What’s your favorite kind of sales call?
Do you enjoy hounding total strangers who act too busy to listen to a single word you say?
Or do you prefer to connect with prospects who genuinely want to learn more about how you can help them?
One of the biggest challenges in professional B2B sales is reaching busy decision makers. They rarely agree to take sales calls. And even when they do, their attention spans are short.
The best salespeople know that a hot introduction is similar to skipping the first date. It allows you to fast-forward past all of the awkward, uncomfortable moments and start from a place of mutual trust.
That’s why referrals are so effective – and why top performers make it a priority to build up a steady stream of personal introductions.
Referrals convert to customers 50 percent to 70 percent of the time. No other sales or marketing strategy comes close to matching this incredible success rate.
But, sadly, most sales teams don’t have a system for finding referrals and following up in a natural way. So a lot of reps struggle, while the “lucky few” who have mastered referral selling consistently close more deals with less stress.
It’s not magic. Anybody can learn to turn hot introductions into happy customers.
Joanne Black, America’s leading authority on referral selling, shared some proven sales tips in a presentation at Dreamforce 2014, “Harness the Power of Referrals to Pack Your Pipeline.” This article contains highlights from her presentation.
- Make referrals a priority.
If you want referrals to become your major outreach, then that is what you need to focus on. But it doesn’t negate any of your other sales and marketing strategies. You still have your CRM and marketing automation. As a salesperson, part of your job is to generate your own qualified leads. Referrals get integrated into the sales process.
Referrals aren’t outside the way you work; they become the way you work. Network. Ask people how you can help them. Proactively request referrals. Let people know who they should introduce you to and why. Highlight the business impact.
- Build metrics around referrals.
Some sales leaders think referrals are nice to have, but they can’t measure them because they are squishy. You can measure referrals, as long as you understand that they take time to develop.
Here are six key metrics:
- Number of people you ask for referrals each week.
- Number of referrals you receive.
- Number of referral meetings you schedule.
- Number of meetings you conduct.
- Conversion rates.
- Value of each referral.
- Reinforce behaviors, not activities.
Referral selling doesn’t just happen – it requires a behavior change. Some people don’t feel comfortable asking or they ask in dumb ways.
So how do you get past that?
Practice and build solid skills. Like anything else, you have to practice referral selling and be accountable. Why do we have a trainer at the gym? All the equipment is there. All we have to do is use it. We hire a trainer for reinforcement and accountability.
Implement your referral selling strategy. Sales leaders must coach their teams and hold them accountable. Ask questions like, “Who are you going to ask for referrals this week and what are the conversations you are going to have with them?”
Joanne’s proven process will help you quickly establish trust with your buyers and crush your quotas. You can learn more about referral selling in her bestselling book, “No More Cold Calling.”