donthavetimeBook four breakfasts and five lunches each week, and watch your sales soar.

As a smart, strategic sales professional, you know full well the value of building and maintaining a strong network of clients and referral sources. But you simply don’t have time to meet with them in person, right?

Wrong! There’s no doubt we’re all busy. Research from CSO Insights shows that while only 63 percent of sales reps made quota in 2012, revenue targets are 16.4 percent higher this year. That’s a lot of pressure—and a lot of work. It’s also the reason you can’t afford to neglect your referral sources.

Referral selling is the most effective, most efficient prospecting strategy that exists. With referrals, you convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. But it doesn’t work unless you make relationship-building your priority.

Sure, you’re pressed for time. But you’ve got to eat, right? So why not kill two birds with one stone?

Hit the Magic Meeting Number

One of my clients instructs his sales reps to book five lunches and four breakfasts each week. That’s nine meetings a week. It could be 10, but as he puts it, who wants to meet for breakfast on Monday morning?

Nine meetings a week equals 36 meetings a month. Subtracting four weeks for vacation, travel, and personal time off, that’s 396 meetings a year!

Does my client’s sales team actually book nine meetings a week? Rarely. But to grow, you need a goal, so why not aim high?

Consider the Compelling Referral Math

When your goal is to bring new clients to your company, your most important sales activity is expanding your referral network. Even if you only book half the suggested meetings with referral sources (let’s call it 200 meetings for easy math), and if only half of those connections introduce you to potential clients, that’s 100 well-qualified leads.

When you receive referral introductions to your decision-makers, you convert a minimum of 50 percent to clients. That means 50 new deals and access to those people’s networks!

Sound too good to be true? It’s not. When you work the referral process, it works for you.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up

With this strategy, your biggest problem will be following up on all those referrals. And what a great problem to have!

Be sure to follow up with your referral sources as well. They want to know they made good connections for you and that you appreciate their efforts.

Nine meetings a week. Go for it!

For more on how relationships equal sales success, get your copy of my new book, Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal­—now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

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