referral sellingHere’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If so, how’s that working out for you?

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, because they’re typically short-lived, forgotten by the end of January. Instead, I create weekly referral goals.

Each week I decide who I should be asking for referrals, who I want to thank, who I miss talking to, and how I can continue to engage my clients in unique ways. I never forget that prospecting through referrals is my #1 outbound strategy, which I measure and continually evaluate.

Referral selling is way more than just a resolution. It’s not just what I preach; it’s what I practice every single day. It’s the way I’ve worked for the past 20 years.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It requires commitment, focus, planning, metrics, skills, and accountability for results. Yet, referrals are the biggest competitive differentiation we have. While most salespeople rely on technology and cold calling, referral salespeople score meetings with their decision-makers in one call. When will referral selling become the way you work?

Here are some referral insights from my blog that you might have missed in January:

How to Hack Lead Generation with this Simple Principle

I stared at the download form, trying to decide if it was worth it. A colleague had recommended I read this whitepaper, and the content certainly sounded interesting. But as usual, the free download came at a cost: my contact information. I could picture the sales rep on the receiving end of that lead generation form, already ramping up to barrage me with emails and stupid cold calling scripts. I took the bait, and sure enough, the calls and emails started that day. And that poor sales rep wasted his time and mine. Of course, he’s probably accustomed to that. Research shows it takes seven to 12 touches to reach a prospect, so cold callers know the odds are against them every time they pick up the phone or copy and paste their cold calling scripts into emails. Why would account-based sellers make seven to 12 calls when they can score meetings in one call with referral introductions? (Read “How to Hack Lead Generation with this Simple Principle.”)

Reasons Cold Calling Is No Good for Account-Based Sellers

You already know my point of view on cold calling.  No salesperson should ever have to cold call to generate sales leads. It’s an ineffective prospecting strategy and a nuisance to buyers, most of whom ignore cold calls. For account-based sellers, it’s not only a waste of time. It’s a waste of perfectly good relationships. Current clients at a prospect company are the best source of new business within their organizations. They already know the value that your solution and salespeople bring to the table, and their word means a lot to their peers in other departments. So, why are account-based sellers wasting time with cold calling and marketing-generated leads when referral introductions could get them the one-call meeting? (Read “Reasons Cold Calling Is No Good for Account-Based Sellers.”)

Why Sales Managers Need Street Smarts

Did you study really hard in school? Some of us probably did more than others. But we all studied to take tests about facts and figures. We studied in high school to ace the SAT. We studied in college to get top grades. Studying was a discipline. Sometimes we learned, but the goal was to pass tests. Most of us don’t remember much of what we studied in school. Real learning comes from life experience, and most of what we really need to know about our actual jobs, we learn on the job. This is particularly true for sales managers. For this month’s guest post, I asked Dr. Tony Alessandra to clear up the definition of formal knowledge versus street smarts, and explain which is better for sales managers. Here’s his take. (Read “Why Sales Managers Need Street Smarts.”)

Sales Teams Need Face Time—with Prospects and Each Other

A colleague of mine in Europe complained to me that his prospect in Paris had arranged a meeting with all the decision-makers he needed to meet. But they had only given him four days’ notice. My colleague thought it was rather presumptuous of them to ask him to drop everything and hop on a plane. Plus, the cost of last-minute airfare was astronomical. I had heard enough. I told him to buy the damn ticket … immediately. The chance to get all the decision-makers in one room was worth the inconvenience and the extra money. He went, and as you might have guessed, he closed the business. He also built powerful new relationships. Nothing beats face-to-face meetings. It’s true in prospecting, and it’s true in team-building—especially today as sales teams are increasingly dispersed. You can’t span cultural differences and build deep and lasting trust unless you occasionally get the gang together in person. (Read “Sales Teams Need Face Time—with Prospects and Each Other.”)

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!