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I used to think it was just sales newbies who struggled with referral reluctance. They simply hadn’t built their networks or their confidence. When seasoned salespeople started admitting they also felt uncomfortable asking for referrals, I was shocked. I wondered about those in non-traditional sales roles like customer success, CPAs, attorneys, architects, engineers, and consultants—who are now being asked to sell. If sales pros can’t muster the courage to ask clients for referrals, I doubt anyone outside the sales team is asking with any regularity.

I learned it doesn’t matter your gender, age, industry experience, or culture. Referral selling is hard for us all, because it’s the most personal kind of selling.

Personal discomfort is the elephant in the room. I’m calling it out, because everyone feels the same way. (Just when you think you’re the only one, you never are, right?) It feels uncomfortable, because you convince yourself:

  • You could be intruding and jeopardizing a trusted relationship.
  • You’re asking a busy person to do even more.
  • You’re afraid of being perceived as asking for help. (Well, that’s not cool.)
  • If you have to ask, it might suggest you’re not very successful. (That’s embarrassing.)
  • Asking for referrals feels pushy and “salesy.” (You’re not that kind of salesperson.)
  • It feels like begging, asking for a favor. And then you might owe them something back.
  • They might say NO.

The last is the biggest block for everyone. The truth is, your clients and trusted colleagues won’t say no. Why would they? Referrals are how most people prefer to do business, whether they’re looking for a good restaurant or a new software vendor.

Learn more about the power of referrals in the Q3 blog posts and podcasts below.

Sales Leadership Is Missing It Big (and Here’s the Proof)

Research shows cold calling scripts and tricks don’t work, but referrals do. In fact, new research from the Sandler Center shows that while most companies still focus on cold calling and emailing, referrals are far more effective at generating qualified leads. (Read “Sales Leadership Is Missing It Big (and Here’s the Proof)”)

4 Secrets to the One-Call Meeting: Your Powerful Referral Program

It takes roughly eight touches for sales reps to reach cold prospects. Is that how you want your sales reps spending their time—cold calling strangers who don’t answer the phone or respond to emails until they’ve been pestered EIGHT times? The #1 challenge salespeople face is reaching decision-makers quickly, but getting prospects to call you back is deceptively simple with a referral program. (Read “4 Secrets to the One-Call Meeting: Your Powerful Referral Program”)

Are Referrals Your Priority … or an Afterthought?

When you ensure that referrals come first in your business development plan, referral selling becomes a scalable prospecting strategy. Yes, your most predictable and measurable prospecting tool is your very own sales team, asking for referrals. (Read “Are Referrals Your Priority … or an Afterthought?”)

3 Referral Selling Skills All B2B Sales Reps Should Practice

Referral selling skills aren’t built overnight.  Without regular practice, even the most experienced sellers find asking for referrals intimidating. Want your sales team to build permanent, repeatable, effective referral selling skills? Then make time for practice. And make it a requirement—for them and for you. (Read “3 Referral Selling Skills All B2B Sales Reps Should Practice”)

Message to Management: Are Your Sales Metrics Messed Up?

Setting the right KPIs is your biggest competitive differentiator. Measure the right sales activities, manage to those activities, and coach your reps on the behaviors that turn those lead generation activities into revenue. (Read “Message to Management: Are Your Sales Metrics Messed Up?”)

Generation Z Refuses to Be Defined by Generational Stereotypes

No one likes to be stereotyped, not in life or in sales. But that’s exactly what we do to members of every generation. Generation Z wants to opt out of that mindset and the stereotypical boxes that come with it. And sales leaders would be wise to let them. (Read “Generation Z Refuses to Be Defined by Generational Stereotypes”)

In the Hot Seat: Podcasts Featuring Joanne

For more referral selling insights, listen to these popular podcasts featuring Joanne Black:

Confessions of a Serial Seller Podcast

Joanne joins Tony Morris to share her referral journey and explain how sales teams can tap into their referral networks to fill their pipelines with qualified leads. Listen to the podcast.

Dylis Guyan Podcast

Dylis and Joanne discuss how to get introductions to the type of clients you love working with, avoiding gatekeepers, and why prospects don’t call you back. Listen to the podcast.

Sales Reinvented Podcast

Joanne joins Paul Watts for a conversation about how leveraging referrals positively impacts productivity and sales success. Listen to the podcast.

Invite Joanne to Speak

Sales success isn’t about who has the best technology. It’s about who has the best relationships, especially during these tough economic times. Joanne cautions modern sellers about the dangers of digital dependence. She believes the best account based sales development strategies combine social intelligence, relationship building, and referrals.

Invite Joanne to share these strategies with your sales team at your next virtual sales meeting or annual Sales Kickoff event. Learn more about her sales presentations here, or schedule a complimentary 30-minute call with Joanne.