asking for referralsHere’s what you might have missed from No More Cold Calling this month.

Are you fully booked for Q1?

Closing the sales year with a bang is nice, but if you’re not already getting a jump-start on business development for 2017, you’re running behind. The last quarter of the year is 25 percent about closing business for this year and 75 percent about building a robust pipeline for next year.

Sure, some companies have budgeted money that they need to spend before December 31. But if you haven’t closed deals by now, and they’re not on your forecast to close, you’re toast.

Buyers are finalizing their 2017 budgets now, so reach out to your current clients and ensure you’re still on their radar. Then ramp up your prospecting activity by asking for referrals from those happy customers, and you’ll be well on your way to building a strong pipeline for Q1.

Learn more about referral selling in this month’s blog posts from No More Cold Calling:

3 Referral Selling Skills All B2B Sales Reps Should Practice

Building professional skills takes practice—deliberate practice. But adults resist practice. We get paid to do our jobs correctly the first time. Practice is on our own time. And who has extra time just floating around? Children practice all the time, without fear. Remember learning to ride a bike? You probably started with a tricycle (very safe), then got a bicycle with training wheels (safe), which you eventually dropped for a free ride (not so safe). You fell, skinned your knees, and got back on. You eventually got good, really good. But it didn’t happen overnight. B2B sales reps don’t get good overnight either. And even the most experienced sellers get rusty without regular practice. This is particularly true when it comes to asking for referrals, which even seasoned sales professionals find intimidating without regular practice. (Read “3 Referral Selling Skills All B2B Sales Reps Should Practice.”)

Why Cold Calling and Stupid Prospecting Don’t Work

Bluebirds are great, aren’t they? A prospect is ready to buy and reaches out to your sales reps, who close the deal with little effort. It’s a lucky break, a win/win. But it’s not a reliable lead generation strategy, because your sales reps didn’t initiate prospecting. Too many sales organizations now rely on incoming requests and outgoing emails to grab prospects’ attention. Sales reps send stupid messages to strangers on social media, requesting 10 minutes of their time or asking if they’re even the right person to be contacting. When they’re met with radio silence, these reps follow up, asking if prospects received their previous messages and emails. That’s not prospecting; that’s cold calling—the most ineffective and annoying way for salespeople to work. (Read “Why Cold Calling and Stupid Prospecting Don’t Work.”)

Your Technical Experts Rock at Lead Generation … Really

Credibility and trust—hard for salespeople to earn, but a slam-dunk for technical experts. Many companies only bring out their technicians to do demos. Big mistake. They can also be great for lead generation. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, technical and academic experts and analysts in your company are more trusted than your CEO. And that makes them your hidden gems for B2B marketing. (Read “Your Technical Experts Rock at Lead Generation … Really.”)

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!