Many sales people don’t believe that their industry allows for referrals. This myth typically happens because people expect referrals to fall in their lap. When referrals don’t come in, they assume that referrals are just not possible in their business. The fact is that there are very few industries where referrals just happen. The rest of us have to work at them. Be proactive in looking for referrals. When salespeople help the referral process move forward, they find that referrals are a great way to find new prospects.
Referrals should not be a reactive prospecting activity. Clients and associates are not actively looking to refer people to you. Does this happen in some businesses? Sure it does, but only those where prospects are frequently asking for referrals. For the rest of us, we need to engage our spheres of influence (all the contacts that we have – family, friends, business associates, clients, etc.). First, let them know what your ideal prospect looks like. Many times our clients and associates truly don’t know. The second step is simple but often overlooked. Ask them for referrals! There is no rule that states salespeople can’t ask clients and associates if they know anyone that might benefit from their product or service. Of all the people in our spheres of influence, 20% will give us referrals without asking, 20% won’t give a referral even if asked. That leaves 60% of our contacts that will give a referral if we have sense enough to ask them for it. Target these people with a systematic way of harvesting referrals and you’ll be surprised how well referrals can work.
Make a referral tree for yourself. Mark down all those individuals who might have a good referral for you and set a goal for how many referrals you would like to get from them. It has to be at least two. Once you close business from those referrals branch off from that second tier and set a goal for getting referrals from them. If you keep this going you will see how a handful of people can make a big number of prospects and then prospects lead to more prospects. The key is that you have to start asking. Your contacts won’t remember to refer business to you unless a prospect asks about your service, which happens rarely in many businesses. So ask them who might benefit from speaking with you. It doesn’t hurt to ask and when we ask consistently, we will get referrals consistently.