How should salespeople ask for referrals? If more sales reps and their managers knew that answer to that question (and studies show they don’t), their sales results would improve dramatically!
Referrals are considered by many in the sales profession to be the most valued and effective lead source available. After all, this is when one happy customer says to another that they should buy from you. When you think about it, isn’t this what social media sharing is all about?
Given their effectiveness, I was shocked to learn, according to the results of a survey published by sales strategist and best-selling author, Marc Wayshak, very few salespeople actually ask for referrals. Of the 400 sales people Marc surveyed, 60% of respondents reported asking for fewer that one referral per month, with 40% reporting they rarely ask. For more shocking sales stats from Mark’s survey, check out 5 sales stats every sales rep and manager should know.
Although I can’t say for sure why more salespeople don’t ask for referrals, I think it’s because few have ever been trained on when or how or to properly do so. The key is to receiving referrals on a consistent basis is to make asking for them a standard step in your sales process. In other words, when you close one sale, always make sure you give yourself the opportunity to start another.
Make Asking for Referrals Part of Your Sales Process
As I discuss in detail in my book, Action Plan For Sales Success, conduct an After Sale Follow Up Call with you customer within 30 days of delivering your product or service. The primary objective of the meeting is to ensure that that the customer is satisfied with you and your company, and that he is achieving the benefits of the solution you said he would achieve if he bought from you.
Start by asking, “Mr. Customer, it has been about a month since we completed our solution. In your opinion, do you feel we accomplished what we set out to do? Are you satisfied with our product and service?”
If the customer is having a problem, don’t hide, just fix it and fix it immediately. In fact, studies show the customer will be more loyal to you in the long run if you solve the problem quickly and efficiently than if the problem never occurred in the first place.
How Do You Ask For Referrals?
More likely, however, the customer will tell you he is satisfied and why. Then and only then, should you ask for referrals.
In my experience, here is the key phrase in teaching how salespeople should ask for referrals.
“Mr. Customer, I am very pleased you are very happy with the benefits that you have received from our product. Can you name 5 other associates or companies you do business with that may also benefit from a similar solution? Whom should I contact? May I tell them that I was recommended by you?”
Note the request is for a specific number of contacts. If you ask for some, you’ll get none; ask for 3, you’ll get 1; ask for 5 and you’ll get 3. Sometimes, even though your customer is very willing to refer you, no one will come to mind immediately. “No problem, Mr. Customer. I have asked you out of the blue and you may need to give it some thought. Here is a form you can jot your contacts down on when they come to mind. I will check back to you next week to pick it up.”
The Bottom Line on How Salespeople Should Ask for Referrals
The After Sales Follow Up Call with a new customer is just one aspect of complete lead referral program. For more details on turning your happy customers into ongoing referral resources, download our free white paper, 6 Steps to Building a Powerful Lead Referral Program in 30 Days from the B2B Sales Connections Free Download Centre.
Regardless of when you receive the referrals, it is very important that you let you customer know the result of your contact with the referral afterwards. “Mr. Customer, I just want to give you a quick phone call to thank you for your referral to Fred Smith. I contacted him today, and we will be meeting next week to discuss how I can help.” Customers appreciate this type of call so much that you often will receive another referral before you hang up the phone!
Remember, a long-term business relationship is much more profitable that a one-shot deal.
Do you have a question about sales? You’re not alone. Most sales people have questions like this on how they can sell more. For the right answers, check out my book, Ask the Sales Coach-Practical Answers to the Questions Sales People Ask Most.
Whether it’s accelerating your LinkedIn networking, creating an email drip marketing campaign, making your introductory phone calls, or a combination of the above, B2B Sales Connections develops the most effective lead generation program, customized for you to grow your business.