Who would you be more likely to buy from, someone who called you, out of the blue, or someone recommended by a friend or colleague?
Study after study have proven that referrals and recommendations are the BEST source of sales prospects. This post will show you why, when and most importantly HOW to ask for a referral.
First, let’s look at WHY we should ask for a referral.
A Nielsen study on trust found that “84% of buyers are mostly influenced by recommendations from friends and family”. And trust is KEY to building relationships that convert to sales.
When you are working from a referral, they already trust you. This is a huge benefit, saving you time and, as long as you remain trustworthy, can actually speed up the relationship building and sales process.
Along the same lines, an IDC study found that “almost 75% of executives prefer to work with salespeople who’ve been referred to them”. Executives are busy, being a referral saves them the time of vetting you. Get a referral.
A Wharton School of Business study found that “Customers won through referrals are about 24% more profitable than other customers”. In addition to being easier to start a relationship with, once they are customers, they are less likely to leave.
Clearly, referrals are a potent source of quality leads.
Leaving money on the table
But while 91% of customers say they’d give referrals, only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals!
Why don’t salespeople ask for referrals? These seem to be the top excuses – along with suggestions on how to overcome them:
- “They won’t know anyone who needs my services” – you call prospects because they fit some basic criteria. It is a very good bet that they know others with the same criteria, or if they can’t use you, they may know someone who is an even better fit!
- “It will make me look needy or desperate” – no, it will make you look like a ‘professional’. You aren’t begging for scraps; you are asking for an introduction. Executives know how important networking is – if you have impressed them with your knowledge and listening skills, they will be more willing to make a connection.
- “I have enough leads” – if this were true, you probably wouldn’t be reading article this so, go work on getting referrals to get more, and higher quality, leads.
- “They would refer me if they knew anyone who needed my services” – no, they probably have a dozen other things on their to do lists and helping you get leads is probably not one of them – BUT, if you ask, they may take the time to do it, so definitely try!
- “I forgot” – make it a part of your scripting, a closing step to your pitch so it is something you do automatically. It is not an ‘afterthought’ but a final step in your sales outreach process.
HOW to Ask for a Referral
- Happy Clients: Whenever you receive a glowing call, email or words of praise, ask them, “is there anyone else you know who might be interested in our services?”
- New Prospects: Even if they don’t convert right then, ask them, “is there anyone else you know who might be interested in our services?” or “I know that we are not a good fit for your company right now, but is there anyone you know or work with who might be a better fit?”
- At the end of the buying process: As a last touch point, make sure you ask for a referral! This can happen at a last meeting or as part of a follow-up email.
- Bonus Points: At the BEGINNING of the buying process, at your kick off meeting, mention that you will, in a few weeks, be circling back to see if they know of anyone who might also be a good fit for your services. This gives them a quick heads up that you will be asking, makes asking a bit easier, as they expect it and gets a small ‘buy-in’ that that is part of the process. It also makes you look like a consummate sales PRO!
Salespeople who actively seek out and follow-up on referrals earn 4 to 5 times more than those who do not – make sure that YOU are asking for them!
Do you and YOUR sales team need more tips on how to be more effective? Our ‘Call Center in a Box’ program provides the training, management and monitoring your team needs to improve the quality of their interactions, the quality and quantity of leads and their SALES. Give me a call at 908-879-1322 or click here to set up a one-on-one call with me https://calendly.com/nancy-calabrese/one-on-one
Click here more Cold Calling Tips and Advice
Are YOU ready for 2021? As we look forward to the start of a new year, here are some stats to think about and suggestions to help you ROCK the coming year!
The RAIN Group, an award-winning sales training company, found that ‘82% of buyers say they have accepted meetings with salespeople after a series of contacts beginning with sales cold calls’. I know it can feel like you hear a lot of no’s when making cold calls but this stat underscores that there ARE a lot of ‘yeses’ out there. Make sure you are doing everything you can to get them!
What should you be doing?
Here are some posts with tips on what you should be doing to up YOUR odds of getting a ‘yes’:
- Envision Your Success
- Make sure you are working from CLEAN, up to date, Data
- Don’t give up
- Reach for the Truth
- Focus on QUALITY over QUANTITY
- Build an “A” Team
- Plus more on how to build an effective team
- And as always, LISTEN CAREFULLY!
Don’t Dread it, just DO it!
A recent survey of sales agents found that 63% of sales representatives say that cold calls are the worst part of their job. I think that a LOT of this has to do with people not having a clue as to what they are doing! Too often, salespeople are given a phone and a list of numbers and sent on their way.
That is a recipe for disaster – I can pretty much assure you of poor-quality results with that approach. And it is demoralizing for your salespeople as well.
Salespeople need a SYSTEM, TRAINING, MONITORING and MANAGEMENT to effectively set qualified appointments and close sales.
At One of a Kind Sales, we have seen how successful sales teams can be when they have a comprehensive approach to sales. Our unique sales program, called ‘Conversational Selling’, is a time proven system, coupled with ongoing training, monitoring and management that prepares salespeople to successfully and consistently, deliver qualified leads and appointments.
Click here to learn about how we can train YOUR Inside Sales Team to use this successful technique.
Or here to see how OUR TEAM can make Cold Calls and set qualified appointments for YOU!
According to a Marketing Wisdom stat, almost half (44%) of sales reps said they stopped with sales follow up after receiving a negative response to a first call. REALLY?!? If you are going to give up that quickly, clearly sales is NOT the job for you!
That same group found that ‘after reaching a prospect, salespersons need to make an average of five successful follow-up calls to close a deal.’ This is not a ‘one and done’ kind of business and is why you need a system and training to support you.
Sales is a game of endurance – play the long game or don’t play at all.
Are you LISTENING?
TOPO, a sales research and advisory firm, found that 87% of prospects said that salespeople didn’t understand their needs. Well, if you are asking pointed questions and really listening to their replies, this should NOT be the case!
We provide our teams with scripts specifically designed to elicit the responses we need to fully understand the prospects’ needs. As you can see from the stat, this alone sets us head and shoulders above the competition!
If you your team isn’t getting the info they need to make real connections, give us a call – we can help!
OK – so are YOU ready for 2021?
Do your preparation and give us a call if you need help – we want to see you ROCK the coming year!
Notes: Marketing Wizdom RAIN Group TOPO
“Always Be Closing” is a popular sales phrase that you have probably heard. It is often touted as the “ABC’s of Sales”. But this phrase is often misunderstood as being all about the spurring on and encouraging the salesperson to go in for the kill – the close – and then move on to the next one.
If you have learned anything from this series, I hope it is that sales is NOT about you, the salesperson, but it is all about THEM, the prospect.
That said, I do believe that you always need to be working towards the close. Let me explain what I mean.
Be clear about the process
Closing becomes easier if you have done your work all along the way. Signing the contract should be the culmination and confirmation of all the discussions you have had. The contract should hold no surprises and is just a formality. They should be ‘buying-in’ all along. The Close is just the logical next step in the Sales process.
Is it a fit?
Early on, you need to pre-qualify the prospect. Spending time and money with a prospect who cannot afford your product or services is time and money wasted. Discuss and get buy-in on the budget before investing time and resources.
Periodically use phrases like, ‘wouldn’t you agree?’ and ‘did I get that right?‘ to make sure you are on the same page and to anchor all of you in your new, advanced location as you move along in the sales process.
Are all the Decision Makers present?
Spending your time selling to someone who is not in a position to actually close the deal is a huge mistake. Make sure you understand, up front, who will be the one to authorize the sale and be sure that they are in on the discussions. Don’t waste your time with gatekeepers or anyone less than the decision maker(s).
Check for conflicts
Periodically ask to see what problems or obstacles your prospects may see with the proposed plan. It is important to identify and address these before moving forward.
Whenever a new decision maker enters the mix, check with them as well. Request and respect their point of view.
Knowledge = Power
You need to glean as much knowledge as you can from your prospect and the company. You need knowledge of their needs, their pain points, their past experience and most importantly, their expectations. Then you need to use that knowledge to craft your pitch and sell your solution.
We train our salespeople to incorporate ‘trial closes’ into their sales process. All along the way, they are making small ‘closes’ which make the final close much easier. Think of it as a way to ‘take the temperature’ of the room and confirm that you are on the right track.
‘What would you like to see happen next?’ OR ‘What should next steps look like?’
I like to use one of these phrases when I wrap up my presentations. It allows THEM to bring up and request that I send a contract. This way, rather than my pushing it on them, they have requested it. This is a subtle but important difference.
I send contracts the afternoon before our next meeting. This allows them enough time to review it, but it isn’t available for extensive examination. Then we go over it together, at the meeting, and get it signed.
Since you are aware of their needs and pain points, it makes it easy to show how your solution will address them. And your contract should be in alignment with their expectations since you will have clarified these previously. There really should not be any surprises at this point.
Yes, legal reviews can take time and slow down your close but if you have a well-designed solution that underscores and addresses their pain points, your prospect should be able to successfully shepherd the contract through the process.
This is just the beginning!
Try to identify and address any ‘buyer’s remorse’ before it has time to take root. The close is not the end but the beginning, of the relationship!
A real pro will mention, at the close, ‘Oh, and by the way – to prepare you – I will come to you in about 3 months to ask you for references. We are really looking forward to working with you and would love to work with more clients like you!’.
They may not remember you saying this, but it sets you up for a successful conversation when you make that request for references.
Do you and your team need help to successfully close more business? Give us a call at 908-879-2911 Or click here to use my Calendly link to arrange a time to speak.
Missed any previous posts in this Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success series?
Step 1 – The Cold Call
Step 2 – The First Meeting
Step 3 – Objections – Part 1
Step 3 – Objections – Part 2
Do YOU know the correct answer?
True or false? Constantly adding new leads will result in more sales.
In our experience, this is FALSE. In the case of cold calling and lead generation, less is MORE.
To calculate the number of leads you can follow-up on:
Calculate number of hours you can dial per week x number of dials per hour = number of calls you can make per week.
Anything more than that will not get touched.
Focus on quality over quantity!
Spend the time to speak with and really LISTEN to the prospects you reach and you will close more sales than just trying to amp up the sheer number of leads you approach.
The Corona Virus (Covid-19) Pandemic has upended all of our lives. It has caused sadness and death around the world and has redefined how we live our daily lives. It has also transformed our workplaces and how we do business.
Here at One of a Kind Sales, we LOVE Cold Calling and make calls all day, every day, for our clients and companies. People have asked me, ‘how has the Covid-19 pandemic changed cold calling’?
Here is what we are seeing and some suggestions on how you can use these insights when YOU are making prospecting calls:
1. First and foremost, we are seeing this worldwide. This is an opportunity to remind each other that we are in fact, all in this together. Reminders like this can alleviate some of the fear we all feel and allow us to have more authentic conversations. Something we do NOT want to lose, once things get back to normal!
2. People seem open to engaging in longer conversations. Use your time with them to learn more!
3. We have found that asking how they are handling the crisis has been a good way to break the ice with many people. They feel like you are interested in them as more than a number.
4. And many companies have changed the way that they route calls within their organization, due to most or all of their workforce working from home.
Most companies have had to do a complete makeover of their IVR systems and voice prompts in order to adapt to the new changes. Some set their phone systems so that the calls are directly forwarded to cell phones or home offices. Others have a gatekeeper performing that role while screening the calls, and some others don’t have the ability to transfer calls at all and can only take a message or be contacted by email only, mainly because the receptionist is also working from home.
These changes can allow us to reach decision-makers, who were previously unreachable.
5. In some sectors, the economy is thriving. Stay positive and focus on the silver linings.
As we have said from the beginning, now is NOT the time to sit back and wait to see what the future brings. We need to keep making those calls and to keep digging!
A huge THANK YOU to my team for sharing their insights and expertise for this post. And now over to you – how has the Covid-19 pandemic changed cold calling for YOU and your team? Please comment below with YOUR insights and thoughts.
Thank you and stay safe!