trashAre you wasting referral opportunities?

When you’re looking for a new accountant, marketing firm, lawyer, technology solution, bank, or even hair stylist, I bet you don’t just pick one at random. Sure, you do a little Internet research. But you also ask people you trust who they trust. You ask them for a referral.

Most buyers do the same thing. In fact, a Nielsen study revealed that 90 percent of consumers trust their peers far more than ads.Granted, this was a consumer study, but people are people, so the same logic easily applies to B2B.

That’s why referral selling is the only business-development strategy that converts prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time.

Don’t Fail at the Follow-Up

You’d be surprised how many salespeople tell me they have stacks (well, maybe not stacks) of cards from people who’ve invited them to stay connected, and even offered to refer them to solid sales prospects. The tragedy is that many of them never followed up with any of these sources.

If someone knows you well enough to refer you, how could you not follow up? It’s perplexing.

Perhaps you don’t know how to continue the conversation, or you feel it’s pushy or arrogant to do so. Maybe you’ve tried referral selling techniques in the past without success. Or you believe your time is better spent on other sales activities, such as social media and sending emails. You’d rather hide behind technology than reach out to people, learn about them, and determine how you can help each other.

If so, you picked the wrong career.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Dave Goetz makes the case for selling by referral in his blog post, “Successful Business Development Hinges on Simple Follow-up.” He explains:

[R]eferrals are the heart of new business.  But many sales folk still think quotas, the transactions, and only about the here and now. That’s certainly important if your supervisor cares only about the end of the quarter.

Sales is not synonymous with business development, though the latter should lead to the former.  In business development, much more is at stake than a simple transaction …  the relationship trumps the transaction.

Referral selling works, but only if you keep nurturing and growing your referral network. Don’t miss out on a potentially-great client because you failed to pick up the damn phone.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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How do you make referral selling a priority?