Every salesperson has heard that referrals are by far the best prospecting and marketing method in existence. Yet, very few salespeople actually get very many high quality referrals.
Some manage to get a name and phone number here and another there. A few will manage to get several. However, most of these “referrals” are worthless--just names and phone numbers of people or businesses that have no interest in or need for or can’t afford the salesperson’s product or service.
Nevertheless, there are a few salespeople and business owners who have found a way to not only generate more than just a few referrals, but somehow they manage to generate enough high quality referrals to run very successful sales practices almost exclusively from the referrals they receive from their clients.
Do they have some great secret the rest of us don’t know?
Actually, in a sense, yes. They’ve learned that what most of us are doing to get referrals doesn’t work. Moreover, they have learned ways that do work.
Let’s look at seven of the most basic things these mega-referral producers have learned:
1. Ask for referrals: Sounds stupid right? If you don’t ask, how do you expect to get them? Unfortunately, over 50% of salespeople simply never ask.
2. Really Ask: Asking means a direct request for referrals. Studies have also shown that the majority of salespeople and business owners who ask for referrals don’t really ask--they suggest. They’ll say something like “Don, if you happen to run across someone who could use my service, would you give them one of my cards?” and then they hand the client a bunch of cards—that usually go straight into the trash.
3. Ask more than once: Statistics show that if you ask for referrals twice, you’ll get twice as many as if you only ask once.
4. Let the client know who’s a good referral: Very few salespeople ever define for the client who a good referral is. They assume the client knows. Bad assumption. Clients aren’t in your business. Why should they know? You have to let them know exactly who you’re looking for.
5. Help them: Make some suggestions as to people whom they might know. If you’re selling insurance and your client builds homes, whom do you think they might know? Tons of contractors, realtors, vendors and suppliers, that’s who. Suggest some of those folks you know you’d like to be referred to—they just might know them.
6. Give them time to think: Don’t ask for referrals and stand there waiting for an answer. When you put your client on the spot like that, they aren’t going to come up with a ton of great referrals. Ask and then let them know exactly when you’ll get back to them to get the referrals. They need time to think and 10 or 15 seconds won’t cut it if you want quality referrals.
7. Don’t get names and phone numbers, get introduced. A name and phone number is just a name and phone number. Get introduced to the prospect through an introduction letter, phone call, or lunch meeting.
Mega-referral producers have a detailed process they use to generate a large number of high quality referrals from every one of their clients and even prospects. They have developed a disciplined and effective procedure they use with each client that leads to a predictable end—receiving a large number of high quality referrals.
But even without learning the process they use, if you simply implement these 7 simple tips, you’ll increase both the number and quality of the referrals you receive from your clients immediately.
About the Author
Paul McCord is the author of Creating a Million-Dollar-a-Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals, and The Extraordinary Sales Manager and Planning YOUR Success, both to be released in late summer 2007, as well as numerous articles.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.
6 Ways to Generate New Quality Leads in a Saturated Market
7 Questions to Improve Your Sales Strategy