According to Marketo, 10.99% of sales referrals convert. The same research found that only 0.9% of regular sales prospects turn into customers. That’s a huge difference. One reason for this variance is likely due to the fact that only 3% of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy. Additionally, most buyers now research and select vendors with the help of suggestions from those they trust within their own personal network.
Potential buyers trust their peers far more than any salesperson, and therefore a personal recommendation carries far more weight than a cold call. Reps must constantly ask their buyers for referrals. If they don’t, you’re leaving money on the table.
When customers are pleased with your product or service they will likely happy to provide a referral, but usually need to be prompted to do so. The challenge is to make it seem natural, not pushy or awkward. Make it easier for your team members to feel comfortable doing this by reviewing and practicing the ask with them. This will increase their confidence and increase the frequency with which they request leads from customers. Here’s the information you need to share with your sales reps about how to ask for referrals in sales.
Mention it early and often
When a salesperson starts works through the sales process with a prospect, introduce the idea of referrals early on. Tell them you’ll be asking for a referral when the time is right. Simply mentioning it gets your reps comfortable talking about it, prevents surprises and gets the prospect thinking about who they know that might benefit. Gently reminding prospects of this periodically along the buyer’s journey helps keep this idea in the conversation and makes it a natural question once the prospect becomes a happy customer.
Consistently provide value
By routinely providing value to prospects, sales reps develop deeper relationships while building trust. Doing so shows leads that your reps are focused on solving problems and providing the information prospects need instead of making them feel like a number by rushing them through the sales cycle. This increases the odds of a prospect or customer sharing the name of a potential lead from their network when a reps requests one.
When to ask
Obviously, requesting a referral isn’t something sales reps should do at the end of a cold call with a new lead. It’s best to do this when a prospect or customer has expressed how pleased they are with the rep or your product or service. This is often after a lead has become a new customer and had a chance to experience your solution enough to be thrilled with it. But, there may be times, when a rep provides value along the way and the prospect needs to delay a purchase decision, for example. In this situation, if the prospect has expressed great appreciation for the salesperson’s level of service, it may be appropriate to ask for a referral. This might be especially true if the potential customer has every intention of buying from your company when they are ready.
What to say
A great way for reps to ask for a referral is to say something like, “I’d really appreciate your help…” When asking, your team members should be prepared with a specific request. Instead of simply saying, “Do you know anyone else who could use my product or services?” Instead they should provide a brief description of the type of referral desired by sharing key criteria relating to your ideal target customer. This makes it easier for happy customers to respond with prospects most likely to be qualified.
Another approach is for reps to identify ideal prospects who are connected to their happy customers in LinkedIn. They can then request an introduction to these potential leads. This can often be an even easier request and takes a lot of pressure off the customer to think of who to offer as a referral.
When customers provide referrals, it’s extremely important that your sales reps express their appreciation by remembering to say “Thank you” and to keep their customer’s posted on the outcome of the referral.
Referrals are warm leads received from happy customers or prospects. Don’t let your team forget to tap into this excellent source of leads. Review this information with your team today so they can start asking for referrals today.