Obviously one of the most common topics we address in Prospecting Weekly is that of referrals–that is–how to get them. It’s a dilemma for so many sales professionals, because the top two mistakes when seeking referrals are:
1. not asking for them, and
2. not asking for them properly.
Referrals are the life blood of all top performing sales consultants. Not only do they give you a constant source of people to talk to, they also make the sales process easier.
As I go out and continue my own education and professional development, it is often a topic I bring up with other colleagues: “How do you seek referrals?”
Recently, I asked this of Phil Sorentino, a communicator of action steps on attitude management, consultative selling, employee and customer loyalty, and business and financial results. He co-founded Humor Consultants, which helps organizations increase their bottom line, sales, and employee/customer loyalty by making work fun.
Phil believes that no matter what the outcome of a prospective client interview, you should be able to seek five new names of people with whom you can speak about your business. At the conclusion of every meeting, he presents the question: “Who do you know that might like to know more about us?”
Phil’s approach, if used religiously, will secure at least five people from your interviews.
During the course of the meeting and conversation, you are building a positive, prosperous relationship of some kind. By default, you are building trust. You are building friendship. And at some point during the interview, you ask, “Where do keep your important phone numbers?”
You are asking this question not so they can initially give you names and numbers…but so that you can ensure that they enter your contact information into their records. This is a much more proactive approach to becoming part of your new friend’s circle of influence rather than just leaving a business card. It also reinforces the notion that you are always available to them.
Now, as you end the interview, you take out a sheet of paper and ask this question: “What is the best form of advertising?”
Nine times out of ten they will say, “Word of mouth.” You say, “Right.” That is why we would like to know five people that “might like to know more about us.” Then you write five blank, numbered lines down the left side of the paper. Put your pen to #1 and shake your head up and down and say, “Most people start with friends, neighbors, relatives or people you work with.” If you have created any trust, they will come up with one name. Then, shut up. Go to #2 and shut up. If they get stuck, say “Oh, you have your directory here. Let’s flip through it.”
Make sure you get the phone number and finish by saying, “Who would you call first and why? Second, and why? “
If you do this with everyone you interview, your prospects pipeline will always be filled.
Keith F. Luscher, (Google Search) is interim business development director for The Money Foundation, an independent investment professional’s think tank and production group operating within a broker-dealer. Prior to this he served professionals in the insurance and financial services industries as a management consultant. In that role, he advised producers on issues related to marketing and prospecting, and developed groundbreaking educational curriculum. In addition, Luscher is also a nationally known author, speaker, and expert in media, interpersonal communication and marketing.