Problem: One of the measures of successful salespeople is the number of referrals they get from customers and others. But most salespeople do not get nearly enough referrals to keep them out of the cold calling business. The sad truth is that they don’t ask for referrals, and prospects normally don’t go out of their way to provide referrals to salespeople that don’t ask.
Analysis: Like other aspects of selling you have to work at cultivating your referral sources. People who refer business to you need to be recognized for their efforts. After all, they have gone out of their way to help you become more successful. There is a time-tested principle that states, “An unrecognized behavior does not get repeated.”
Solution: To cultivate your referral sources, here are some ideas:
- Your top tier customers want to help you so ask for their help. You can say something like, “Bill, as you are aware, I’ve helped you grow your business and I need your help in growing mine. Who do you know that would appreciate the same level of service and expertise I provide you?” One of the keys to making this work is to ask them each time you see them.
- Grow a Referral Tree. (Click here to download.) Start at the base of the tree with your first referral. Add the one that your receive from them, then add the one you received from that one and so on. The key to making this work is to go back down your tree and thank everyone, not just the one who gave you the referral. People want to see you succeed. This way you are reinforcing the behavior of giving your referrals.
- Keep them informed of your progress (as long as it is not confidential) until you close the sale or close the file.
- Make a point to refer business back if you can.
- Meet with the referring source and create a mutually beneficial plan to help each other. Not all referral relationships are balanced, so think of other ways to make it a win-win.
- Hold social events that include your best referral sources and prospects.
- Keep referral sources connected through your blogs or company communications.
Why should you do all this? Unless you love cold calling, it’s the best way to grow your business.