Twenty years ago, I would have told you referrals couldn’t possibly be more important for account based sales development. I was wrong. Today, they’re even more important—and more powerful—than they were back then.
Too many account based selling teams over-rely on technology to reach their prospects. They believe the fastest ways into the C-suite are digital: targeted emails, cold calls, social media outreach, and inbound marketing automation.
This digital dependence actually decreases productivity and extends the time it takes to reach a decision-maker. The goal of account based sales development is to land and expand within named accounts. The best way to do that doesn’t require an internet connection. It requires personal connections—referral introductions from current clients.
Some Lead Generation Tools Never Change
Despite what you’ll often hear from technology gurus about lead generation tools, sales success isn’t determined by who has the best technology; it’s determined by who has the best relationships.
The digital world, as great as it is, undermines personal connections. Customers buy because they like and trust your account based selling team—or because someone they like and trust has referred your team. There are hundreds of great applications for account based sales development—CRM, marketing automation, social-selling tools, advocate platforms. But selling is (and has always been) a person-to-person business.
We will never replace real human engagement with tweets and status updates, or with automated lead generation tools. That’s why smart salespeople never stop nurturing their networks, and why asking for referrals has become the most effective of all lead generation tools.
Referrals Get Account Based Selling Teams in the Door
Account based sales development only works if reps get in the door and meet with their ideal prospects. Nothing else really matters. Sure, they can craft spectacular emails or cold call prospects, explaining how similar companies have experienced amazing results with your solution. You can reference trigger events (Boy, am I tired of that phrase!) and try every ploy to get around the gatekeeper.
But why waste valuable sales time with a cold outreach when a referred salesperson is a welcome call? Prospects expect to hear from your team when they’re referred. They actually want to talk to your reps, because people they know and trust have vouched for your team. The referral sources’ relationships get you in the door. Then the selling savvy of your account based selling team closes the deal.
By asking for referrals, your team:
- Gets meetings with decision-makers in one call
- Shortens prospecting time by at least 20 percent
- Arrives with credibility and trust already earned (not an easy task)
- Outpaces the competition (if you have any, you have the inside track)
- Converts prospects into clients at least 50 percent of the time (usually more than 70 percent)
Referral selling is your biggest competitive differentiator! Your team gets in early, uncovers problems, and builds relationships. Your competition won’t know what hit them.
Bring Back Balance
Digital dependence is alluring. It’s easy to let technology make us lazy about building relationships. It can also make us bad at building relationships, because it distracts us from the people right in front of us. We get sucked into the digital universe. We have FOMO—fear of missing out. And while we keep tabs on the online world, we lose touch with the real one.
Our relationships are what really matter—in life and business. This is true for everyone, but even more so for account based selling teams, whose job is to build relationships, land and expand within enterprises, and garner referral introductions. It means ABC—always be connecting. Always be building relationships and never neglect your network. It’s your most valuable asset for account based sales development.
Use technology to facilitate your sales process—to conduct research, find referral sources, organize information, and provide buyers with valuable information. But don’t rely on it to fill your pipeline or close deals. No matter how many facts sellers present to move a prospect to a decision, nothing matters if buyers don’t feel they can work with your account based selling team. It’s really that straightforward.
People do business with people. Period. Put down the toys, pick up the damn phone, and start talking. Or better yet, meet in person. It takes a bit more time and effort, but I guarantee your results will prove the time was well spent. Selling is not a one-way street. There is no magic bullet and no wondrous serum that will cure all your ills and solve all your problems. Fancy gadgets and apps won’t magically make sales appear. But a trusted referral and a personal connection will.
Want to learn more about account based sales development via referrals? Watch my short videos with referral selling tips.
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