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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales personnel'>Sales personnel</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Tips and techniques'>Tips and techniques</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Referrals'>Referrals</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Telephone selling'>Telephone selling</a>
Sales Strategy
Nov 12, 2009 | Jim Domanski lock

By now most tele-sales reps understand the benefits of asking for a referral. Referrals close at a higher rate and with a shorter sales cycle than any other type of lead. The reason is fairly obvious: a referral lends a degree of credibility and trust to the tele-sales rep.

So why is it that so few tele-sales reps ask for a referral? Apart from feeling too 'pushy' and aggressive, many tele-sales reps report that their success rate is low and the rejection rate (i.e., those who don't give a referral) is high.

Perhaps the problem is not asking for a referral but rather how you ask for it. In fact, there is a "right" way to ask for a referral and there is a 'not so right' way. The right way uses the power of questioning and directing the person's "thinking patterns." Rich in psychology, this technique will get you more referrals almost instantly.

The Not So Right Way

On the surface asking for a referral seems a simple enough process, "Hey Bob, do you know anyone who benefit from my services?" This will indeed garner you a few referrals from time to time but it is not the best way and here's why. Asking a person if they know 'anyone' makes it easy for them to say 'no.' It is easy because the sales rep hasn't directed the person's thought pattern to a specific area. 'Anyone' is vague and generalized. It is slippery enough for the person to squirm out of a firm answer.

The Right Way

The way you direct a person's thought pattern to a specific person is to re-structure the question. Here's what you say:

"Hey Bob, can you give me the name of someone who could benefit from my product/service?"

The operative word is "name." By asking for a name, the person automatically begins scanning his brain for specific names and people. When your client thinks of a "name" he is forced to think of a people he knows.

This is kind of like the old trick when someone says, "Don't think of a pink elephant." Automatically, everyone does because the question has led to the image. Thought not exactly the same, asking for a name tends to produce the same effect.

Increasing Your Odds of Success

Of course, you can influence your success beyond asking for a name. Timing is important. The best time to ask for a referral is when the client is brimming with satisfaction because of the benefits derived from your product or service. Strike while the iron is hot.

Asking for a referral is a powerful way to get more leads and convert more sales. By doing it the right way, you'll generate more revenues. Try it and see.

About the Author:
Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting and works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively. Author of four highly regarded books on tele-selling, Jim has provided training and consulting to audiences, universities, and clients through the US, Canada and Europe.

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