One of the questions we get a lot from our President’s Club Members at Sandler Training Seattle is “When is the best time to ask for a referral?” The short answer is – Always. Why? Because the best way to grow sales and stop having to make cold calls is to build your referral tree.
That said, there are five crucial opportunities during the sales process, from prospecting to servicing the account, every salesperson must capitalize on to work smarter, not harder at growing sales.
- Networking – You just met someone at a networking event. After a few minutes of talking, you decide the person isn’t a good prospect for you. Before you move on to the next conversation, ask for an introduction to someone they know who might be a good fit for you.
- Cold Calls – This is the one most people push back on. You’ve just cold called the CEO or owner of your target company. You didn’t identify enough pain for the prospect to invite you in for an appointment. Was this a failed call? Not if you ask for a referral. You can’t lose what you don’t already have. So, why not go for it?
- Closed Deals – The customer will never be happier with you than at the time you just rescued them from their pain with your product or service. It’s a great time to ask your new customer who he/she knows who might also be experiencing the same pain you just solved for him/her.
- Lost Deals – Just as in the cold call situation, you can’t lose what you don’t already have. You just spent time getting to know the prospect, his pain, budget and decision-making process. Perhaps you’ve determined this prospect is not qualified to do business with you. You may not be a good fit to work together, but he/she may know someone who is. Ask!
- Customer Contacts – As you check in with your customers to make sure they are happy with the service you’ve been providing, ask for referrals to other businesses. Any time a customer compliments you, your company or your service, is an excellent opening for a referral conversation.
Building your referral tree is critical to your success in sales. Next time you are in one of the above situations, be bold and ask “Which one of your business associates should I speak with who might also appreciate the kind of service we provide for you?” Or, “Of all your business contacts, who is most likely to be interested in my service?” This contact, prospect or customer becomes the trunk of your referral tree, and the names he or she gives you become the branches. Are you ready to start planting more referral trees?
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