canstockphoto17380521Get ready to catch the Referral Spirit.

I was surprised when Max reached out to me for help. An old friend and the president of a successful company, Max had grown his business year over year for 20 years, and 98 percent of his clients came from referrals. Obviously, he already had referral selling down to a science. So, I asked why he wanted to talk to me. “I want to get better,” he said. “I want to purposefully attract the kind of clients where we can deliver our best work.”

Max had caught the Referral Spirit, and he didn’t want to shake it. I know that feeling first-hand, and so does anyone who prospects through referrals.

Selling is the best job in the world. We solve problems for our clients, build amazing relationships, and help people grow their businesses. No other job provides such rich opportunities to connect with people or to plug into the pulse of the global economy.

Our job gets even better with referral introductions from people our prospects know and trust. Then we walk into the first meeting with credibility already earned. That’s the hard part of relationship-building, and referred salespeople nail it.

The Power of Referral Selling

Referrals rock, and you know it. Think about the last time you contacted a referred prospect. You talked about how you both know the person who referred you. Because you’d already checked out the prospect’s LinkedIn profile and identified common interests, you had plenty to talk about. You exchanged ideas very much like peers. Better yet, you got in before your prospect knew she had a need and knocked the competition out of contention. You didn’t get the same objections you typically receive, because your prospect already knew the value you bring to the table.

You experienced a taste of the Referral Spirit—the excitement that comes from working with the right customers. You become super-charged when you’re face to face with referred prospects, or having vigorous conversations with them on the phone. You are present, energized, and know you’re doing great work. And you need fewer prospects in the pipeline, because all of your leads are actually qualified.

When you’re introduced to someone you want to meet and who wants to meet you, you create business opportunities that are yours to win. You meet with decision-makers who could become your customers, or with people who could become your advocates within their organizations. Either way, you are starting with someone on your side.

Referral selling gives salespeople many competitive advantages, including:

  • High Close Rates: Your success rate skyrockets, because you convert prospects into clients well more than 50 percent of the time. (Most salespeople tell me it’s more like 70 percent.)
  • Valuable Customer Relationships: You conduct more business with existing customers, and they become loyal Referral Sources.
  • Pre-Sold Customers: You shorten the sales cycle and close deals faster, because your customers already know who you are, and they want to talk to you.
  • Meaningful Conversations: You are credible in your prospect’s eyes from the moment you first connect. You have the robust conversations that you love—learning about the client’s business and ways you can help. You’ve earned the right to ask question after question, and “peel the onion” until you expose the real issues.
  • Reduced Competition: Your competition either diminishes or becomes nonexistent, because you now set the standard by which others are evaluated. Because you have an established relationship, your client shares important information with you—information that your competitors will never hear, information that gives you the inside track on key decision-makers, budget, and expected timelines.

This is why people who catch the Referral Spirit don’t lose it. If anything, they want more.

Ready to Catch the Referral Spirit?

Wouldn’t it be great if all of your business came from referrals? Wouldn’t you rather take a sales call than make a sales call? You’d save time, work with people you like, close deals faster, and above all, have a great time.

Referral selling is logical and simple, but it’s not easy. It takes courage and guts to transform the way you sell. You’ll need to invest time in learning how to ask for referrals, practicing what you’ve learned, and implementing a referral system. It’s a rigorous discipline that will give you a monumental return on your investment.

I invite you to challenge why you are selling the way you are selling. If the status quo is giving you the life you want, keep doing it. Otherwise, have an open mind and catch the Referral Spirit!

Test Your Referral Savvy

I’m conducting a new 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. 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!

(Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Publisher.)

Connect with No More Cold Calling

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