Sales Acceleration with Referrals

This week’s blog is by Drew Stevens PhD, one of the worlds leading experts in sales and sales skills, and author of Split Second Selling and the soon to be released Ultimate Business Bible – 12 Strategies for Ultimate Success. 

Many organizations dismiss referrals. Because entrepreneurs and other business professionals are so busy, they often forget to ask for them. However, referrals decrease costs while increasing lead generation possibilities.

We currently live in a world where customer-to-customer influences are extremely vital. It was only 10 to 15 years ago when consumers needing products or services researched using the Yellow Pages. Today, consumers typically use the Internet and search engines such as Google to find information about required products and services. They typically seek counsel from friends, colleagues, and peers who have done business with needed vendors. The rationale here is that consumers want to immediately trust those that you trust. For example, if your parent or immediate family member were ill, would it be more useful to look up a position in the Yellow Pages, conduct an Internet search, or simply call someone you trust?

In addition, with the increased use of social networks, consumers are speaking positively and negatively about vendors they have done business with. Therefore it is imperative that if you sell for a living you ensure that your name and brand are in good standing so that you can obtain third-party endorsements from those who trust you.

Dispelling The Myths Of Referrals
Many entrepreneurs and business professionals believe that they do not have enough time to obtain referrals. This could not be further from the truth. If consumers are happy in doing business with you, they are more apt to give you a referral. All you must do is ask. Later in this chapter I will provide you with the tools necessary to help you ask for those referrals. For now just remember that if you want a referral, you need to ask.

Second, there are those who believe if you do a good job, a consumer is more than likely to provide you with referrals. This is not so. If you want a referral, you need to ask. Never make an assumption in business for which you truly do not know the answer. The only way for a consumer to provide you with a referral is for them to see the value and for you to askfor it.

Third, there are some individuals who believe that referrals lead to nothing. In other words, there is no correlation to future business. That may or may not be true. Just because you’ve received a referral from a present client, this does not guarantee business.The referral needs to be worked just like any new prospect.
Four, many individuals believe that getting referrals is easy. This also is false. Referrals are obtained only when a present or former client truly understands the value that you provide and promotes that to others. Referrals are not an easy business; they are merely a gateway to newer opportunities. Using referrals circumvents your need to spend obscene amounts of money on marketing and advertising to obtain leads.

When To Ask For A Referral
One of the biggest mistakes when trying to obtain a referral is deciding when. Most business professionals typically wait for the conclusion of the sale, and days and weeks after, before even asking. If you want business you need to ask for it. Those who are passive do not get what they seek. Those who are more proactive will get what they want every time.
Proactivity means asking the client for a referral at the moment of value impact. Value impact is that that moment when the client understands the value that you provide and is ready and willing to do business with you. You understand the objectives that need to be delivered and the client sees the return on investment from your value. This is the best time to ask because the sale has hit its peak. Waiting until after contract signature, invoicing, or any other post-sale meeting provides too much time for cognitive dissonance. This is the time when clients think negatively about the product or service and might want to change their mind.

In part two of this article I will discuss the best places to seek out referrals. Stay tuned.
© 2011. Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.

Drew Stevens Ph.D. President of Stevens Consulting Group is one of those very rare sales management and business development experts with not only 28 years of true sales experience but advanced degrees in sales productivity. Not many can make such as claim. Drew works with sales managers and their direct reports to create more customer centric relationships that dramatically drive new revenues and new clients. He is the author of Split Second Selling and the founder and coordinator of the Sales Leadership Program at Saint Louis University. Contact him today at 877-391-6821.