5 Steps to Get More Sales Referrals than Your Peers

a graphic depicts a circle of people connected in a referral network

As solution selling salespeople, we know that referrals from clients, friends, partners and peers are one of the best ways to grow a business. So why aren’t salespeople better at obtaining them?

One of the most valuable pieces in our solution selling training program has to do with getting referrals. Every sales training expert will tell you that referrals can significantly boost your revenue but few tell you how to ask effectively. Here is the process we recommend:
  1. Do differentiated work.
    Sales referrals are earned.  And the first step in earning a referral is doing great work and having great solutions.  The second step is using your solution selling training skills to build trusting relationships based upon your competence and character as a sales professional.

  2. Ask the right people.
    Just as you would be reluctant to ask a brand new acquaintance for a favor, so should you be uneasy about asking a target client for a referral until you have proven yourself enough. How have you helped your client succeed? Have you had a chance to show that you have both the character and competence to earn their trust?  It does not have to have been a huge contract or a long length of time. You may simply have provided value with special insight or expertise that helped them look at their problem in a new way. The more delighted the customer, the warmer the referral.

  3. Make your request specific.
    Some people resist giving a referral because sales people ask in a way that creates too much additional work and time. Make it easy for people to provide you with referrals by telling them exactly who you would like to speak with. 

    Be specific about your sweet spot client in terms of title, responsibility, and industry – even company name and specific person if possible. You might say something like, “I’m so glad our solution made a really positive impact on your sales growth. 80% of our business comes through referrals from clients just like you.  What high tech sales leaders do you know who would like to improve sales performance?”

  4. Ask for an email or phone call introduction.
    Though your referral source may not always provide this, it certainly helps to break down the door. If you need to introduce yourself using their name, craft a succinct email or voicemail message that asks only for a brief call to explore possible opportunities to work together.

  5. Circle back.
    Keep your referral source informed as to your progress. And, if the referral ends up with a sale, a handwritten thank you note or small gift would be in order.
Too many salespeople resist asking for referrals or ask ineffectively. But they shouldn’t. Most clients are happy to help salespeople who provide consistent and measurable value.  It is far easier than most salespeople think as long as you do it right. Go in with the attitude that you have something of real value to share. Then it’s not so much asking for a favor than spreading the word of a good deal.

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