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May Referral Selling Insights

Here’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

It happened again … a salesperson asked me to connect on LinkedIn, promised he could help my business, and then wanted to know my definition of referral selling. Really? Referral selling is my brand, my mantra—you know, the sort of thing you look up before reaching out to prospects. Then he asked for my email address, which showed how clueless he was. It’s listed on my LinkedIn profile.

Sales is not about clicking buttons and adding a myriad of contacts to your profile. Sales is still about people buying from people, especially in account-based sales, where relationships are the key to land and expand within client enterprises.

Social media can help start conversations that lead to true connections, but only if you show up as a person. No automated invitations, no pitching, and no telling me you want to connect and then asking for my definition of referral selling. It shows you don’t care about me, so why should I care about you? You’re a stranger to me.

Wake-up call: Strangers on social media couldn’t care less about you, your product, or talking to you—unless you make it all about them, or better yet, have a referral introduction.

Tim Hughes, one of the world’s top social selling influencers, recently interviewed me on this very topic.

Coincidentally, I met Tim on social media. We exchanged ideas about sales online, and we met in person when I was in London. That’s when we cemented our relationship and became colleagues and friends.

Colleagues and friends—that’s the end goal of social selling and a smart way to start prospecting.

To learn more about the power of relationships and referrals, watch my interview with Tim and check out this month’s blog posts from No More Cold Calling, including a special guest post from Tim.

When Asking for Referrals Can Hurt Account-Based Sales

As comedic director Woody Allen once said, 80 percent of success is showing up. He was absolutely right on this point. Showing up matters, especially for account-based sales pros—whether it’s showing up in the right place at the right time, showing up to learn, or just showing up to connect. But showing up is more complicated than it was when Woody made that quip. Today, when looking for qualified sales leads, we must show up in person and online. Either way, the goals are the same for account-based sales reps—to develop connections and build relationships. The trick is knowing when digital communication is appropriate, and which interactions require in-person communication. Asking for referrals? That requires an actual conversation. (Read “When Asking for Referrals Can Hurt Account-Based Sales.”)

Why Account-Based Sales Pros Can’t Automate Relationship-Building

You’re hosting a dinner party at your home. You invite some close friends and ask them to bring guests you don’t know, so everyone can forge new relationships and expand their networks. On the night of the party, your first guest arrives with two friends. The doorbell rings again, and a flurry of guests arrive. You are so busy answering the door that you don’t greet people. You let them walk into your home without saying as much as “hello.” That’s not exactly the best first impression when you’re trying to build new relationships, is it? Account-based sales reps know better than to treat people that way in real life, so why treat people that way on social media? In this month’s guest post, Tim Hughes—author of Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers—discusses social selling offenses and how to rectify them. (Read “Why Account-Based Sales Pros Can’t Automate Relationship-Building.”)

#1 Way Account-Based Sales Reps Resolve the Gatekeeper Problem

If account-based sales reps want to reach C-suite prospects, the secret is calling at night or on weekends, when their gatekeepers are off duty. Seriously? This is just the latest stupid advice I’ve read about how to bypass the gatekeeper and get decision-makers on the phone. “Expert” tips like this send me out the door screaming. Sales is not a game, and executives aren’t playing hide and seek with your team. They are, however, unreachable to cold callers—thanks, in large part, to the assistants whose job is to protect their time. These so-called gatekeepers are not only used to salespeople trying to get past them; they know every trick in the book. Sales reps can try to make friends, discuss a compelling business reason, or even lie and say the executive asked them to call. No dice. Trying to get past the gatekeeper is a waste of time. The secret is to be an expected and welcome call. (Read “#1 Way Account-Based Sales Reps Resolve the Gatekeeper Problem.”)

Are Account-Based Sales Reps Motivated by Money?

The title of this post is a question—a seemingly ridiculous one. Of course, sales reps are motivated by money. Who isn’t? But that’s not all that matters to them. It matters that their clients get results. It matters that implementation is flawless. It matters that their clients provide referrals to their networks. More importantly, it matters that sales leaders invest in their professional development. And considering 71 percent of sales rep turnover is voluntary, these needs clearly aren’t being met. So, how do you retain account-based selling teams? According to new research from Xactly, you’ll need to invest both money and time in them. (Read “Are Account-Based Sales Reps Motivated by Money?”)

Test Your Referral Savvy

I’m conducting a study on referrals, and I need your help. Please take my 14-question Referral I.Q. Quiz. The questions are mostly “Yes/No,” and it should take less than four minutes to complete. Rest assured, it’s completely anonymous, with no forms to fill out.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be bounced over to a results page, where you can see the aggregated answers from everyone who has participated.

Take the Referral I.Q. Quiz now.

My goal is to get a 1,000-person sample, so please invite your network to take the quiz as well. Participation is anonymous, and I promise you won’t be added to any lists. Thanks in advance for your support!

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