How to Get Referrals
Referrals—otherwise known as getting someone you know to give you warm leads to new prospects—are valuable for salespeople in all industries. Yet it's incredible how few salespeople actively canvass for referrals.
Studies show that a salesperson is six times more likely to close a sale to a referred lead as opposed to a cold lead. That means you can generate six times as many sales if you focus on getting referrals than if you spent that time cold calling! A huge increase in sales and, as a bonus, less cold calling to do—what more can you ask for? And if you open your eyes, you'll see opportunities for referrals all around you.
Your own customers are the easiest and friendliest referral source. In fact, if you treat them right, they may well go out and do some selling for you! That's when you get those wonderful windfall calls from someone's co-worker or uncle saying, “I hear you sell the best widgets in town. I'd like to buy 40 of them.”
Don't wait for your customers to do all the work for you—pick up the phone and ask for the referral, or send them a referral request letter. It's a good idea anyway to check in with your customers a few weeks or months after the sale. You can ask them how they're enjoying the product, find out if they have any questions, and then pop the question: “Who else do you know who can benefit from this product, as you have?”
Just after you've closed a sale with someone is the best time to get referrals from them, because they're excited about their new purchase. Some salespeople are nervous about asking for referrals at this point because they just want to get out of there in case the prospect changes their mind! Well, don't worry about this. Unless you've used high-pressure tactics to intimidate someone into buying (don't do this) your new customer is probably thrilled and enthusiastic. Hit them up now, while their energy is at its peak!
Prospects You Couldn't Close
If you pitch a prospect and they turn you down, don't just bolt out the door. Get a referral or two, and you'll have changed a loss into a win.
You're probably shaking your head and thinking, “That's crazy-talk. Why would a person who wouldn't even buy from me give me referrals?” A lot of sales fall through not because the prospect hates you or your product, but because they just aren't a good fit. In that case, it's the perfect opportunity to find out if they know someone who is a good fit. Don't assume the prospect hates you and your product—after all, you have nothing to lose by asking!
Literally, anyone you meet under any circumstances can give you a referral. After all, the average person knows in excess of 250 other people. Do you really think that none of those hundreds of people are a good fit for your products? Of course not. Ask everyone—your dry-cleaner, your accountant, your neighbor, even the person standing behind you in the supermarket checkout. You'll be amazed at how many leads will drop into your lap as a result of a brief conversation.