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Why Is It So Hard to Ask for a Referral? [February Referral Selling Insights]

It’s noisy out there. Getting meetings with decision-makers is a struggle, and we all look alike to our buyers. A referral introduction guarantees you score almost every meeting in one call, and you convert prospects to clients well more than 50 percent of the time.

Yet, unless yours is among the 5 percent of sales organizations that have built referral selling skills, set referral metrics, and made referrals the way you work every day, you’re missing out on your biggest competitive tool.

In most organizations, referrals are happenstance, because salespeople only occasionally think to ask for a referral. But quotas and KPIs aren’t happenstance. Prospects and clients aren’t happenstance. And your job shouldn’t be happenstance.

Pay attention. If you’re working too hard and still not getting the sales leads that you need, it’s time to change the game. My new Sales Gravy University course—”No More Cold Calling: How to Sell More with Referrals“—shows you exactly how to replace unproductive prospecting tactics with real-time referral results. This is the first time I’ve offered my complete program through Sales Gravy University, and I can’t wait to get started. Don’t miss this opportunity to invest in yourself. It’s just $499.00. We begin Tuesday, March 13, and meet once a week for eight weeks.

Click here for details and to register.  

Invite your friends and colleagues, and watch your sales soar! Questions? Call me at 415-461-8763 or email joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com. I know you’ll want to attend every session, but just in case an important client meeting comes up, you’ll receive the recording.

In the meantime, here’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

Learn How to Get the Gatekeeper on Your Side

Why is getting past the gatekeeper and finding qualified leads so challenging for salespeople? Because the process has gotten incredibly complicated, even though it can almost be a no-brainer. At most companies, the sales process is a balancing act that doesn’t always work so well. It starts with inbound leads: responding to leads from marketing, answering website inquiries, and following up with podcast and webinar attendees. Then there’s outbound lead generation: identifying trigger events, determining relevant content to send in an email, creating messaging, preparing short videos, and networking on social media. Layered on top of these activities are a myriad of sales enablement and social selling tools—all of which are intended to help salespeople with effective prospecting and, in turn, generating qualified sales leads. Simply put: There’s a lot coming at salespeople at once, and one thing standing in their way … or one person. The dreaded gatekeeper. (Read “Learn How to Get the Gatekeeper on Your Side.”)

The Shocking Secret to Make Asking for Referrals Easier

Does everyone know your ideal client profile? That’s the question I asked more than 500 sales pros. Only 25.31 percent answered yes. That means three-quarters of account based sales teams have failed to complete the first step in asking for referrals—making it clear who they want to meet. If people don’t know exactly who your team wants to meet, it’s really hard for them to refer you. That’s a shame, because every sales rep wants to learn effective methods of generating leads. Not any leads, but leads that are qualified. Referral introductions are as qualified as leads can get. The key to increasing revenue and achieving quota isn’t cramming the top of the funnel with as many prospects as possible—qualified or not. It’s an exercise in futility and wasted time. It stalls your process, and it isn’t how to generate leads. (Read “The Shocking Secret to Make Asking for Referrals Easier.”) 

Does Sales Lead Generation Really Require a College Degree?

We only hired college graduates, or so I thought. So, when the president of my company hired a Sales VP without a degree, I challenged him. He said that Craig, the new VP, had the sales leadership experience we needed, and that a degree, in this case, was irrelevant. It turns out the president was right. As the manager of a geographically diverse sales team, I reported directly to Craig. I learned more from him about sales lead generation and how to engage clients in a relationship than I’d learned from books and my own sales leadership experience. When we hear people say someone is “street smart,” we often surmise that they are undereducated, underachievers, and don’t have a very high I.Q. But I learned very quickly that street smarts trump academic smarts in most every business interaction. After all, experience is the best teacher of all. (Read “Does Sales Lead Generation Really Require a College Degree?”)

How Asking for Referrals Delivers the Customer Experience

Sometimes other people communicate our message better than we do. They add a twist, a new insight, different phrasing, and a unique perspective. That’s what happened last year when I spoke about how to ask for a referral at the Sales Masterminds Australasia event in Sydney, Australia. The room was packed with nearly 100 people who were curious about different approaches to prospecting. I suspect they were also curious what this American would say. One of the attendees was Brigid Archibald, commercial sales director at Salesforce. I was amazed and delighted when she wrote a blog post about my presentation. She brilliantly connects referral selling with the customer-centric sales reality. (Read “How Asking for Referrals Delivers the Customer Experience.”)

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