Problem: Most salespeople certainly don’t get enough referrals and often the referrals they do receive go nowhere. How many times have you called a referral, failed to get through to the gatekeeper, and left a message that never gets returned? Perhaps you’ve even gotten through to the referral, only to be met with a cool response? We all know that referrals are the best source of new business, by far, so why does this happen?
Analysis: First and foremost, salespeople don’t ask for enough referrals. There are several reasons for that. Sometimes it’s perceived as a “begging” activity, and few of us want to be seen as needy. The second reason is that they have experienced poor results in the past when calling referrals.
Here’s what often happens. The salesperson is thrilled just to get the name of a referral and sprints to the phone to make what amounts to another cold call. Often the referral hasn’t heard of the salesperson or her company or was simply doing the referring source a favor by saying, “Okay, tell her to call me.” Then he put it out of his mind.
Solution: Upgrade the quality of your referrals. Ask your referring source to do just a little extra work for you. When you get a referral, ask a couple of quick questions to upgrade the referral.
“Why do you think so-and-so would be interested in my product/service?” This will help you understand what the prospect’s pain is.
“Can I ask a favor? Would you feel comfortable calling so-and-so and telling him a little about my company and see if he’s even interested in talking to me?” 90% of the time the referring source will be glad to do this.
“Thanks. When can I call you to find out if so-and-so will talk to me?” This puts the ball in the referring source’s court to turn the “cold” call into a “warm” call. And the referring source, since he’s close to the prospect, usually will strongly urge the referral to take your call. If the referral doesn’t want to speak to you, you don’t have to make a cold call that is probably destined for a negative result anyway.
Now when you call the referral, he’s familiar with your name and is expecting your call. Here are a couple of questions to break the ice. “Mr. So-and-So, this is Mike Smith with ABC Company, does my name ring a bell?” His answer will tell you whether or not he remembered his conversation with the referring source. Next question: “What did Jeff tell you about me?” Or, “Why do you think Jeff wanted me to call you?” These questions will take all the pressure off you and get the prospect talking.
From there, based on his answers, begin to ask your qualifying questions and try to get an appointment if the pain is real and he wants to fix it. The bottom line is to get your referring source to do a little more work and your referral business will increase tremendously.