get more referrals for my msp

Get More Referrals for My MSP

Carrie Richardson, Partner, Fox and Crow Group

Referrals are the lifeblood of many managed IT services providers (MSPs). When the referral stream dries up, it can be a significant hit to your business. Understanding the reasons behind this issue is crucial for maintaining a steady flow of new clients.


Referrals are often considered the highest quality leads for any business, including managed IT services providers. They typically come from satisfied customers who have experienced your services first-hand and are willing to vouch for you. However, there are times when these referrals stop coming in, leaving MSPs scratching their heads and wondering where they went wrong. To address this issue effectively, it’s essential to delve into the primary reasons behind this phenomenon and develop strategies to get more referrals for your MSP.

Understanding Referrals in the MSP Industry

Referrals in the managed IT services industry are particularly valuable because they come from trusted sources. Clients who refer others to your business essentially lend their credibility to your services. This trust is not easily built, and losing it can be detrimental to your business. Here are some fundamental aspects to understand about referrals in the MSP industry:

  1. Trust and Credibility: Referrals are a testament to your reliability and competence. When clients recommend you, they are putting their reputation on the line.
  2. High Conversion Rates: Referred clients are more likely to convert into paying customers because they come pre-qualified by a trusted source.
  3. Cost-Effective Marketing: Referrals save on marketing costs. Word-of-mouth advertising is free and often more effective than traditional marketing methods.

Key Factors Why Referrals Stop Coming In

Poor Service Delivery

Consistent Quality Matters

One of the primary reasons referrals dry up is poor service delivery. When clients receive subpar service, they are unlikely to recommend your MSP to others. Consistent quality is paramount in the managed IT services industry. Clients expect reliable, efficient, and proactive IT support. If your services fall short, it can quickly erode the trust you’ve built.

Real-World Impact

Consider this scenario: a client refers your MSP to their business associate. Initially, everything goes well, but over time, your service quality declines. The referred client experiences frequent IT issues, delayed response times, and inadequate support. Not only will this client stop referring others, but they might also share their negative experiences, further damaging your reputation.

Strategies to Improve Service Delivery

  • Regular Training: Ensure your team is continuously trained on the latest technologies and best practices.
  • Proactive Monitoring: Implement proactive monitoring tools to identify and resolve issues before they affect clients.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Establish robust feedback mechanisms to understand client pain points and address them promptly.

Lack of Reciprocity

The Principle of Reciprocity

Another crucial factor that can stop referrals is a lack of reciprocity. The principle of reciprocity in business suggests that when someone does something for you, you feel a natural obligation to return the favor. In the context of referrals, if clients feel that their goodwill is not reciprocated, they may be less inclined to refer others to your MSP.

Building Reciprocal Relationships

Building reciprocal relationships with your clients involves more than just providing excellent service. It means actively engaging with them, understanding their needs, and offering additional value. For instance, you could provide your clients with valuable resources, such as IT security tips, exclusive access to industry events, or even small tokens of appreciation.

Strategies to Foster Reciprocity

  • Client Appreciation Programs: Develop client appreciation programs to reward loyal clients and show them that their referrals are valued.
  • Exclusive Benefits: Offer exclusive benefits or discounts to clients who refer others to your MSP.
  • Personal Touch: Personalize your interactions with clients. A simple thank-you note or a phone call to express gratitude can go a long way in fostering goodwill.

Other Contributing Factors

Inadequate Follow-Up

Failing to follow up with referred clients can also be a significant barrier to obtaining more referrals. When a client refers someone to your MSP, they expect you to take prompt and professional action. If the referred client feels neglected or unimportant, it reflects poorly on both you and the original client who made the referral.

Poor Communication

Communication is another critical aspect. Clients need to feel informed and valued. If your communication is sporadic, unclear, or unresponsive, clients may hesitate to refer others. Clear, consistent, and professional communication builds trust and encourages referrals.

How to Get More Referrals for Your MSP

If you’re not sure how you should approach your MSP clients and other people in your business network to ask them for referrals, you may want to explore the Fox and Crow Group MSP Sales Process, which features an entire course dedicated to a step by step process for asking for referrals to make sure referrals are a predictable part of your sales process!

Provide Exceptional Service

The foundation of a strong referral network is exceptional service. Consistently delivering high-quality, reliable, and proactive IT support will naturally encourage clients to refer others.

Establish a Referral Program

Creating a structured referral program can incentivize clients to refer others. Make sure the program is easy to understand and offers valuable rewards.

Maintain Regular Communication

Keep in regular contact with your clients through newsletters, updates, and personalized messages. Regular communication keeps your MSP top-of-mind and reinforces your relationship with clients.

Ask for Referrals

Don’t be afraid to ask your satisfied clients for referrals. Often, clients are happy to refer others but need a gentle reminder or prompt.

Offer Value-Added Services

Provide value-added services or exclusive benefits to clients who refer others. This not only incentivizes referrals but also strengthens your relationship with existing clients.


Why have my referrals stopped coming in?

Referrals can stop for various reasons, including poor service delivery, lack of reciprocity, inadequate follow-up, poor communication, and the absence of a structured referral program. Addressing these issues can help revive your referral network.

How can I improve my service delivery?

Improving service delivery involves regular training for your team, implementing proactive monitoring tools, and establishing feedback mechanisms to address client concerns promptly.

What is the principle of reciprocity in business?

The principle of reciprocity suggests that when someone does something for you, you feel an obligation to return the favor. In the context of referrals, fostering reciprocal relationships with clients can encourage them to refer others to your MSP.

How can I build reciprocal relationships with my clients?

Building reciprocal relationships involves more than providing excellent service. Engage with your clients, understand their needs, offer additional value, and show appreciation for their referrals.

Why is communication important in obtaining referrals?

Clear, consistent, and professional communication builds trust with your clients. It ensures they feel informed and valued, making them more likely to refer others to your MSP.

Understanding why referrals stop coming in is crucial for maintaining a steady flow of new clients for your managed IT services business. Poor service delivery and lack of reciprocity are two key factors that can significantly impact your referral network. By addressing these issues and implementing strategies to improve service quality, build reciprocal relationships, and incentivize referrals, you can rejuvenate your referral pipeline and ensure sustained growth for your MSP.

Ready to Move Beyond Referrals as a Growth Strategy?

If you’re ready to move beyond referrals and add an outbound sales strategy to your MSP, Managed Sales Pros can help by providing you with the people and process needed to schedule sales meetings for your MSP.  Our team has over ten years of experience supporting MSPs, and MSPs that invest in our outbound sales appointment setting services see between a 200 and 1200% return on their investments over an 18 month period.

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