By Scott Gruher, Sales Benchmark Index
The goal of prospecting – gain access to a high quality potential buyer.
A lot has changed in sales over the past 50 years. One thing hasn’t. Referrals continue to be the highest quality leads. However, most sales organizations are awful at generating referrals. I will explain why.
3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Enough Quality Referrals:
1. Accountability – your team can ask for them. The customer will tell you he’s done it, but you never know for sure.
2. Not Effective – no process exists. When sales people have to invent their own method each time, they ignore it. Or they ask, but they don’t ask with a specific buyer in mind. This leads to poor quality referrals.
3. Reach – Not casting a wide enough net. Sales people focus on easy referral methods that don’t produce enough referrals.
Due to these three factors, Sales Leaders look for other lead generation sources. They don’t view referrals as a source capable of producing enough leads. There is no question the quality is superior to any other source.
There are 5 methods to generate referrals:
1. Happy Customer – you do a great job so I will refer you. Good source, but not enough quantity.
2. By another vendor- another vendor refers you into a customer with hopes that you return the favor. I scratch your back and you scratch mine. Good source, but not enough quantity. Also, most reps don’t scratch back and this source dies off.
3. From a friend – who do you know that I can talk to? This source usually doesn’t produce enough referrals.
4. For a prize – “give us a name and we give you”. This one may drive high quantities, but the quality is typically lower. People give you garbage names for a prize.
5. Social – an online connection. Why is social so effective at generating referrals? Social gives you visibility, access, and reach.
We will focus on social because it creates the largest quantity of quality leads.
Why Social Rises to the Top
1. Visibility – unlike many of the methods listed above, you can specifically target potential buyers. When you ask customers for referrals, they say, “I can’t think of anyone”. Instead, ask them to introduce you to Bob Smith at Acme. Provide the introduction language as well. Being specific makes it easy for them to execute for you.
Here is an example of a poor referral request:
2. Access – LinkedIn provides multiple paths to each buyer. You can ask for an introduction through each path until you are successful. This increases your chances of reaching the buyer. And since LinkedIn is not a clogged channel, people respond to your requests more often.
3. Reach – you can build a large database of referral sources. You can organize this database with the LinkedIn contacts functionality. These referral sources have connections that you can view and so on. Most of your buyers use LinkedIn. It is just a matter of building a strategy to get introduced.
5 Steps to Obtain Referrals as a Form of Lead Generation:
1.Identify Referral Source
2.Build Referral Database
3.Create Social Debt
Interested in Getting Started?
Referrals are a powerful source of leads. First, you have to create great LinkedIn profiles and build your network. This requires a systematic approach. Second, you need a referral process in place to ensure the team executes properly. Building a great referral program that is widely adopted by the field is not easy. Third, you need to ensure it is enabled with the right technology. LinkedIn is the best way to enable a referral program. Good luck.