Here’s what you might have missed last month from No More Cold Calling.
Wondering how to get leads? Not just smoke-and-mirror leads, but only qualified leads? Every sales rep asks that question, and surveys of sales leaders confirm that getting leads in the pipeline is their top challenge. It has been for years. But why? Reps have KPIs for cold calling, sending emails, and making connections on social media. Obviously, if these cold calling tactics worked, reps would get leads in the pipe. Yet, the pipe remains empty, except for more cold leads that rarely, if ever, pan out. Big problem.
Sales leaders have forgotten about their most powerful prospecting tool to get leads without cold calling: referral selling. Referrals offer the biggest competitive advantage of any sales tool out there, and yet most teams aren’t using referral selling as the primary prospecting method.
That’s why I produced my referral course on LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com—to transform the way all salespeople, business owners, and sales teams work. In this course, you’ll learn how to earn introductions to prime prospects, ask for referrals the right way, and leverage social media to widen your reach. The course includes worksheets to help you build out your referral process, as well as role-play scenarios (with actors) that demonstrate how referral requests play out in real face-to-face conversations.
Learn more about my new LinkedIn Learning course. Plus, check out my blog posts from this month:
How to Build Trust and Generate Leads with a Referral Program
Your lead generation tactics aren’t driving bottom line revenue. That’s a fact. I’ve just returned from three conferences, and the #1 challenge I heard sales pros repeat again and again was how to get leads in the pipe. Everyone complained that they didn’t have enough leads, or at least not enough qualified leads. Wait, wasn’t technology supposed to solve that problem? Despite the fact that most companies have marketing automation solutions, targeted outreach by SDRs, and intense social media strategies, account execs still aren’t making quota. According to an Insidesales.com study, as reported in Forbes, 58.4 percent of salespeople in the U.S. attain quota, and about 65 percent of sales reps in Europe do so. What sales leader would find these stats acceptable? It’s obvious that existing lead generation methods aren’t generating qualified leads. Why not? And how can a B2B referral program drive up those numbers? (Read “How to Build Trust and Generate Leads with a Referral Program.”)
Do You Know How the Telephone Works … or How to Prospect?
When we showed my 85-year-old aunt how to use a computer, she told us she still hadn’t figured out how the telephone worked, so don’t bother. She walked out of the room. End of conversation. She talked a lot about “back in the day” and reminisced about what life was like when she was younger. This wasn’t the first time she’d witnessed a changing world, and she knew that new wasn’t always better.
Were the “good old days” as wonderful as people say? Yes and no. Was it easier to do business? Absolutely. You left the office, came home, and enjoyed a meal and evening with your family. No work. No phone calls. Referrals and relationships were how to prospect. Deals were closed with a handshake. People valued both private and personal relationships. Trust was built because salespeople made time to build and nurture these relationships. What’s changed is technology. What hasn’t changed for top salespeople is their dedication to their clients and to relationship-building. Matt Heinz isn’t nearly as old as my aunt (or as old as I am, for that matter). Still, in a recent blog post, he makes the case for old ways of working. (Read “Do You Know How the Telephone Works … or How to Prospect?”)
Now You Can Learn How to Close More Business with Referrals!
It was time. Time to make my introductory referral program accessible to as many sales organizations as possible. I couldn’t decide on the best platform. Then a colleague suggested LinkedIn Learning, a new platform for online sales training. I checked out the platform and spoke with a colleague who’s already a LinkedIn Learning instructor. She agreed my course would be perfect. But I wasn’t going to complete an online application. Who knows how many of those they get? My outreach would have been just like cold calling. Maybe I’d get a response … maybe not. Instead, I used my referral process and contacted a close colleague at LinkedIn. He dug in and found the right person at LinkedIn Learning who introduced me to Sue, the person in charge. As the saying goes … the rest is history. It’s also yet another example of the power of referrals. (Read “Now You Can Learn How to Close More Business with Referrals!”)
How to Grow Your Referral Network
When is it time to toss the technology and start talking to people? When internet leads and a call script no longer reap new business. When it interferes with the most powerful tool in your toolbox—you. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of great sales technology out there, and it would be dumb for sales reps not to use it. But sales technology doesn’t close business. It doesn’t have meaningful conversations. It doesn’t demonstrate integrity, thoughtfulness, humility, or honesty. Building strong relationships and nurturing them does. It also enables you to get referrals. Without a strong network of people who trust you, you can forget about referral selling. It won’t work. (Read “How to Grow Your Referral Network.”)