Teaching Your Sales Team to Get Referrals

It’s your sales team's job (and ultimately your job) to get customers. There are easy ways to get those customers, and there are harder ways to get them. And then there are some ways that seem hard, but are actually easy. One of those ways is referrals.

It's often difficult to get sales executives to consistently ask for referrals. After all, they already feel nervous about asking for business, and asking for a referral on top of that can often feel like too much for them. So part of your job is to help them see that getting referrals is something they need to do, and something they CAN do.

Asking for referrals can seem nerve-wracking or awkward (what doesn’t, in sales?), but it’s one of the more effective ways to get sales. In fact, studies put the closing rate of referrals at over twice the closing rate for cold contacts. And it doesn’t have to be hard or scary to do. Here are some tips for helping your sales executives get lots of those great referrals that will turn into sales.

It's Not Such a Big Deal

Keep in mind that you’re not asking for their firstborn child. A referral is a very reasonable request, and your sales executives don’t have to feel embarrassed or sheepish to ask.

As long as you don’t make it weird or awkward, it won’t be. And if your prospects like and trust you, they’ll be happy to refer their friends. So don’t save asking for referrals for an amazing encounter when the stars are aligned; just keep doing it all the time.

Set a Goal

How many referrals did your team ask for yesterday? One? Ten? Twenty-five? Do you know? If you don’t, it’s time to start tracking.

You don’t have to do anything fancy—hash-marks in a notebook or wherever they keep stuff like that on their phones is good enough. If you want to get really scientific, you can mark down how many of the people they asked actually gave a referral.

Once you know how many referrals your team is asking for now, make a goal to increase that number. Of course not everybody they ask for referrals will give them one—and that’s OK. Part of sales is controlling what you can control, without worrying about the rest. Your team's job is to ask.

Capitalize on the Excitement

Paint this scenario for your sales team: You’ve done your job, and the prospect has decided that she wants to buy. You’re excited, she’s excited, and the warm fuzzies are flying. Take advantage of that excitement and goodwill and ask if your prospect has any friends, neighbors, or fellow business owners who could also benefit from what you’re selling.

Chances are, if your new customer thinks your product is great, he or she will want to share. Similarly, if you call your customer to follow up, and he thanks you for getting him the awesome deal, go ahead and ask for a referral right then and there.

Another Way to "Save" a Sale

If a sales executive have gone through his or her entire sales pitch and gotten a “no” from the prospect, don’t let him or her despair. After all, he or she can still get something out of the time invested by asking for a referral.

It might seem counter-intuitive to ask people to refer their friends to try something they won’t even try themselves. But prospects say no for a variety of different reasons, and if your sales team is doing its job right, one of those reasons is hopefully not that the prospects hate their guts. Maybe it’s just bad timing. Maybe they don’t have the budget. Maybe it’s a bad fit for some other reason. But they might know someone who would consider it. And they’ve already said no, so what do you have to lose?

Tell your sales executives to ask every person who says no for a referral, and they might just get a sale out of that no!

Make it a Habit

Some sales professionals are afraid to ask for referrals too often. Remind them that as long as they ask naturally and don’t apply any sort of pressure, they can go ahead and ask for referrals every time they interact with their customers.

Give them a list of referral opportunities like this: Meeting someone for the first time? Ask for a referral. Just closed a prospect? Ask for a referral. Shut down by the gatekeeper? Ask for a referral. Got told your prospect is going on vacation for a month? Ask for a referral. And so on. You get the picture.  

Making asking for referrals into a habit will help your sales team to get more referrals, and thus more sales. And the more they do it, the easier it will get.

If you need help training your sales team in good habits like this, consider contacting Netpique sales outsourcing. We'd love to help you improve your sales function through outsourcing, training, sales analytics, or one of our other sales solutions. Contact us today for a free consultation.