In part 1 and part 2 of this blog post series, we have established that referrals are the lifeblood of sales. We talked about how well-intentioned sales reps are toward securing referrals, yet how often they fail at actually getting them. We went on to discuss the best time during the sales cycle to go after referrals and then covered the methodology for accomplishing this, concluding with the need to acquire stamp-of-approval introductions from the referrer.
Today I will conclude this three-part missive with a couple of ideas on what to do after you have made contact with newly secured referrals.
5. It’s never a good idea to just say thank you for receiving several referrals, and then disappear without a trace. You should continually follow up and share the ongoing results of each contact with your referrer, whether the results were good or poor. It’s possible that the referrer can help you with those that may be hard to reach or hard to move.
For example, you might call your customer and mention:
“Hey Calvin, I’ve attempted to get together with Sally three times, but have been unsuccessful. I’ve left three messages but haven’t heard back from her yet. Is it possible she is on vacation or has had a family emergency?”
Calvin might respond by saying, “No, I don’t think so. That’s really strange. I’ll make it a point to speak to her on Wednesday at our weekly networking luncheon and see if I can find out what’s up. I’ll shoot you an email and let you know what I discover.”
Remember that when Calvin gives referrals, these are “his people”. He wants them to talk with you, and he is the key, so don’t be shy if you need his help. When you do, continually brag about the quality of the people he has recommended, and that you would love more referrals just like them.
Additionally, every time you either sell or fail with one of the referrals, make sure to let your referrer know about that outcome, and again boast to him or her about how great these folks were.
Finally, if your company participates in a referral incentive program, make sure that you personally handle the delivery of any and all incentive payments. The worst thing that can happen to your referral efforts is ill will generated by non-payment of an earned incentive.
6. To this point we have devoted our attention to securing referrals from new customers, as they come on board, but don’t forget about your existing customer base. There are, no doubt countless numbers of them at you firm, most sold by reps who have either been promoted or moved on to other pastures. I call these customers “orphaned”, and would recommend that you begin to “adopt” them. As you do, they will be happy to get some attention, and within a reasonable period of time will become great candidates for providing referrals.
Once you begin to make this happen, these customers should be re-contacted several times each year, considering that they will acquire new neighbors, new members at their churches, clubs, and social organizations; and new colleagues at their workplaces. This can create a new and continuous referral stream that will reduce the number of cold calls needed to help produce sales appointments that you need to hit and exceed your ongoing sales budgets.
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