Commerce: You are preferred if you are referred
Would you let a stranger into your house or trust your kids’ care to a stranger? Most of us have locks on our doors to keep strangers and thieves out. At a minimum, we interview prospective babysitters from reputable sources if ever we trust our kids with anyone other than longtime acquaintances or relatives. Business owners and managers often treat their companies just as they do their babies and houses, by keeping access to their companies locked up, and only allowing access to the most trusted people.
The power of a referral is that it helps you get past the locks of gatekeepers and suspicion that most business owners either unknowingly or very knowingly have built up around their businesses. Generating more referrals is on the wish list of most sales people, since it helps save time and lots of money that otherwise is required for prospecting and cold calling activities. The top sales people often utilize many of the following techniques to increase their chance of meeting with decision makers who are open to what they have to offer.
The first step is to make sure that your customers are fully aware of what you do and what all your capabilities are. It never ceases to amaze me how often I have traveled with sales reps who have been calling on customers for years when I suggest something to the customer that I know is available through the sales person and the customer says that they never knew the item or service was offered. Remember, it’s not who you know but who knows what you do that will lead to extra sales.
Sometimes you deliver results to your client or customer and they are happy with the outcome but may not know about the entire behind-the-scenes work that was involved in getting them the solution to their problem. If they were aware of all the effort, ingenuity and care that went into your work, they may appreciate it more and be more willing to talk positively about you to their friends and business connections. Certainly, you shouldn’t bore them or annoy them with all the details all the time, but when you do something out of the ordinary or give an extra special effort, don’t be afraid to mention it. If you don’t, no one but you will know how special your efforts and skills really are.
Another technique to use is to block off 10 to 15 minutes at the end of each client or customer meeting to spend some quality time with them to think of other people they know who might be helped or who could gain from your products or services. Communicate your intention to do this ahead of time so they can be prepared and are willing to help. Most people are more than willing to help you once in a while. If you don’t overuse this technique, you will be pleasantly surprised by the number and quality of leads you can generate.
The best type of referral or introduction is one that is made by your customer or client on your behalf. If this can be done in person or over the phone, it is much more effective than simply getting someone’s card and a suggestion that you should call them. When your customers and clients understand the value of this and you reciprocate for them, you generate very powerful endorsements that automatically get you past many of the “Who are you? Where are you from? And what is it you are selling?” questions. You can now concentrate on how you can help and on building a meaningful relationship.
Finally, remember that the more value you can add or generate for your client or customer, the more likely they are to think positively about you and to refer you to others who could use your help. Even if you won’t make a sale, you can help by offering ideas, suggestions or contacts that will make someone’s job or life easier and more fun or more productive. When you selflessly offer help, you will be appreciated and you will build your relationship. The faster and more often you can do this, the more often you will get referred. As you get referred more often, your network and sales will grow with less effort and you will make more money and enjoy better, more meaningful relationships.
About the author: Scott Francis is the president of Topline Development marketing consulting and co-founder of Snap Lab Media™, the marketer of SnapTRAC™ software as a service for advertising agencies and larger enterprises that rapidly builds mobile websites, generates QR codes and provides analytics without the need for programmers. Visit SnapLabmedia.com, call (920) 722-1317 or email Scott at Scott@SnapLabMedia.com.