Most people prefer to do business with someone they know, or know of. This is why getting referrals should be part of your sales strategy. The referrals you obtain might only get you to the first stage of the sales process, such as securing a meeting, but that can be critically important. You will find the potential client has a certain level of comfort in speaking to you because you are a not a complete stranger. Of course, you still have a long way to go to establish trust, show that you can deliver what they need, and close the sale. The early stages of the sales process are much easier, however, if you are introduced personally to the potential client.
Given it is such an effective sales tool it is used surprisingly little. You can give your business the edge over your competitors by getting your sales team to generate more leads from referrals. If you have satisfied customers on your books you have nothing to lose.
Asking for Referrals
Your business won’t get referrals if the people dealing with your customers don’t ask for them. This is the first stage to making a referral sales strategy work – giving your team the confidence to ask for referrals. Sometimes the reason they are not asking for them is nervousness, so confidence building is the solution.
The timing is important too. After all, you are unlikely to see much success getting referrals if you ask for them before you have shown the client that you can deliver. Instead you should make sure the client is impressed with what you have done. After that you can ask them for some introductions.
Here are a few tips for doing it well:
- Make it as easy as possible for the client to give you the referral. Don’t expect them to fill out forms on your sales documentation or make a phone call. In fact, all you might get is a name and number, but that is usually all you need.
- If the client refuses or doesn’t respond after one or two requests, leave it. There is no point damaging a relationship with an existing client in the hope you might get another one.
- Make asking for referrals a habit. It should be ingrained in the culture of your sales team that they ask their clients for referrals. Ideally it shouldn’t be a formal or high pressure process, but the request should come up regularly and naturally.
The Best Approach
There is one approach you can use for getting referrals that has a far higher success rate than any other method. It involves giving as much as asking. In other words, recommending your clients to your friends, family, and business colleagues. Make sure your clients know it was you who made the recommendation, and do it with no strings attached.
As the person has got a lead and possibly a sale from your referral they will be much more open to recommending your business.
Referrals are not a guaranteed path to sales success, but they can help in many circumstances, particularly at the beginning of the relationship with a new client.
For more help and advice with your business please contact an advisor at Gilroy Gannon today.