As we work with sales professionals, we regularly preach about the importance of getting referrals. Many feel uncomfortable asking for referrals from new customers. As with so many things, the easiest way to get referrals is to ask for them. It becomes surprisingly easy the more you practice.
Let’s look at the last time you completed selling a solution to a new customer. You are wrapping up the conversation. Everyone is feeling really good about the process. They are pleased with you and your company, and you feel confident that they will be happy with the results.
Now that you’ve established a strong new relationship, this is the perfect time to ask. But do NOT make the common mistake of asking “Is there anyone else in your network I should be talking to about my product/service?” More than likely, that will produce the typical response of “Gee, no, I don’t” or “Hmm, let me think about it and get back to you.”
It is so much easier for someone to make a referral if they know the type of businesses or people you want to add to your portfolio of customers. There may even be someone in their organization you should meet. You’ve done this homework already and know the type of customers that have been most successful for you. You have targeted customers by job title, annual company sales, location, approximate size, and other factors. Now, just use these characteristics when you ask for a referral. Try something like this:
“Martha, my best customers are those I have found from a referral. I’d like to describe my preferred customer. Would you be so kind as to just jot down a couple names that come to mind as you hear those qualities? “
After you’ve finished describing your preferred customer and a list has been created, ask for some details. Don’t overdo it. Get basic contact information and permission to use your new customer’s name when contacting the referral.