account-based salesHere’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

Can you really convert 70 percent of prospects into customers with referral selling? That kind of conversion rate is unheard of with other account-based sales strategies. Yet, my “feet on the street” research shows that when salespeople receive referral introductions to decision-makers, they secure new clients at least 70 percent of the time. And that number holds constant around the world.

How do I know this? I just returned from speaking to sales teams in Sydney and Melbourne. I asked the group to stand if their conversion rate with referrals was 30 percent. No one stood. How about 50 percent? A handful stood. At 70 percent, almost everyone in the room stood. The rest stood at 90 and 100 percent.

I’ve done this same poll with sales audiences in the U.S. and the U.K., and I always get the same response: The vast majority says at least 70 percent.

The next question I ask: Who has a disciplined referral program with strategy, skills, metrics, and accountability for results? No one raises their hand.

That’s the gap that I’ve been addressing for more than 20 years. It’s sad, really, since a referral introduction is the #1 way for account-based sales teams to get a foot in the door.

Check out these posts from February to learn more about the power of referral selling.

How to Land and Expand with Relationships

When it comes to account-based sales tips, there is one guy who can revolutionize your technique. I’ve known plenty of great salespeople, and George is among the best, because he understands that selling is all about the people. As senior vice president of worldwide sales at a large semiconductor business, George regularly visits his customers and learns why they chose to work with his company. One CEO told him, “A lot of salespeople are aggressive and supportive when they’re looking for my business, but once they get it, we never see them again. Your salespeople were just as available and supportive after they got the business. You were there.” This important client may never go out for a competitive bid, because there is so much trust between the two companies. For account-based sales teams, the return on strong client relationships is even greater. (Read “How to Land and Expand with Relationships.”)

What Is the Most Effective of Account-Based Sales Strategies?

At least 67 percent of the buying process is complete before buyers ever contact your company. Believe that, and your account-based sales strategies are doomed from the start. There are many widely quoted but ill-advised statistics floating around that suggest business buyers don’t really need salespeople anymore—that we should just wait around for prospects to do their research and then call us when they’re ready to buy. Big mistake! The best account-based sales strategies aren’t reactive. Top salespeople are proactive, disciplined, insightful, and great at building relationships. Your account-based sellers have one job and one job only—to get in early before a prospect knows they have a need. (Read “What Is the Most Effective of Account-Based Sales Strategies?”)

Why a Good Economy Can Be Bad for Sales Teams

Will the Dow Jones index hit 20,000? That’s the question I asked myself as we welcomed in 2017. I remembered when it first hit 10,000 in 1999 and then continued to rise. And I remembered early 2009, when it dropped by more than 6,000 points. That’s the thing about the economy. It goes up and down. Now that the Dow has hit 20,000, more questions arise, including the one we’d rather not think about: Is our current year-over-year, month-over-month rise doomed to repeat 2008 and 2009? I hope not, but history tends to repeat itself. And that could be a problem for sales teams. (Read “Why a Good Economy Can Be Bad for Sales Teams.”)

Are Digital Distractions Slowing Your Sales Productivity?

Sales has always required a fair amount of multi-tasking. Between lead generation, prospecting, and caring for current clients, we have a lot of balls in the air, which can make it hard to focus. It’s even harder in the digital world. Distractions come at us at warp speed in this multi-screen, technology-driven world—and they can sap our sales productivity before we even realize it. It’s easy to let those distractions eat up valuable business hours. But success in sales means actually selling, so anything that doesn’t contribute to business development is a waste of time. So, how can you and your team increase sales productivity with so many distractions competing for your attention? You eliminate distractions. (Read “Are Digital Distractions Slowing Your Sales Productivity?”)

Test Your Referral Savvy

I’m conducting a study on referrals, and I need your help. Please take my 14-question Referral I.Q. Quiz. The questions are mostly “Yes/No,” and it should take less than four minutes to complete. Rest assured, it’s completely anonymous, with no forms to fill out.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be bounced over to a results page, where you can see the aggregated answers from everyone who has participated.

Take the Referral I.Q. Quiz now.

My goal is to get a 1,000-person sample, so please invite your network to take the quiz as well. Participation is anonymous, and I promise you won’t be added to any lists. Thanks in advance for your support!