How to Increase Your Referral Sales (includes a phone script)
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Referral sales are a conversation you should have with every client. Notice I didn’t say prospect, because I feel you need to have a good working relationship with the customer or client before you have this conversation.
If you’ve downloaded the Sales Transformation Road-map, a proven strategy to guide you on the steps to becoming a more successful salesperson, today’s article would fit in with the people in stages 2 and 3 who are identifying your challenges and obstacles and learning to evaluate your sales.
What is one of the easiest, but most overlooked sales lead sources?
Any guesses? Referral Sales – people that you have served in the past that are so pleased with you they feel comfortable sharing you with people they know.
Based on a Nielsen survey, referrals are four times more likely to buy from you then a cold call, because you’ve already had an introduction and a personal recommendation from someone they trust.
Yet according to Dale Carnegie, only 11% of sales people ask for referrals. And 91% of customers say they would gladly give a referral if they were asked. That makes you think, doesn’t it?
Word-of-mouth has always been the most effective form of advertising, whether you are in a small town area or an online seller. If you’re good, word gets around.
In fact, 20 to 50% of purchasing decisions are based on word-of-mouth.
Here are six tips that you can utilize to get more referral sales.
1. Overcome your fear of asking for a referral —
or just remember to ask. I can’t tell you how many times after a customer left, I thought to myself – damn, I forgot to talk about referrals with them! Maybe I didn’t ask because I was afraid of asking, maybe I really just forgot.
But I have learned that if something is important to you, you will remember it. If it’s not important, you’ll tend to forget, or is it just me?
Asking for a referral is like asking for a sale – if you don’t ask, it probably won’t happen. Asking for referrals feels even more personal than asking for a sale – but once I started to ask and saw my sales start to increase, I figured it out. Currently, about 30% of my business comes from referral sales. And when a referral buys from you, they are more likely to give you another referral.
2. Start a referral sales program with your clients.
Or have a contest, where the person that gives you the most referrals over a 2 to 3 month gets a very nice dinner for two somewhere special. Or a discount on something else they wanted to buy from you. Create excitement with your quarterly contest. For every customer that gives you a referral, give them a small gift card to their favorite store. Be creative, but get people to come back to you-build that customer loyalty, and make sure that when someone refers someone to your company did they ask for you!
Make it fun and remind them periodically about your referral program with a quick text or email. You never know who someone knows until you ask.
3. Set a goal for how many referral sales conversations you will have
in a day or a week. Start with one a day, and do it! Can you imagine if you ask five people a week for 50 weeks what that would do for your business? That’s 250 a year. Even if you only get two or referral sales a month that buy, multiply that by your average sale. And remember a referral that buys is more likely to give you a referral. I would start by focusing on your best customers first – the ones you’ve worked with the most, provided the most value for, and have earned their trust.
4. When you ask for a referral, make sure you are very specific
with your customers about what kind of referral you are looking for.
For example, do you work with businesses or with individuals?
If you have created the list of qualities of your perfect client, you can share some of the qualities with your customer. I’d rather have someone tell me they don’t know anyone then have them give me a list of 10 people that I have no have no need of what I’m offering.
5. Is there a place where someone can leave a testimonial or review for you,
like on your company website? If they do this first, and you call to thank them, they may be more willing to give you an actual referral.
And 6. Ask at the right time.
A time that’s convenient for your customer – not as they are rushing off to their next meeting. This includes talking to them when they are at their happiest. If you don’t feel the time is right, or you forget, like I used to, you can follow up with them in an email or text. Or give them a couple of your business cards.
One of my favorite ways to ask is to say, “I have found that many of my clients, when they leave, will talk about the results they’ve gotten by working with me. Then they call me asking for a few business cards. So I’ll put a couple of extra cards in your folder, just in case you need them”. If that feels comfortable for you feel free to use it.
Remember to always thank your customer for the referral, or send them a thank-you note. If the referral turns into a client, think about getting the referring customer a small gift or taking them to lunch. People appreciate and remember being appreciated.
Part 2 of how to increase your referral sales is — how to reach out to a new referral.
My preferred way to reach out to a new referral sales prospect is with a phone call. I always ask the client that referred me to please let the referral know that I will be calling them – that is the warmest type of referral you can get. But, even with the warmest referral, never assume the referral is happy to hear from you.
I have a specific referral sales script that I use,
and it’s different from my cold calling script, or the script I would use to call existing customers, and it goes something like this.
“Hi Steve. My name is Nancy Carter with (your company). I was working with (your friend\co-worker) Jen Green mentioned to me you might be looking for information on (whatever you do), and she gave me your phone number. Did she reach out to let you know I’d be calling?”
“She said she knew you for quite some time and that you are a great (golfer, football fan, traveler)”.
It’s always good to open with a complement of some kind. After all, who doesn’t like to hear something good about themselves? And it’s an icebreaker\conversation starter for you to find a common ground for something to talk about.
By mentioning that referrer’s name, you are showing the referral know this is not just a cold call.
You can even mention that Jen said a good time to try and reach them was ____________. Then go right into, “Do you have a few minutes to talk now, or should be set up a time later in the week, like Thursday morning?”
Pre covid, I would not have asked that question. I would have just set the appointment. But, recently I have found I can move someone onto a Zoom call immediately – so be prepared to move forward right then if you can.
Now if Jen has not called Steve to pre-introduce you, you want to have your conversational elevator speech ready to briefly explain to Steve who you are, what you do, and how you helped Jen.
If you are not able to reach Steve when you call, I would leave a brief message, again saying that Jen Green suggested you call around 10 AM. Be quick, clear, concise and hang up – don’t forget to leave your call back number.
Some people like to reach out to new referral sales with an email first,
but I find that emails can be lost or overlooked unless they recognize the source. So call first, then email, then call again — over the period of a week or so.
Remember, if you annoy Steve, he will tell Jen and the referral source will dry up quickly. If you send an email, briefly introduce yourself, mention your referral source, and ask for an appointment, either real or virtual. In seven or eight sentences.
You can see that it’s important to get both the phone number and the e-mail address of the referral. Don’t rely on one or the other.
My last tip is to call or contact every referral you are given.
By having a short script in place, you will feel more confident making that first call. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel, the better the results you will get, and the more confident you will become!
Referral sales are a big part (30% or more) of my business. Especially in 2020 when hosting networking meetings physically is difficult.
You get what you focus on. So set the goal of how many referrals you plan on getting each week, ask for the referral, and keep track of how you are doing.
You will soon see your business grow with a shorter sales cycle. And when you keep track, it’s easier to see where your new success is coming from.
- Your Sales Negotiation Style (with free self-assessment quiz)
- A Story of Sales Mindset and Perspective
- How to Use Non-Verbal Communication Skills to Increase Your Sales
- The Introvert’s Edge to Networking by Matthew Pollard book review
- Your Sales Communication Style (with free self-assessment quiz)
I‘d love to hear your thoughts on this post! Please post your message in the comments below.