Earlier I wrote about the value of asking; “is there anything else?” Now I want to expand on that and focus on referral prospecting and a few simple steps to doing this correctly.
All the best sales professionals KNOW that referrals are the best form of leads. It is not a hard or difficult process yet most sales people don’t ask. For some there is a sense that the client has just made a commitment to buy from you and you should take the order and run out of their office ASAP! But resist the temptation.
The conversion rates between referred leads and a successful sale is substantially higher than a cold prospect. Why is this? When you contact a referral for the first time you have ‘deferred trust’. What I mean is you and the prospect have no relationship as yet, but because your client and prospect do, the prospect is prepared to give you some ‘latitude’.
There is a simple process for asking for referrals:
Look after the client’s order BEFORE you make a request
You must have completed the sale. This can be a challenge, particularly if the client volunteers referrals unprompted. I suggest you make a note and tell your prospect that you would like to come back to that in a moment, followed by an open question, which will get your sales process back on track!
Create a ‘Bridge’ to the request
When the client has made a commitment and you are satisfied with your outcome, use a ‘bridging’ technique to move towards your request. A ‘bridge’ is just a phrase or statement that allows you to introduce a new question, topic or focus. Something like;
“…John, just one more thing…”
“…Peter, while you are at your desk….”
“…Jane, before I go….”
Ask for the referral and emphasize the benefits
“…John, thank you for your order, just one more thing, who do you know who has the same needs for (highlight the benefits as your client sees them) that I would also be able to help?
The key thing here is that you are asking; “who do you know?” rather than “DO you know?” Your chances are substantially higher with the first example because ‘Do you know’ is a closed question and it is too easy to answer with a NO.