It's no secret that sales referrals are the most valuable tool for business growth, but all too often this method of outreach underutilized. Receiving sales referrals is one the sincerest and highest compliments, yet sales people frequently disengage from pursuing referrals because they fear that it will somehow spoil relationships by being intrusive. In actuality, sales referrals are earned and generating them boils down to mindset and business practice. Here are five ways to revitalize your business contacts and generate more sales referrals.
1. Make Asking for Sales Referrals A Habit
Prospecting for sales referrals is easier when it is a dedicated part of your routine. Revisit your sales process and document current strategies: Focus on how to integrate referral selling as a continuous habit. Plan to ask for sales referrals at the appropriate stage in the sales pipeline:
- After you have submitted a sales proposal and the prospect lets you know that he or she is impressed;
- When a prospect mentions that a peer was looking for solutions that your organization could provide;
- When a sale closes successfully as part of routine follow up;
- When your solution has provided value.
2. Adopt the Skills and Presentation Approaches That Support Sales Referrals
While asking for a sales referral can seem intrusive, it doesn't have to be. Make it part of the natural conversation by preparing referrals as a talking point. Let your client know that you strive for results and want to earn not only their recommendation, but an introduction as well. Include prospecting for sales referrals in the initial conversations following a successful deal. Whenever your services are complimented, thank the client and inquire if they know anyone who could benefit from your work as they have. Remember that the referrer's reputation is at hand, so earning new sales referrals must be something they feel you deserve.
3. Utilize Your Networks
Sales referrals don't come strictly come from converted clients. Outreach to business contacts and associates can also be helpful. Specify to your contacts what your services are and who you want to meet. Challenge yourself to be more outgoing at networking events and meet new people. Moreover, generously brokering your own sales references to bring contacts together can create a return sales referral (and make it easier to ask for one yourself). Think about networks that you can deploy to find more sales referrals:
- Your membership in professional and alumni associations.
- Your social networking and internet presence.
- Your professional social relationships, including your mentors and previous managers and coworkers.
4. Create and Measure Goals
Setting a defined goal guides your sales referral generation efforts: How many sales referrals were asked for weekly? Monthly? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone? How many referrals resulted from those efforts, and what new opportunities became available? Starting with simple goals and measuring them summarizes your efforts and helps further define your priorities. Increase your effectiveness to generate sales referrals by:
- Setting well defined goals to ask for a certain number of sales referrals on a weekly and a monthly basis.
- Setting expectations for how many of your asks will result in actionable referrals.
- Setting goals for following up on your referrals and track your results.
5. Demonstrate Gratitude
One of the best ways to generate sales referrals is show your gratitude. By thanking the referrer for providing their contact, you lay another building block in your professional relationship. Present gratitude appropriately, whether by note, a progress update, over a meal, or some other way. Doing so can be a capstone for a positive customer experience and prove your sincerity to your referrer. These acts also display your commitment to referral selling, bettering your chances of generating repeat sales referrals.