I know what you’re thinking. The title to this post is a living, breathing oxymoron! Think back to the last years worth of sales calls. How many times have you asked for a referral? We ask for referrals when we network with other salespeople; we ask satisfied clients if they wouldn’t mind posting a comment about our services on Linked-In. Why don’t we ask prospects and/or customers for referrals?
- We don’t know how
- We have mortal fear of asking
- We’ve never been taught
If you’ve just closed a deal and the customer has a smile on their face then ask this question. “Jim, thanks for your trust in ACME Birdhouses; it will be a pleasure doing business with you. Do you mind if I ask a rather straightforward question? (People will always answer something like ‘no, go ahead’ to this.) Jim, you no doubt have a good network of business acquaintances; can you think of a business owner who might be interested in knowing about our birdhouses?” Let the silence build until you think you’ll pop an artery. The customer will answer. I will wager to say that 8 times out of 10 you’ll get a name or names.
But, whoa. You’re not done yet! Ask Jim if he would mind calling this individual to let him or her know that you’ll be calling them. Granted, this falls under the category of mental toughness but what have you got to lose? If the customer says he can’t think of someone then thank him and drive on.
If this works-and it does-for new customers then why not ask a prospect who isn’t going to buy? You might start off with a slightly different lead sentence but the back end of the question will remain the same. I’ll bet you even money that either the new customer or the prospect who said no wishes that their salespeople asked for referrals on their sales calls.
Here’s my last bit of advice. Role-play this a few times before you use it. Be concise with the words you use and look the person square in the eyes using a strong, confident voice.
The Final Thought: In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance. Bo Bennett