love to attend.

  4. Scott, you’re right about having the right clients in the first place. We all need to be strong enough to fire clients we’re not really happy with.

    I have one client whose contract won’t be renewed because they’re horrible to work with and I’ve turned down every single referral they’ve given me because they tell people that “Simon does websites”. They fight me every step of the way on getting testimonials, so don’t appreciate what I’ve been trying to do and hence use the single word they know when they talk about my services – “website”.

    Did the roofing company make you happy? Did they ask you for a testimonial?

    Testimonials and referrals go hand in hand, but few businesses have systemized the process. That’s what I really help my clients with – systemizing their testimonial collection and usage.

    • Tony Hilsden says:

      Interested to touch base or have access to some of your writings or blogs on your system and the topic Simon.

  5. Mike M says:

    Noteworthy point that it takes more trust to reffer (and even more to bring in) a client than it takes to actually do business with you, think it’s the first time I see this mentioned in fact.

  6. @Peter – Yes, you are correct.

  7. Hi Dave,

    I always learn something all the time as you’re only done when you are “6 Feet Under” then it all stops, lol.
    However, I have found that due to the political climate, one must work smarter and a bit harder to gain the trust and honesty factor. There is soooo much deception and lying and mis-information, that the public has put up an invisible wall to a lot of information coming out in the media. Our business is about connecting with the right qualified individuals and keep presenting the accurate picture about the market and where it is currently and where it is going.
    I write a weekly column for a paper with 100,000+ circulation, and I have built up a very sizable readership and they do fact check me, so i have to always be on my toes when providing information to the public. That has been some of my best connections and leads, bar none. I feel I am always giving and not taking, so what goes around, comes around. No million dollar Broker bragging, No, I love referrals on the back of my cards, just buidling rapport and realtionships, to hopefully last my life as a Realtor!

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