Upgrading Your Referrals

When receiving a referral, most salespeople are quite happy to get a name and a number to call.  They thank the referring source and then start the process of making a cold call on the (often unsuspecting) referral.  This is usually a frustrating process that yields poor results.

A better way is to “upgrade” your referrals.  Here’s how.

When you get a referral from someone, here are a few steps to follow with the referring source:

  • Probe for pain:  “What business challenges does she have that you think I could help her with?”
  • Solicit their help in making the initial call:  “Would you feel comfortable calling her to see if she wants to speak with me?”  (Let the referring source make the cold call for you.  It will save you time, and the referring source will have better luck getting through than you will.)
  • Try for an introduction:  “What would you think about the three of us having lunch one day.  I’ll buy.”  (If you can get a personal introduction, the referring source will be your best advocate and will do much of the “selling” for you.)

Get as far as you can in upgrading your referrals.  Simply getting a name and a number will give you less than a 5% conversion rate, while an introduction will be 50% or higher.

Give More to Get More

Referring should not be a one-sided activity.  The more referrals you give, the more you will get.  There should always be something in it for your referring source.  For example:

  • Try to provide them with referrals in return.  Make a point of asking your clients whom they would like to be introduced to and see if you can help them.
  • You can make them look good if your product or service benefits the referral.
  • You might provide a reward such as lunch or a small token of appreciation.
  • You could pay a referral fee (assuming their company, and yours, has no policy against it).
  • They’ll feel good about helping someone.

Self-Study Assignment:  Think back on the last few referrals you received.  How many times did you miss the chance to “upgrade” them?  How much more successful might you have been with that little bit of extra effort?  Make upgrading your referrals a regular part of your approach from now on.