Referral selling is a simple concept that means a salesperson received an introduction to a new prospect through an existing contact. Even so, it’s something that salespeople often overlook when considering how to widen their prospect base and increase their sales. The reason they’re not getting referrals is because they’re not asking for them.
A customer who is willing to give an approval sends a clear message that he or she is satisfied with the salesperson’s products and the working relationship the two of them have built. The satisfaction level is so high that the customer feels someone else he or she knows could benefit from the same products or services. It’s an easy way to build fast credibility with the new prospect before ever speaking or visiting for the first time.
Ask for Referrals Face-to-Face or on the Phone
An email, social media account, or even LinkedIn is not the place to ask a current customer for a referral. One reason is that it can come across as desperate or insincere and the last thing salespeople want to do is annoy their current customers. Asking for a referral is personal and it requires adequate time for the two parties to discuss.
The first thing sales professionals should find out is how well the customer knows the prospect and for tips on how to approach him or her. The conversation should include whether the current customer feels the salesperson could effectively meet a need of the prospect.
A Referral Plan Should Be Measurable
When done correctly, referrals can make up the bulk of a salesperson’s business. That means that sales managers must have metrics in place to determine the steps involved in obtaining referrals and measuring the effectiveness of the approach. Sales organizations that hope to grow consistently should make referral selling a priority and part of the daily expectation for representatives.
Referral Requests Must Be Specific
Salespeople sometimes feel that asking for referrals is ineffective because they go about it the wrong way. They make general statements such as “Let me know if someone else in your network could benefit from my services.” This is similar to the statement of “Let me know if I can do anything” when another person experiences a death or health crisis. The intention is there but the delivery is wrong. Both unfairly put the burden on the other person when it should lie with the person making the statement.
Instead, salespeople should already have a clear idea of who they would like to meet via a customer introduction. They should ask their customer about one person in particular and whether he or she would be willing to help facilitate the meeting.
In other words, they need to change the way they ask from offering a vague suggestion to confidently stating what they want and asking the other party to help them attain it. It requires a solid relationship and the realization that the customer is staking his or her own reputation to help the salesperson. This should not go unacknowledged or unappreciated.
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