Have you ever looked at that salesperson on your team or in your industry who always seems to crush the competition? Have you wondered what makes them different? Why are their sales numbers so much higher than everyone else’s?
There are a probably a few answers, but I can guarantee one of the reasons is that they consistently get quality referrals from their customers. In my 30 plus years of coaching salespeople and sales teams, I’ve seen again and again that what separates high performers from those who are just getting by or who are struggling to make it to the next level, is the ability to get quality referrals.
At some point, they make an important transition. They build up enough trust and equity among their customers to start garnering referrals. Eventually, those referrals create more referrals, generating a foundation of recurring new business.
So how do you start generating referrals in your business? I have a few tips below. First, though, you should understand the two golden rules of obtaining referrals. First, you have to earn them. That means you must provide exceptional service to your customers so they feel comfortable or even enthusiastic about giving you a contact’s name. If you’re not providing exceptional service, you probably need to work on that before you start asking for referrals.
The second golden rule is that you must learn to get comfortable asking for referrals. While it may happen occasionally, few customers are going to proactively offer up the names of friends and associates without your direction. Asking for names is the price of success when it comes to referrals.
If you’re not comfortable asking for referrals, practice it, just like you would with a cold call, a sales presentation, or your closing discussion. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel when the time comes.
Here are four other tips for getting more referrals into your pipeline. Put them into practice and you’ll likely see more prospects in your pipeline in no time.
Set expectations from the beginning of the relationship.
Do you get a knot in your stomach when it’s time to ask for referrals? Are you worried about the customer’s reaction? Maybe that’s because deep down you know that they aren’t ready or prepared for the conversation. You’re catching them off guard, and that’s not a good thing.
There’s an easy way to resolve this. From the very beginning, establish the idea that you will be asking for referrals. That way, they’ll be prepared when you ask.
One way to do this is to solidify the conversation early on. For example, when your new customer signs a deal with you, let them know that in nine months you will be sitting down with them to review expectations and deliverables. Assuming you have delivered, you will be asking them for three referrals at that time.
Remind them again as the review meeting gets closer so they can have names available. By setting this expectation early and preparing them for the conversation, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to ask for names.
Use a template.
Sometimes using the word “referral” scares customers. They think they have to “sell” you or talk you up to their associates. They worry that the process could get time-intensive and that they’ll have to make calls on your behalf or join you and the referral at your first meeting.
In truth, all you’re probably looking for is an introduction. In person would be nice, but in many cases, email will suffice. So make it easy on your customer. Let them know that you have an email template for them to use and all they have to do is fill in the blanks and send to their referral, copying you in of course.
In fact, here’s a template I use that you can have:
buy Clomiphene pct [Referral],
buy modafinil no prescription I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve been working with [salesperson] at [salesperson’s company] for about [length of relationship]. [Salesperson] has been extremely valuable in helping us [service provided]. I know you face similar challenges, so I thought it may be helpful to introduce you.
[Referral], meet [salesperson]. [Salesperson], meet [referral].
Hope this is of value for you and the two of you can connect.
All the best,
There you go. In fact, if you know the referral’s name, you can fill in the blanks for the customer and just ask them to send it. If they value your service, they’ll gladly introduce you.
Be specific in your request.
Too often, salespeople make a general request for referrals, asking the customer to come up with names who would be a good fit. The problem with that is that your customer doesn’t know what you’re looking for. And also, if you’re asking your customer to come up with names, you’re putting a lot of the burden on them.
Here’s a better way. Go into your LinkedIn account. Up at the top, next to the search bar, you’ll see a link that says “Advanced.” Click on that to pull up a search screen. Here you’ll see a lot of different criteria that you can filter to search for prospects.
Find the box that says “2nd connections.” It’s in the area called “Relationships.” Check that box. Now all of your search results will be people with whom you share a connection.
You can see all of your connections’ associates, so you can pick out specific people with whom you want to connect. All you have to do then is reach out to your mutual connection and ask them to make the introduction, maybe even using the email template from the last tip.
Give them a referral.
Really want to spur your customer into action? The best way to get is to give. That’s true of many things in life, and the act of getting referrals is no exception. If you want a referral from your customer, take the lead and send them a referral first.
Don’t tell them in advance. Don’t ask if they want you to. Simply send a connecting email, much like the one above. If they value your service and the referral, they’ll likely respond in kind very soon. If they don’t send a referral your way, don’t sweat it. It might not happen with every customer.
However, if you lead by example, your customers will likely get the hint and start sending referrals your way.
If you need help obtaining referrals or filling your funnel with prospects, let’s talk about it. I’ve led and coached salespeople just like you for over 30 years and welcome the opportunity to discuss your business with you to develop an action plan to improve your results.
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