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Asking for Referrals Is Darn Personal: December Referral Selling Insights

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

It’s been a year of awakening. No, this is not a movie. It’s real life. Finally, after two decades of working with CROs, sales VPs, and CEOs on referral selling, the conversation has shifted. Clients now ask: “How do I create a referral culture?”

I suppose this is the work I’ve always been doing, but I was reticent to use the term “culture.” I thought clients would view culture change as a long, complex, drawn-out, and expensive task. Sure, it can be. But salespeople who are early-adopters and agree to be accountable for results blow past their numbers.

The definition of culture I’ve adopted is, “Culture is what people do when no one is looking.” That says it all, and that’s the goal of a referral culture. Referrals become the way we work, not because we’re told to, but because we know it’s the most effective way to prospect.

Building a referral culture is a systematic three-step process that includes a Strategic Referral Plan, Developing Referral Skills, and Executing with Precision. That doesn’t sound too complicated, does it? Results are immediate, measurable, and sticky. Without sounding too “woo-woo,” it’s a transformation.

I’ve written a lot about referrals this year: why referrals scale, why they’re not a favor, why no digital referrals, and why you can’t just tell people to go ask for referrals. My referral course launched on LinkedIn Learning, so it’s accessible to everyone. I’ve also had people tell me I’m “old-school.” You bet I am. People, not technology, seal the deal.

Thank you for making 2018 a seminal year for me. A year to remember.

Learn more in my blog posts from this month:

How to Ask for a Referral Without Getting Embarrassed

When I interviewed Wes, senior vice president of sales for a well-known marketing automation company, I expected to hear all about the advantages of using his technology. Boy, was I wrong! Instead, he talked about the power of relationships for sales. “It’s not what you know,” he told me. “It’s who you know.” When Wes was considering a new vendor, he spoke to a fellow VP at another company—a friend with whom he regularly meets to bounce around ideas. The two of them trust each other and value the relationship, so Wes didn’t need to shop the market. He chose the vendor his friend recommended.

“Relationships like this are how deals get done,” said Wes. “When a trusted resource refers you to someone, you take the time to explore the option.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. If you haven’t figured out how to ask for a referral, here’s what you’re missing. (Read “How to Ask for a Referral Without Getting Embarrassed.”)

You Don’t Know Isaac, but I Won’t Forget Him

Whether you’re watching the news or perusing social media, you’ll see plenty of stories about people behaving badly, selfishly, or rudely. So, it’s always refreshing to be reminded that the world is also full of kind, compassionate people who go out of their way to help others, even strangers. Isaac is one of those people.

I met Isaac a few weeks ago when my sister came for a visit and stayed at the Omni Hotel, San Francisco. My daughter and I joined her for dinner at Bob’s restaurant in the hotel. (Great steakhouse, by the way.) We were already seated when my daughter rushed in. She was so excited to tell us what she had just witnessed. (Read “You Don’t Know Isaac, but I Won’t Forget Him.”)

Why Sales AI Won’t Replace Reps Anytime Soon

There’s a saying in B2B sales that people buy with emotion and justify with fact. It’s more than a saying; it’s a fact. Trust is a predominant factor in any buying decision. Two things being equal—and they never are—people buy from those they know, like, and trust. Unless a buyer likes and trusts you, you won’t get the deal. You won’t even get invited to sit at the table. But when you get referrals, the trust your prospects have with their colleagues is transferred to you. You’ve earned their trust before you ever show up.

Sales AI doesn’t have the same advantage. (Read “Why Sales AI Won’t Replace Reps Anytime Soon.”)

Put Your Damn Phone Away

Answer this question: What’s more important than the person sitting in front of you, walking beside you, sharing a meal with you, or sharing your bed? If actions speak louder than words, your phone is more important.

If you’re like the average American, the first thing you do when you sit down at a meal or a meeting is put your phone on the table. You walk down the street and look down at your phone. Bumping into people or objects doesn’t phase you. This is FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s technology addiction, and it has a negative impact on our ability to communicate, sleep well, concentrate, and really, really listen to the people around us. (Read “Put Your Damn Phone Away.”)

 

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