Get referrals. It’s my second best tip for top-ten ways to selling more in less time. Let’s talk about why referrals are important and how you can obtain them.
Sales people everywhere know the ugly truth about making cold calls. It will take about 75 calls on average to make one sale. I’ve seen that get as high as 125 calls to one, and I’ve seen it as low as 60 calls to one. But when you add referrals into the mix, things start to look very different. When cold calls include referrals, I’ve seen results that range from a five-to-one ratio of calls to sales. And sometimes as high as nearly 100 percent in calls resulting in a sale.
I was just speaking with a coaching client today who told me he received four referrals last month. All closed in 30 days.
I have another client, who sent out a referral letter, received 21 referrals from one customer. She made 18 appointments and got nine sales. That’s a pretty healthy closing ratio, I’m sure you’ll agree. And it’s far better than ratios of 1:75 or 1:100…that’s for sure!
There are a number of ways that you can obtain referrals. The most obvious way, of course, is to just ask. And by that, I mean you should be very specific in your request. Don’t just ask your customers if they know anyone else who might want your product or service. Be specific about what you’re trying to do. For example: “I am trying to meet the CIO at the Acme Company. Do you know her? I’d love to be introduced to your office in Calgary. Is there a director of marketing there I could talk to?”
If you’re working in a small community or you’re asking to be referred to their peers, chances are good that people will comply. For example, the human resources community is very small. For those of you who sell to human-resource (HR) managers, you can be sure that most in a given city, including HR directors and VPs, know each other. They are all members of a community. Use that to your advantage. If you were to say to one of your VPs of HR: “I’m trying to meet the VP of HR at this other company down the street. Do you know them?” Odds are quite good that they will say yes.
Granted, there’s a time and place for open-ended questions, but this is not one of them. For those of you with teenagers at home, you’ve probably already heard your fair share open-ended questions just by listening to them trying to plan their Friday night:
Well, what do you want to do tonight?
I don’t know…what do you want to do tonight?
Well, I don’t know…what do you want to do tonight?
Be specific and ask closed-ended questions when looking for referrals. Just as important, ask on a regular basis. Don’t ever ask a customer until you have fulfilled a service or an order—wait until the order is complete so then you can take the opportunity to ask if they are satisfied by their experience.
We are rolling out our R.O.S.E program (referral only Sales explosion!) during the Sales Mastery workshop Nov 20-22 in Chicago. I hope you will consider joining us!
Sell More, Work less!