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Rusty Skills Won’t Win the Gold: January Referral Selling Insights

Ready to hone your account based sales development skills?

With the 2018 Winter Olympics starting soon, we’re already hearing about the amazing athletes who will wow us next month. They’ll come from all over the world to compete in a myriad of events, but they all have one thing in common: They got where they are today because they invested in building their skills. It’s a shame more salespeople don’t make the same investment.

When I ask groups of salespeople, “Who wants to build referral skills and will agree to be accountable for results?”—not every hand goes up. Amazing, really. Those who do raise their hands are the high-performers. Why are they the only ones interested in building referral skills? Because they got where they are by investing in their professional development.

It’s important to look for your own learning opportunities and to invest in expanding your skill set—whether you’re training for an Olympic sport or honing your account based sales development skills.

Here are two options for you to learn, grow, and win Gold in 2018:

  • The B2B Sales Summit is a unique online opportunity to hear 28+ sales leaders share their perspectives on timely sales topics. (Yes, I’m one of them.) Several podcasts will be released on a daily basis, between February 6 and February 15. (My interview will launch on February 15.) Check it out here.
  • The Individual Referral Selling Masters Program is for you if you want to get meetings with decision-makers in one call and ensure only qualified leads are in your pipeline. You’ll close deals at an unprecedented rate—without ever cold calling. Check it out here.

In the meantime, check out this month’s blog posts from No More Cold Calling:

2 Reasons Your Account Based Sales Reps Leave

We used to hire account based sales reps, indoctrinate them with product knowledge and a smattering of business culture, and give them a few lead generation tools. Then we gave them a phone, a list, and, a desk, and expected them to figure out how to book meetings. They ended up cold calling. Frustrated, many of them left, and we started the process again. Clients tell me not much has changed, except that companies now give account based sales reps a desk, a computer, and a password. Yes, they still get a phone, which they rarely use, because most prospects and clients are never at their desks and only give their mobile numbers to salespeople they actually want to hear from. So, the default communication for account based sales reps is either social media or cold emails. Then sales leaders wonder why new salespeople struggle with account based sales development, fail to meet quota, and quit as soon as they can find another job. It’s not really that much of a headscratcher, now is it? (Read “2 Reasons Your Account Based Sales Reps Leave.”)

Why Asking for Referrals Isn’t All That Matters for Account Based Selling Teams

Let’s set the record straight: You can’t depend solely on referrals to fill your pipeline. Whoa, did I really say that? As you probably know by now, my point of view is that referral selling is the most powerful account based sales development strategy, and it’s the only effective use of salespeople’s time. So, it makes sense that people think I believe referrals are the only way to ensure qualified sales lead generation. To clarify: It is the #1 outbound prospecting method for account based selling teams. Outbound is the operative word. Your inbound sales lead generation strategies stay—blogs, webinars, podcasts, nurture marketing, website, eBooks, whitepapers, surveys, you name it. What changes is that your account based selling team commits to prospect by asking for referrals. What doesn’t stay is any cold outreach. That means contacting someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t expect to hear from you—and let’s be honest, probably doesn’t want to talk to you. (Read “Why Asking for Referrals Isn’t All That Matters for Account Based Selling Teams.”)

Message to Account Based Sales Teams: Your Humanity Is a Competitive Advantage

I’m not a robot. You’re not a robot. Neither are account based sales teams.  When they’re asking for referrals, they should never ask on social media or in any other digital format. If you want referrals, you need to bring your good old human self to the table. Most of my clients tell me they’re pissed (their words, not mine) when an account based sales rep sends a digital referral request and just assumes they’ll provide one. Many times, they barely know the salesperson, let alone have a clue about the business reason for the connection. Some things never change. People do business with people they know and trust. If you want to do business like a robot, go ahead. Just don’t expect referral introductions. For that, salespeople need to pick up the damn phone and have an actual conversation. (Read “Message to Account Based Sales Teams: Your Humanity Is a Competitive Advantage.”)

Don’t Slam the Door on Your Friends

As we begin the New Year, now is the perfect time to pay attention to what’s most important—the people in our lives. That means our clients and prospects, our families and friends, our colleagues. It’s time we remember the value of getting personal. Think about it this way: We don’t regret the text messages we don’t send or the work we don’t do. We regret the time we don’t spend with the people we love. So, put down the gadgets and really be with the people who matter. Focus on building relationships—in your personal and professional life—because connections are the key to success in both. Ready to prioritize relationships in 2018? Here’s where to start. (Read “Don’t Slam the Door on Your Friends.”)

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