If you’ve started your life coaching business and have at least one client, you have the spark to generate a supply of new clients.
We’re talking about referrals!
When used strategically, a referral program can help you start a flywheel that propels your coaching business forward at no extra cost. Using your existing customers to find new ones is one of the best ways to find new business.
Keep reading to learn who to ask for a referral, how to ask for a referral in an email, and the steps for crafting an irresistible referral email.
What is a Referral?
A referral is when someone refers another person to your business. They reach out to someone in their network they feel could be a good fit for your life coaching programs and put you in touch.
If you’ve ever known a service provider in your local area who gets all their customers from word-of-mouth, that’s referral marketing in action.
Many businesses often encourage referrals by offering an incentive to those who refer others. This could be a discount or reward for sharing details about your business online via email or social media or in real life via word of mouth.
Some business owners will give their customers a referral link so that if anyone signs up using that link, the new customer can get a discount, and the loyal customer who refers you makes a small commission.
However, the most trustworthy referrals are those which aren’t incentivized and come from someone who genuinely and heartfeltly recommends your work. People who refer you because they had a great experience with you, are vouching for your quality, reliability, and expertise.
Why Are Referrals So Important for Life Coaches?
Referrals are one of the easiest ways to get coaching clients. They provide potential new customers with social proof that your methods work and that booking with you is worth their time.
They don’t only need to take your word for it but can listen to the experiences of happy customers who worked with you in the past.
All life coaches should implement referrals into their marketing strategy, regardless of experience — and here’s why.
1. Referrals Cost You Nothing
But the leads you get from referrals cost you nothing. It takes just a few minutes of your time to send a referral request email to an existing client to ask if they know anyone who may want coaching too.
All it costs is for you to do good work with your client to deserve their referral. And that’s already something you should be doing, so referrals don’t cost anything extra.
2. The Sales Process is Faster
How do you typically get clients to hire you for your coaching services? If you’re like most coaches, it’ll usually take several steps (and several weeks, if not months) for someone to go from a cold stranger to a paying client.
They’ll see something you posted on social media and decide to follow you or start watching your videos. If they get a good vibe from you, they’ll keep consuming your content until they feel ready to get on a free consultation call with you.
This process is long because — surprise, surprise — it takes a while to get to know someone! And if you’re going to pay someone to coach you, it’s important to have a foundation of trust.
People who come to you through referrals don’t know you. However, they do know that you’ve helped someone they know. It makes it easy to build a relationship with them right away as they heard you did great work with someone they know.
3. Higher Trust Leads to Higher Conversions
People tend to trust what their friends tell them. So, when a client refers someone to you, that person is more likely to trust you compared to a complete stranger, even if your life coaching prices are on the high side.
Their friend has already vouched for you. They’ve probably even heard their friend gush about the amazing results you’re helping them achieve.
At this point, they’re practically sold!
That’s why referral marketing generates conversion rates that are 3-5 times higher than other marketing channels. Those clients also have 37% higher retention rates and are 4 times more likely to refer more clients to you! They are far more likely to trust the recommendation from someone they know than they are to blindly trust the reviews they read on your website.
Imagine if you could get every single client to send a referral your way. You would hardly need to market yourself in other ways.
4. Referral Clients Are More Loyal
On average, 78% of people say that clients who come from referrals are more loyal than those they acquire through other channels. So not only is it easier to close them, but you’re likely to nurture a longer and better coaching relationship with them.
5. Referrals Expose Your Business to Your Target Audience
Why do your loyal customers bring you successful referrals? Because they are sharing your business with a very targeted audience. Referrals come from people with similar interests, backgrounds, or needs as the referred client.
This means your current clients are the perfect people to bring in new business, as their friends and family will be more likely to resonate with your offering as a coach. If they resonate with what you offer, it will be easier for you to build a long-lasting coaching relationship with them.
6. Referrals Expand Your Network
When you ask people to refer your coaching business, it helps expose you to a wider network of people.
Those who refer you may be well-connected in other industries and can introduce you to new opportunities, collaborations, or partnerships. This opens your doors to a wider pool of potential clients and professional connections.
7. Referrals Help Your Long-Term Growth
You want your business to grow, right? If you want a long future as a life coach, you need to figure out how to get a steady stream of clients.
Using a referral program that helps you grow your network can future-proof your client acquisition strategy. If you have enough people who want to refer you to their network, you’ll have a long waiting list of people who want to work with you in the future.
The organic growth that referrals can create can help you build a sustainable coaching business that has a long future.
8. Referrals Build Your Reputation
Gaining credibility in the life coaching industry can be difficult, especially with so much competition out there.
When you have lots of referrals, you build trust amongst future clients and prove that the services you provide are exceptional. When you consistently deliver great results, it will be a no-brainer that clients refer you to their friends and family. You won’t even need to ask them for those referrals!
Who to Ask for Referrals for Your Coaching Services
If you want to use referrals successfully, you will need to get good at maintaining relationships with existing customers, build a strong network of like-minded people and consistently deliver excellence with your coaching programs.
With a community of fellow coaches or coachees around you, asking for referrals should be a breeze. Remember, you can always reciprocate the favor for them.
Below are the best places to look for if you want to generate referrals for your life coaching services.
1. Existing Clients
Once you have established relationships with satisfied customers, your current happy clients are the most obvious place to look for referrals!
Your existing customer base who have positive results from your life coaching are in a good position to vouch for you. They’re also ideal candidates to ask for a testimonial.
Sending a personalized email asking them if they know anyone who could benefit from your coaching services is the perfect place to start.
2. Leads Who Didn’t Convert
Don’t get discouraged if you get on the phone with a potential coaching client and they’re not ready to work with you. That person may not be financially or emotionally ready to commit yet, even if they trust you. Or you may not have the exact coaching style that suits them.
That doesn’t mean they don’t know someone else who could benefit from your coaching. If you get a good vibe from the call, feel free to follow up in an email to ask if anyone knows anyone who would benefit from your coaching packages.
Yes, it’s scary to ask that of someone who has turned you down. But stepping out of your comfort zone from time to time is necessary to build a thriving life coaching business.
3. Friends and Family
Your relatives and close friends have friends you don’t know. And those friends have other friends.
While your current friends and family may not be the best fit for your coaching packages, they may know someone who is! But you won’t know unless you ask, so send that family member or friend your referral email and see what happens.
4. Your Professional Connections
If you already have a strong network or professional contacts, reaching out to them for referrals can be an effective way to expand your customer base.
Create a concise and compelling email explaining the type of clients you’re looking for and whether they know anybody who fits that criteria.
5. Your Partners or Collaborators
Do you have any partnerships with other coaches? Have you collaborated with others in your niche to help get your name out there? They could be the perfect people to request referrals from.
You could suggest a referral exchange where you refer new clients to each other. Send out a mutually beneficial email asking for referrals to both of your mailing lists. You could also give your collaborators referral links to share on their social media or website.
How to Ask For Referrals in an Email: 5 Things to Remember
A referral email is one of the easiest ways to start the referral process.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when asking your existing or previous clients for a referral via email.
1. Wait Until You’ve Established Rapport
Imagine you’re someone who wants to hire a coach. As soon as you sign the contract and make the first payment, you get asked to refer someone else.
Woah, back up a sec!
It’s better to wait until you have more rapport with your coaching client. It’s difficult to refer someone when you’ve just only paid for their services. At that point, the ball is in your court — they’ve put their trust in you, and you must return the favor by providing a stellar coaching experience.
Once they’ve begun to get some traction, you can start thinking about making that ask.
2. Choose a Good Time
At this point, you should be getting to know your client fairly well. So you’ll know what time of day they’re more likely to be checking their email.
Make sure you send your referral email at the right time for each client. You want to avoid other emails burying yours in the inbox.
Your subject line is also an important thing to consider, as you want your referral email to stand out in your client’s inbox. If you simply write “referral request” in the subject line, it may not sound interesting enough to warrant an opening. You want the subject line to be compelling and intriguing. You could ask a question, for example: “Can I ask you something?”.
3. Offer an Incentive
If you’re not sure someone will take you up on your referral email, make them a better offer! You can do this by offering an incentive if they refer someone to you who’s a good fit.
Over 50% of people are likely to give a referral if they receive an incentive, social recognition, or access to a loyalty program. Some examples of incentives if your loyal customers refer a friend can include:
- A commission if you close the sale with the person they refer
- A discount from the next coaching session they book
- A free coaching session
- Access to a resource that you’d normally sell
- Some merchandise or a free gift, such as a copy of your favorite book
Make your incentive conditional on closing the sale. This will encourage people to refer a high-quality lead to you instead of sending you everyone they know.
4. Keep Your Referral Email Short and Sweet
Your referral email should have a single purpose — asking for a referral.
This means you shouldn’t ask for a client referral while you’re also sending your client some homework or any other business communication. This can cause them to get distracted and forget about the favor you asked for.
Instead, send an email that’s specifically focused on the referral. Don’t make it too long — stay on message and be specific.
Tell them exactly what action you want them to take instead of rambling on and staying vague. To make your emails stand out, you can also add visuals like memes, emojis, or royalty-free icons that reinforce the message and encourage your client to take action.
5. Practice What You Preach
If you want to receive referrals for your coaching business, get into the habit of giving referrals.
You don’t have to give referrals specifically to the same client you’re asking. But by putting the right energy out there, you’ll invite others to do the same.
For instance, let’s say a website designer created your coaching website. If you’re happy with their work, make sure to send other coaches you know in their direction. This designer will be more likely to think of you if they get a client that would be a good fit for your coaching services.
Referral opportunities are always out there, and by giving others referrals, you could increase your chance of receiving new customers via referral.
11 Easy Steps for Writing a Great Referral Email
When you write a referral email, there are a few basic principles to keep in mind. Here are 11 steps for writing a winning referral email template that you can use time and time again (always with a little customization of course).
1. Don’t Skip the Subject Line
The subject line needs to be the most compelling part of your email. It should encourage your reader to open your referral request. Writing something generic in the subject line is a surefire way to get your email ignored.
Choose a subject line that creates intrigue and excitement. For example, you could ask a question or share a quote. If you aren’t super specific about the content of the email, your client will want to know more and open the message.
2. Start With a Warm Greeting
You aren’t writing a formal business letter; you know this person! Connect with them by writing a warm opening line. You want to create a positive tone right from the start.
Whether you mention a recent coaching session or something you know about your client’s personal life, be sure to make the message friendly.
3. Personalize the Message
Sending out a mass referral email won’t garner the response you want. If you want to get as many referrals as possible, make your email personal.
Of course, using a referral template email is absolutely fine; you’ll just need to make some edits to make it personal for each individual you send it to. Adding a human touch will make the email much more engaging.
4. Make the Process as Easy as Possible
If referring friends and family to your business is complicated, people won’t do it. It’s as simple as that.
Asking people to click several links, share codes, post on social media, or write an email to the person they want to refer could put people off sharing your contact details.
Think of a way that makes the referral process as easy as possible. This could include a button that shares your page directly with people the customer wants to refer, for example.
5. Highlight the Benefits
What’s in it for them? Make the benefits of referring someone clear from the offset. Use numbers and bullet points so the benefits stand out in the body of the email.
For example: Refer a friend and get 50% off your next coaching session.
6. Use a Clear Call to Action
Your call to action needs to be compelling; why should they take this action? How will it benefit them as well as you? Keep the CTA concise and clear. If you share several different calls to action, it could confuse your client and put them off taking it.
Keep it simple.
7. Keep it Concise and Engaging
Nobody has time to read a long-winded email requesting referrals. So keep it short and get straight to the point. Short, easy-to-skim paragraphs, simple language, bullet points, and images will all make the email easier to convey your message.
8. Show Gratitude
Thank your client for taking the time to read your email, and thank them in advance for referring your business to others. Showing how much their referral means to you boosts the chance they will take action.
9. Optimize Your Email for Mobile
Most people read their emails on mobile, so make sure your message is mobile-optimized if you want it to get the right attention. This should go without saying, but if you’re writing your email on a computer, you’ll want to make sure it looks good on a mobile too.
10. Proofread Your Message
Proofread your email for spelling mistakes and typos before sending it. You want your client to refer you for your incredible coaching services, not share the email with their friends because you made a laughable mistake.
11. Don’t Forget to Follow Up
If you don’t hear anything back, it’s perfectly fine to follow up. One or two gentle spaced-out reminders can do the trick. Just be careful not to overdo it as that could put your clients off..
Referral Email Template for Coaches
Struggling to write your referral email? Just copy and paste this email template and customize it for your unique client!
I’m so thrilled to hear you’re happy with the outcomes of [your coaching package] so far. I had a feeling you could get this far when we first talked.
Since you’re enjoying the experience, I’m wondering if you have any friends or colleagues who would benefit from [your coaching package] like you have? I’d love to help them [achieve the specific outcome of your coaching offer] in a similar way.
If that’s the case, please [specify your process].
Here’s what this referral email template can look like with a real-life example:
I’m so thrilled to hear you’re happy with the outcomes of the email marketing intensive so far. I had a feeling you would become a pro at email when we had that chat last month.
Since you’re enjoying the experience, I’m wondering if you have any friends or colleagues who would benefit from the email marketing intensive like you have? I’d love to help them increase their email sales in a similar way.
If that’s the case, could you introduce us via email?
Look forward to hearing from you.
Land More Coaching Clients With a Referral Email
Now you know who to ask for a referral — and you even have the perfect email referral template, it’s time to get started writing your email for referral requests.
Make it easier to manage referrals and every other part of your client communication with Paperbell.