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Your #1 Untapped Referral

It’s not just who you know, it’s who your clients know. If you don’t ask your clients to refer you, you miss your most critical business-development activity. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s not.

Everyone Is a Part of Your Sales Team

If you don’t include your current clients in your referral-sales team, you leave money on the table—every single day. If you ask them, they will refer you. But, you must ask.

Get upfront and honest with yourself. Ask (and answer) the two most important sales prospecting questions:

  1. How many client relationships do I have? (Translation: How many people do I know in all of my current and former client organizations?)
  2. With how many of these clients do I have great relationships? (Criteria for “great”: They return my calls.)

Savvy sales professionals have at least 100 client contacts. If just 20 percent offered you referrals, you’d have 20 amazing new contacts. Once you actively cultivate them, they become part of your “sales team.” Can you see where this leads, and how much business you could generate?

Take a few minutes and imagine your new sales life when you talk to prospects who want to talk to you. When you receive a referral introduction, you:

  • Are pre-sold (They know you and the results you deliver.)
  • Have already earned trust (One of the hardest things for salespeople to gain.)
  • Gain instant credibility (They know you’re not just there to “sell” them something.)
  • Shorten your sales process by at least 25 percent (You decrease your cost of sales.)
  • Convert that referred prospect to a new client more than 50 percent of the time (You decrease your prospecting time and increase your client-facing time.)

Really.

It’s Who You Know

Most salespeople have numerous current or former customers who they know pretty well, well enough to receive a steady stream of referrals. But they leave untapped referral riches at their fingertips.

How many of your clients have you asked for referrals? When I question sales professionals, the usual answer is “not many” or “hardly any.”

Your Clients Will Help You Make the Sale

Here’s the hard fact -most clients think of us only when they need us. It’s up to you to get them thinking about you between orders. Your clients may not automatically offer referrals: Regularly remind them that you exist, so when a referral opportunity arises, you’re the one who gets it.

The clients you serve well-the ones who know you, like you, and trust you-truly want you to achieve sales success. After all, they know your work and the business results they’ve achieved from your solutions. Referring you makes them look good to their customers and business partners.

Our clients will refer us—if only we ask. With a little “instruction” you can empower your clients (your Referral Source) to refer you. Teach them how to introduce you (How do you want “what you do” to be described?). Teach them about your Ideal Client, and provide them with the answers to these critical questions:

  • What business issues do you solve?
  • What is the function of your Ideal Client? (CEO, VP, IT, Marketing)
  • In what industry or geography do you work?
  • What size company is your sweet spot?

The more specific you are, the easier it is for a client to refer you.

Referral selling sounds too good to be true. But it’s all true. Referral selling works. You choose how to spend your time. Get back in touch with your clients, ask them for referrals, and ask how you can help them. Your new sales opportunities will amaze you!

It’s time to ask.

one comment »

  • Heinz Meloth says:

    H Joanne, I am reading your really good book. I am amazed at how my activities have become different, after I opened myself to the idea of referral selling, and then I eliminated the true bottleneck. It really changed my mind(!), and thus, my thoughts and actions became significantly different. Things happened quickly. Suddenly I had a list (constantly growing list) of more than 30 people to contact–much easier than I thought before!

    Thank you very much for your helpful and really valuable advice.

    Heinz Meloth, Germany

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