We just love those conversations where you hear the customer say ‘You know…I think such-and-such would benefit from this as well!’
That is like honey dripping from their tongue and you should grab that opportunity to ask about the person they are referring to you and make anote of their contact details. But how should you approach them? Jumping in and saying Mr X said you’d be interested might put too much pressure on them, and cause them to resist. So what’s the best way to handle this?
Imagine you call the referral and their secretary or gatekeeper answers.
You hear “Hallo, Mr Prospect’s office…can I help you?”
You “Good morning, erm, yes, my name’s Sean McPheat from MTD. John Smith, a mutual friend of Mr Prospect and mine, asked me to give him a call, and I promised that I would”
This creates a subliminal level of importance about the call in the other person’s mind.
You’ll probably get one of three responses:
Gatekeeper: “Sorry, He isn’t in”
You reply “Oh, OK, I’m sorry I can’t talk to him. Do you have his schedule, so I can talk directly to him?
Getting time frames and firm appointments with the gatekeeper is powerful in this situation. remember…you have a referral…it’s not a cold call.
Gatekeeper “Sorry, Mr Prospect’s not available. Would you like to leave a message?”
You reply “How would you recommend I do that? Would it be better to leave a voicemail or should I leave a message with you?”
Gatekeeper “Mr Prospect wants to know what it’s about”
You reply “Well, we’ve provided some very valuable services to John Smith, and he felt very strongly that I should talk to Mr Prospect”
You may be able to get through at this point, or they may ask you to send materials. Do so, and try to set a firm time to follow up and discuss opportunities with Mr Prospect.
When you get through, you can continue with something like…
“Hi, Mr Prospect, Sean McPheat here from MTD. John Smith asked me to give you a call and I promised that I would”
Remember, your sole goal is to make an appointment, and the referral source is a powerful way to get the attention of the prospect. If the prospect has no time now, ascertain if you can make your call at a more convenient time. If they have time, tell them your direct value statement and then ask for an appointment.
This is a powerful way to get hold of prospects. By emphasising the ‘asked’ and ‘promised’ in the conversation, you give yourself and the prospect the reason for the call and it creates greater rapport right from the start of the call.
Utilise the leverage that referrals give you, and you stand a greater chance of getting in front of the prospect.
MTD Sales Training
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Below are three clear and simple mistakes that sales people routinely make while prospecting. Prospecting mistakes are the most costly problems because most sales people and sales management never actually realise the full affect of prospecting errors.
What You Can Not See CAN Hurt YOU
The problem is that it is much easier to see and understand others selling issues that result in loses, such as closing mistakes, poor customer service issues, or losing sales to the competition. It is easy to spot lost sales opportunities.
However, it is far more difficult to recognise or quantify the lost in sales revenue when it comes to sales opportunities that NEVER developed in the first place, due to poor prospecting. So, please take these three prospecting mistakes to heart and avoid them at all costs because it is likely they are already costing you more money than you can imagine.
#3 – Failure to Get Referrals
Not getting enough referrals; especially getting referrals from the prospects that do not buy, is a killer. You must become and expert at getting referrals and if you are already good at this, then practice getting more.
#2 – Selling the Product or Service Prematurely
Prospecting is but a set in the sales process, and it is not the close. However, far too many sales people confuse prospecting with closing. In that I mean, when they should be qualifying the prospect, or identifying the decision maker ort just setting an appointment—they are trying to sell the product.
When a prospect objects to an appointment, you need to sell the appointment and not the product. Avoid falling into the trap of trying to sell your product or service during the prospecting stages.
#1 – Poor Record Keeping and Customers Relationships Management
The most costly prospect mistake is the lack of effective record keeping. Most sales people overlook the importance of keeping accurate sales-activity records. Prospects that slip through the cracks are often the difference between success and failure. Prospects you forgot to call, emails you failed to send or lost leads, are a fraction of what slips through your fingers. If you are using post-it notes, an A4 pad, memory or the back of a cigarette packet for prospecting, you are losing money!
Avoid these costly prospecting mistakes and keep your sales funnel fill.
MTD Sales Training
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Some sales people have trouble asking for and getting referrals from prospects that buy, and even from long term clients. However, the majority of sales people have a serious problem when it comes to obtaining referrals from those prospects that do not buy. Here are a couple of tips to help you get more referrals from those, “No-Sales.”
#1. Ask for referrals before the close
Where does it say that you can only ask for referrals at the end of the sales interaction? Ask for referrals early in the sales process and before you ask for the order. After you ask for the order, a certain amount of tension ensues. If the closing goes badly, you are now losing the opportunity to get referrals while the prospect still has a good feeling about you. Ask for referrals early.
#2. Do not look for lay-down sales
The main problem sales people have in asking for referrals from the no-sale prospect, is that they are looking for referrals to potential sales; people who will buy, or who are guaranteed to be interested in the product or service. This is a mistake. For a referral, all you should be looking for is a qualified lead; not a lay down sale. Remember, and help the prospect to understand that all you are looking for is an introduction…that’s all. Neither the prospect, nor you should be thinking about anybody buying anything at this point. Do not try to skip steps in the sales process. Ask for an introduction to those who are qualified to do business with you, and then do your job.
Sales Person: “Ms Prospect, if one of your business associates walked in the door right now, would you introduce me to him or her and tell them what I do?”
Prospect: “Of course.”
Sales Person: “Well, since they may not walk in the door while I am here, can you jot down the names of a few of those people you would introduce me to if they did come by? Please, don’t worry about if they would be interested in buying. I make my living from meeting people and explaining what I do, just as I am doing here with you…”
#3. Use the fact that the prospect did not buy, along with the value of the meeting
Riding on the heels of Tip #2, remind the prospect that he or she should not be thinking about referring only people they believe will have an interest or will buy. Use the fact that the prospect also did not buy, as proof. Also, build and use the value of the meeting on its own merits.
Sales Person: “Mr Prospect, again I really appreciate your time here today. And even though you decided to hold off on the purhcase, did you find the information I give you to be beneficial to you? I mean did you gain some valuable insight from our meeting?”
Prospect: “Oh yes. You gave me a lot to think about and showed me a few things I never knew before…”
Sales Person: “Well, that is really the essence of my job, Mr Prospect; to give people valuable information that will help them. From that information, some people move ahead and hire my services, while some people, even like youself, may not. But everyone benefits from a meeting with me, as you can see. With that thought in mind…”
You get the idea.
Ask for referrals before the close.
Don’t look for referrals that are lay-downs, and promote the value of the meeting itself.
Finanlly, and this is the hard part: When you get those referrals from the no-sale interactions…CALL THEM!
Bestselling Author, Sales Authority & Speaker On Modern Day Selling Methods
Good referrals can make the career of a sales professional a thousand times easier and more profitable. Everyone knows the value of a good referral, yet so many sales people have problems getting referrals. Following are three very effective tips to help you get more referrals right now.
#1: Ask Before the Close
Most sales people have a real problem asking for referrals from prospects who do not buy. Once the sales person attempts to close the sale and gets objections, the “battle” is on. The sales person does everything to try to get the business right then and fails. At this point, the sales person is not very happy with this prospect and does not feel comfortable or confident in asking for referrals. In addition, the prospect may now feel uneasy due to the persistent closing attempts of the sales person. The prospect does not want to put that same “pressure” on friends or associates.
The Solution: Ask for referrals during the sales interaction and long before you ask for the order. Once you ask for the order, a certain amount of tension ensues, no matter what—it is natural. So ask early in the sales interaction. Ask for the referrals when the prospect still has a great and positive impression of you and visa versa. Plan a time to get referrals early in the sales interaction before the pressure of closing the sales comes into play.
#2: Just an Introduction
Remember that when you ask for a referral, you are only asking for an introduction. You are not asking the prospect for people who they think will buy your product or service. However, that feeling of a referral being a willing buyer, always surrounds the referral obtaining process.
The Solution: One way to help the prospect relax and understand that all you want is an introduction is to phrase the referral questions something like this:
Sales Rep:“Mr and Mrs Prospect; if your neighbours walked in the door right now, would you introduce me to them? I mean would you say, “This is Steve with ABC Widgets…” and allow me to shake their hand?
Prospect: “Of course we would.”
Sales Rep: “Well, that is actually how I make a living, Mr and Mrs Prospect. I meet people and shake their hands. From that, some people buy widgets and some do not, but it really doesn’t matter who does and who doesn’t. My main job is to meet and shake hands. So, not knowing how many of your neighbours might walk in the door tonight, while I put this proposal together, could you take a few minutes and jot down the names of a few of those neighbours who you would introduce me to, so I might shake their hand?”
#3: Pay the Prospect for Referrals
Getting referrals is the perfect way to offer a discount. Offer to pay for referrals. You have been trying to close as the prospect continues to object. However, you feel that if you reduced your price by a small amount, it would clinch the deal. Do not just give away the money. Add value to your product or service and pay for referrals to lower the price. If you’ve already obtained lots of referrals obtained many referrals during the sales interaction, then offer the discount for the prospect to call and help you secure an appointment with one or more of those referrals.
Ask for referrals and you will get them.
MTD Sales Training
I received an interesting question from a lady named Stephanie, who asks, “If I get a referral from someone, how do I explain that to the gatekeeper without sounding too long?”
Referrals are always the best way to get your name known in a company, because you have a specific reason for calling and it is not a dreaded cold-call.
If you know who you want to speak to and you are going to benefit that person, you can get straight to the point with the gatekeeper.
It should go something like this: “Good morning, my name’s Stephanie and I’m from ABC Ltd. I’ve been doing business with (referral) for some time and she asked me to call (Mr Buyer) as she knows we have something of interest for him. Please could you put me through?’
You don’t have to over-elaborate or go into great detail with the gate-keeper. Something short and straight to the point is all that’s necessary.
Here’s something similar…”Hi, this is Stephanie from ABC Ltd. Jo Smith from XYZ asked me to call (Mr Buyer). Could you help me by putting me through to him, please?’
That way, you are getting straight to the point and giving a specific reason for you to be put through to the person you wish to talk to. If the gatekeeper knows Company XYZ, or (even better) Jo Smith from XYZ, they have a good reason to connect you.
There isn’t any real need to go into great detail with the gatekeeper. They are there to filter out calls, but your call is one that doesn’t need to be filtered and you don’t have to ramble on about how you got the referral or how interested the buyer would be in talking to you because you helped the referrer’s business.
No, you just need to make it clear that you have this reason for calling and that the buyer (or your prospect) will benefit from speaking to you.
Hope that helps, Stephanie.
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training
How to Ask for Referrals from Satisfied Clients
I have seen and heard tons of techniques and tricks on how to ask for referrals from your customers. But I have to tell you that most of those so-called golden nuggets are actually outdated, old-school pitch-mentality approaches to working with updated, modern and sophisticated consumers.
I am going to make this short and sweet, because asking for referrals from your clients should be a natural and comfortable act and not some slick technique. The whole problem is in the way you THINK about asking for referrals. Most sales people still have a wrong way of thinking about this and it is the same misunderstanding about the thinking about setting appointments.
The average sales person, when thinking about asking for referrals is thinking about asking for potential customers. They are thinking about who can the customer refer to them who may possibly buy the product or service, and this is a mistake. This thinking is skipping the steps in the sales process.
When setting appointments, many sales people have this same problem in that they are looking for people who are “ready to buy” instead of setting appointments with those who are simply “qualified to buy.” They are selling the product or service over telephone instead of selling the appointment.
Likewise, when thinking about referrals, sales people are looking for a “ready made customer” instead of a possibly qualified prospect. This thinking makes the whole thing uncomfortable and unnatural: you are asking the customer to give you the name and number of someone whom you are going to go and ask for money and you are going to use their name to do it!
The customer is not comfortable doing that and you are not comfortable asking them.
Change your thinking about asking for referrals.
Look at it this way:
If you where sitting in your client’s office and one of their business associates walk in the door; would that client introduce you to that associate? Would they also tell them what you do, what company you work for? Of course they would. It is natural and comfortable. You are not asking for any money—it is an introduction—that’s all! And that is all you are asking for: an introduction.
Also, if you are indeed a professional; an expert in your industry, then let’s not forget that when you meet with a prospective customer and do a sales presentation or consultation, you impart an enormous amount of beneficial industry information to that prospect. You provide a useful and profitable education for the prospect which will help them regardless of if they buy or not. And you do it for FREE!
“Mr. Client, you remember when we first met and I presented all of that information? I helped you see exactly how your older electrical system was costing you a ton of money. Well, that is my job; to help business owners see what is hurting their bottom line. I would like to meet some of your associates so that I can share the same money saving information with them…”
Do not skip steps in the sales process.
Do not sell the product or service.
Do not look for “lay-down-sales.”
Look for introductions. Change YOUR thinking on asking for referrals and it will change your client’s thinking on giving them to you!
MTD Sales Training