When you prospect by referral, you treat all customers like gold.

I’d had it. I threw my three bananas, ketchup, and plastic mustard bottle on the counter and stomped out of the store. I’ve never had a good customer experience at that market, but this was over the top.

I was in the express checkout line at Safeway. Despite the 15-item limit, the man ahead of me had more than 20 items. There was some problem, so the cashier stopped everything and called for help. This was the EXPRESS line. I was now on a slow burn, so I ran over to the self-checkout line, figuring it would be faster. All the terminals were in use. That’s when I decided to get my bananas, ketchup, and mustard someplace else.

You undoubtedly have plenty of stories like this. We complain about consumer experiences all the time—the phone company that lies about your mobile phone charges, the gas company that puts unknown charges on your bill, your internet provider that no one likes because they make promises and never deliver, and the airlines. (Don’t get me started on that last one.)

But consumers aren’t the only ones who expect a good customer experience. Business buyers want superior service, too, and they have more to offer than just repeat business. They can also help fill your pipeline with referrals to piping hot leads. That’s why a referral culture leads to a stellar customer experience.

The Importance of Customer Experience in B2B Sales

Digital technology has forever changed B2C sales and customer service, and that shift has also changed the B2B sales game.

After all, business buyers are consumers, too, and they’ve been spoiled by what’s called “The Amazon Effect.” They want the same personalized, seamless customer experience that they get in their personal lives. According to McKinsey, “Customers accustomed to the personalization and ease of dealing with digital natives such as Google and Amazon now expect the same kind of service from established players. Research shows that 25 percent of customers will defect after just one bad experience.”

We need to pay attention to every single interaction along the customer journey. Recent research shows that people value a good customer experience more than a good product. According to Salesforce, “Eight out of 10 customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.”

What about price? Salesforce also found that “74% of business-to-business customers and 63% of consumers will pay more for a great experience. This means that businesses have an opportunity to increase revenue by delighting their customers in a way that nobody else can.”

Sure, buyers have their hands tied by budget, but if they’re confident a company will solve their problem, they’ll usually find the money. They understand the wisdom in the phrase, “You get what you pay for.” And you know the old adage, “good, fast, cheap—pick two.” Yep, they’ve heard that too.

Most sellers cave on price—even before they’re asked. That’s stupid behavior. If you’re a price seller, you’re not a customer experience seller.

Don’t Be Discriminating with Customer Experience

In a recent post on LinkedIn, the author wrote that we should give some customers champagne treatment and others sparkling water. That got me fired up.

I responded:

Just because a company is large, doesn’t mean we should create a different experience for them than for others. (The time we spend will vary, and there are other variables, of course.) But CX is universal. We all want a great experience. Who are we to decide who gets that and who doesn’t? 

The rebuttal:

The deeper point is that every account is different, and we can’t give every account the same level of attention. What unfortunately happens is all accounts get “water” down treatment. Pic a few and give them amazing focus and I believe that we will win more often when we do that.

Of course, we can’t give every account the same level of attention, but that’s entirely different from ensuring every interaction supports a stellar customer experience. Selling means you have integrity, you take care of people, you tell the truth—even when clients don’t want to hear it. We treat our family and good friends with care and attention. Why should it be different for our prospects and clients? It shouldn’t. Not if we want satisfied customers, and certainly not if we want referrals.

Take care of people, and everyone you speak with could be a source of referrals. Everyone has the potential to buy from you. And everyone has the potential to leave if they’re not listened to, not treated with respect, and feel like they’re just another number. Unfortunately, many times they are.

How Referrals Improve the Customer Experience

When your B2B sales team prospects by referral, they don’t think in terms of champagne prospects versus sparkling water prospects, because they know that everyone is equally valuable as a referral source. Just as importantly, referred customers have a great first impression of the company.

A referral introduction guarantees a stellar customer experience. That’s a strong word, so think about this: When reps get a referral introduction, they arrive with trust already earned. It’s the multiplier effect. The trust the prospect has for the referrer transfers to the salesperson.

Referred prospects know they can expect a good customer experience. After all, people only refer salespeople that they trust will treat their connections as they would—salespeople who won’t pitch and will instead share relevant insights, whether they get the deal or not.

Referred reps get every meeting in one call, because their calls are expected and welcome. They get the inside track and information their competition never has a chance to hear. They learn about budget and timelines, who has the power, and who to watch out for. Then it’s up to them to reinforce that trust by having intelligent conversations, uncovering needs, and sharing insights.

Referrals are based on trust. Without trust, we have nothing. We’ll never get a deal done. Referrals come from everyone, not just your champagne clients, and it’s the best customer experience, ever.

Want to learn how to multiply trust with a proven referral system? Learn more about No More Cold Calling referral programs.