Winners“Mark,” a salesperson in Poland, began selling financial investment products five months ago, after a 2-month induction. What prospecting method did they teach him? Cold calling, of course.  “When I started to search actively for clients using this approach, the results were even worse than I was told to expect: 150 phone calls and five agreed-upon meetings (three completed, two forgotten). Customers acquired: None.”

Mark read my book, No More Cold Calling(TM): The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust, and “almost immediately stopped doing cold calls.” He prepared materials for his network–and started asking for referrals. “It took me a week-plus to rearrange the way I work, and my results changed,” he recently wrote to me. Over the course of six weeks in December and January, he arranged 18 meetings–five of them through referrals–and got two new (“very promising”) customers. And he has another four in progress. Asking for referrals has become an inherent part of his job. The process works.

Game-changing year for this reader? You bet. For you? It absolutely could be! No matter where you are in our increasingly connected world, referrals rock!

In fact, in a recent webinar survey I conducted, attendees identified the two biggest sales challenges they face:

  • Getting the meeting at the level that counts (58%)
  • Converting prospects to customers (47%)

But when they receive a qualified referral, they report securing a new client more than 50 percent of the time. In fact:

  • 31 percent said more than 50 percent of the time;
  • 30 percent said more than 70 percent of the time; and
  • 23 percent said more than 90 percent of the time.

Wow, they made my case: Referrals address the two largest sales challenges–big time.

Yet, 85 percent don’t have a targeted referral strategy with a written referral sales plan, weekly written goals and methods to track and measure them. Imagine the results if they would only fully leverage the only sales method that produces this type of numbers.

In addition to this great data, salespeople uniformly tell me that when they receive a referral, they:

  • Are pre-sold (the sales prospect expects and wants to take their calls),
  • Have instant credibility and the prospects’ trust,
  • Enjoy shortened sales processes,
  • Ace out the competition, and
  • Incur no “hard costs.”

These results all hinge on my definition of a “qualified sales referral”: You have the introduction from someone your prospect trusts who’s willing to give you a great recommendation—by phone, e-mail or in person. If you just get a name and contact information, it’s a cold call. The sales prospect doesn’t know you and is not expecting your call. Don’t fool yourself.  That sales call is cold, arctic … freezing. The only definition of a qualified referral is a personal introduction. Period.

Stop wasting your valuable sales time on less than stellar sales results. Remember: “150 phone calls and five agreed-upon meetings (three completed, two forgotten). Customers acquired: None.” You wouldn’t settle for such inferior results for your clients, would you? Set the same high standards for yourself.

Get your referral checklist with my new Referral I.Q. Quiz, and make 2010 your game-changing selling year!