As a fan of The Green Sheet, I'd like to share my thoughts on referrals since they are integral to sales success. Many people have difficulty asking for help, and many entrepreneurs I interview have no idea what a referral is. For example, 80 percent of entrepreneurs surveyed believe getting to use someone's name in a phone call, basically a cold call where you are name dropping, is a referral. When I ask for a referral I request the referrer call ahead, gain permission and then do an email intro. I get to at least have the conversation 95 percent of the time.
A referral transfers trust from one relationship to another. Trust is the most critical factor in the sales process. Once you have established trust you must gain understanding and continue with your sales process. The bonus is that you have cut the selling time anywhere from 20 to 60 percent, according to Joanne Black, who is the leading authority on referral selling.
Every new professional you are referred to expands your network. Learning how to harness and develop these relationships and not "sell" to them is critical to growing your entire network. Your network is your personal goldmine. Why start over with new prospects and cold calling?
Economic and technological changes are creating an environment where customers are more educated than ever by the time you get to them. Most entrepreneurs have more leads than they need. It's distracting. The chances are you could mine all the business you need from your top five contacts. Take a quick look at your top five contacts on LinkedIn right now. Check out their connections. Look at all the interesting people one degree away from you.
Let your friends and colleagues know you are growing your business strategically. You are selecting the right kind of people to work with and you need their help.
Karin Bellantoni, Katalyst Agency
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