Here’s what you might have missed this year from No More Cold Calling.

If you were asked last year how your day was, your answer would have been: “It’s 2020.” That said it all—at least for businesses that were negatively affected by the pandemic. Their clients weren’t returning calls, and budgets were constricted or put on hold. They freaked out. Too many companies accelerated what they knew—send more and more emails—knowing that strategy was never really successful, even in the best of times. During a pandemic, it basically amounted to “busy work.”

Now that we’re moving into the second quarter of 2021, the economy is beginning to improve, and vaccinations are helping us slowly approach herd immunity. Even so, emails and cold calls aren’t going to help your business recover.

Companies that thrived in 2020 had a different mindset. They were smart. They knew they were missing out on their best source of new business—their clients. They recognized that asking clients for referrals was the way to gain access to prime prospects.

How do I know this? Every client I worked with in 2020 had a singular client focus. They knew they had to improve (not negotiable) and recognized referrals were their ticket to qualified leads, a robust pipeline, and a faster path to revenue.

How about you? Same old, same old in 2021? Or are you taking a new, fresh, and measurable approach to prospecting?

Get over your sales slump with referral selling insights in my 2021 blog posts:

The Phrase of the Year Is Seller Access

My phone rang off the hook the last half of 2020. Why the sudden interest in referral sales? A sudden decline in seller access. When the economy shrinks and companies cut budgets, buyers don’t want to talk to salespeople. Layer the pandemic over that economic downturn—well, it gets worse. No one’s in their office, and if you don’t have their mobile number, forget it. Gaining seller access was hard enough before COVID. Suddenly it became almost impossible. But there is an answer to seller access. The events of 2020 changed the customer buying journey, so we must change our prospecting tactics. Or rather, change them back—from digital marketing to relationship building. (Read “The Phrase of the Year Is Seller Access.”)

Don’t Be One of “Those” People

We all know “those” people—the ones who only reach out when they want something. The people who drop off the face of the earth until they need a referral or want an introduction to someone in your network. After a while, don’t you find yourself thinking, “What have you done for me lately?” That’s exactly what prospects and referrals think about you if you’re making requests without nurturing relationships. It’s easy to get so caught up in developing new sales relationships that we forget about the existing ones, at least until we need something from them. Big mistake! How do you nurture your business relationships and your referral network? And what should you NOT do? (Read “Don’t Be One of ‘Those’ People.”)

Women Sales Leaders: From Pioneers to Modern-Day Trailblazers

Picture yourself in 1900. You didn’t have the right to vote or run for office. Your job was to take care of your household, your children, and your husband. If you had to work, you only had a few options. Much depended on your social status as a woman, and whatever you did, you would be paid far less than men for doing the same job (a problem we still haven’t solved). Fast forward 50 years to the mid-20th century, and things were a little better, but most people still believed a woman’s place was in the home. The joke was, women only attended college to get their “Mrs.” degree. Yet, even with gender biases and cultural norms working against them, there were women trailblazers in every century, including women sales leaders. (Read “Women Sales Leaders: From Pioneers to Modern-Day Trailblazers.”)

Celebrating 7 Trailblazers on International Women’s Day

I spent International Women’s Day (IWD) reflecting on women pioneers—trailblazers who paved the way for women in sales, entrepreneurship, engineering, law, and other male-dominated professions. That includes my cousin who was one of few women in her law class in the early ’70s, and my mother, who graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University in the late ‘30s with a finance degree, but still couldn’t get a bank job. Since then, progress has been slow but steady, and these seven women helped paved the way for the modern woman—earning her not just the right to vote, but the right to be heard, to own her own business, to enter politics, to lead a country, and to choose a profession previously only available to men. (Read “Celebrating 7 Trailblazers on International Women’s Day.”)

Back in the Black TV

It’s a new year and time for a fresh approach to sales. That’s why I’ve introduced Back in the Black, my monthly sales TV show on the Sales Experts Channel! It’s a way to learn about short, fun, and insightful topics. Think of it like watching the news. You get what you need in 30 minutes and move on. I’ll cover a different sales topic each month to help you get comfortable asking clients for referrals. After all, that’s the most important step in your sales process. Unless you get meetings with your target buyers that result in qualified leads, the rest is a waste of time.

New episodes of Back in the Black air on the third Tuesday of each month at 2:00 Pacific, 3:00 Mountain, 4:00 Central, and 5:00 Eastern. Every episode is recorded, so you can come back multiple times and grab what you might have missed. (Watch Back in the Black and register for future events.)

Top 25 Women in Sales

Badger Maps named me one of the top women in sales. Find out who else made the list.