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