I was surprised when one of the clients I’ve been working with for close to 10 years asked me to discuss referral selling for a sales roundtable I was going to facilitate for them. I was surprised because this client is exceptional at what they do: millions of dollars in services and their top salespeople are constantly hitting records.
I have to applaud this team for wanting to be better in referral selling because referrals will dramatically improve sales effectiveness and efficiency.
What Are Best Practices for Referral Selling?
It’s first important to remember the multiple kinds of referrals:
- Inside referrals: referrals where you ask the customer to refer you to another department or division inside their organization—the easiest referrals to get
- Outside referrals: referrals where you ask your customers to refer you to their suppliers, partners, customers, or businesses outside of their own
- Centre of influence referrals: referrals that involve someone inside the organization or association—could be a banker, lawyer, accountant—that has influence within your client base. This type of referral does not require to be a customer of yours. They’re someone who is a revered influencer in the marketplace
Regardless of the type of referrals you are asking for, you have to be specific. You cannot merely ask these sources for who they know or who they can refer you to. You need a clear picture of who that person is. Ideally, you ask them for a referral to a specific company or person because those referrals are very difficult to say no to.
More importantly, indeed, always have a picture in mind of which specific individual or company you would like to be referred to—those are the best kinds of referrals.