As a salesperson, you’re always on the lookout for new prospects. You likely spend a lot of your time cold calling or carrying out B2B sales. Most of your activities are split between talking to prospects, and working on building your company’s visibility so more prospects know who you are and what you do.
But what if there was another sales activity that could grow your pipeline and give you access to even more opportunities?
Referrals give you access to well qualified leads and help you build long lasting relationships that will bring you more sales for months or even years to come.
Why You Need Referrals
Referrals make good business sense for any sales person:
- Referred leads give you a head start. Your customer has already pinpointed your referred lead as interested in your product or service. That means you can skip the early stage of figuring out whether your product is a good fit for them.
- Referrals make it easier to build trust with your leads. Instead of cold calling, you’re being introduced to your potential new client via someone they know and trust.
- Getting referrals often takes less effort than traditional lead generation and cold calling.
- A few referrals can quickly grow into a supportive network who are interested in what you do, and ready to let others in their circle know about it, too.
How To Make Yourself Referable
If you want to get referrals, you need to make yourself referable. In other words, you need to focus on providing a high quality product or service, and excellent customer service to boot. Customers refer businesses that they’ve had a positive experience with.
If you want your customers to refer you, give them something that improves their lives. Make doing business with you an absolute pleasure. You have to win the goodwill of your existing customers if you want them to tell their network about you.
When To Ask For Referrals
Timing is key when it comes to asking for referrals:
- Don’t ask for a referral as soon as you close the deal with a customer. Wait until you’ve delivered your product or service and you know they’re satisfied.
- Never ask for a referral at a first meeting, no matter how well the meeting goes. It makes you look like you’re only in it for what you can get instead of caring about your customer’s needs. Wait till you’ve established a trusting relationship.
- Use positive interactions to your advantage. Did one of your customers just tweet how much they love your product? Did they just share something positive about you on Facebook or LinkedIn? Then it’s the perfect time to ask for a referral.
The one thing you must remember about asking for referrals is to do just that – ask. Only a handful of clients will refer you without prompting, but you’ll find many of them are quite happy to refer you if you ask them to.
Get Your Referral Script Straight
If you ask for a referral out of the blue, you run the risk of coming across unsure and unprofessional. Create some easy to remember scripts you can use – just remember to adapt them to each situation so they sound natural. Try out these:
- After a client renews their contract with you:“It’s always a pleasure to see you renewing with us. I really appreciate the relationship we’ve built over the years. Do you know of anyone else who has the same problem as you, that we could solve for them?
- After a client expresses satisfaction with the service they’ve received:“I’m delighted that you’re happy with the service you’ve received from us. You know we always take care of our clients – would you be happy to introduce us to …?”
- After a conversation about your industry or service: “Do you agree that your peers and the industry as a whole could benefit by partnering with companies who pay attention to detail and really focus on serving [industry]? We’re always looking for new people to partner with – who would you recommend I talk to?”
Make It Easy To Refer You
The easier it is to refer you, the more likely your customer is to do just that.
Making it easy starts with asking for a referral. Once your customer agrees to refer you, make it easy for them:
- If they’re going to refer you via email, offer them an email template they can use.
- If they’re going to refer you via social media, offer them a short script of what to say in their message.
- If they’re going to refer you in person or over the phone, offer them a list of key benefits to share. It’s perfectly ok to ask your customers to put in a phone call to your new prospect, if they’re happy to do that.
- Provide links or downloads that tell them the key information to pass on to their contact. Just remember to keep it short and sweet – the idea is to make it easy to refer you, not to give your customer homework.
Offer Incentives To Refer You
Let’s be honest – some customers will refer you just because they loved your service so much, but a lot of people are more likely to refer you if there’s something in it for them. That’s only natural. After all, you’re asking them to take time out of their day to do you a favour.
Think about what you could offer your customer to refer you. Perhaps a discount on their service, or a value added extra. A little compensation will go a long way towards building good will and encouraging them to refer you.
Don’t underestimate the power of flattery, either. Make your customer feel like your most valued customer. Let them know that you’re asking them for a referral because you trust their judgment when it comes to connecting you with other potential customers.
Finally, don’t just ask for referrals – be a referrer. If you know other people who could benefit from what your customers do, be sure to put in a referral for them, too. A relationship built on mutual help will encourage them to help you in the future.
Referrals are a direct route to pre-qualified leads. Just remember, every customer or colleague knows someone else in the industry or in their company they can refer you to. Keep your eye open for referral opportunities. Make referrals part of your sales process and watch your sales and your network grow.