The most coveted prize in selling besides a sale is a referral. How do you approach this person? Everyone tells you to get referrals, no one tells you what to do next.
How do you maximize the selling power of this referral?
Here are 8.5 rules to ensure your success:
- Approach with care, be prepared, don't move too quickly. Timing is everything. Don't appear to be too anxious to get the sale (money). Proper set up will breed a long term relationship (more money) instead of just a sale.
- Arrange a three way meeting. Setting the stage for the first meeting/communication can be make it or break it. All three people together sets a perfect stage. Here are the preferred methods for a first meeting with a referral and customer in order of preference (and effectiveness).
- Arrange to meet at a social event (theater, ball game).
- Arrange a meal together (breakfast and lunch are more business, dinner is more open–ended and casual).
- Arrange to meet at a networking event.
- Get a personal (in person) introduction.
If those methods are not possible or practical, try these...
- Get a phone call to the referral from your customer telling of your impending call.
- Get a letter of introduction.
These methods provide the best chance for your customer to sing your praises in front of the referral. One third-party endorsement is more powerful than one hundred presentations.
- Get personal information about the referral before you make the first contact. Business information, personal information, recent successes, likes, last vacation, children's schools, home town, and the like. Having personal information is an advantage. Not having personal information is a fatal mistake.
- You don't have to sell at the first meeting if your customer is with you. In fact, the less selling you do, the more credible you will appear. You only have to establish rapport, gain confidence, and (rule five) arrange a second, private meeting where you can get down to business.
- Try to get the prospect to prepare information for your meeting. If you can get the prospect to gather and/or compile information, you have an interested prospect who will be willing to talk and listen.
- Don't send too much information in an email. Email, like the phone, is not where a sale is made. It's just a sales tool. Send just enough to inform and create interest.
- Write a personal note to the referral within 24–hours. Brief but positive. Don't slobber all over the note with thanks, and thanks again. Just tell him or her it was nice to get acquainted and you're looking forward to the next meeting.
- Write your customer a note of thanks. Include a gift if the sale will be of some significance (a quality ad specialty – something with your logo printed on it, or two tickets to a ball game). If you give a gift, make it memorable. Send something that will be talked about. Your thanks and gift will encourage the customer to get you another referral.
8.5 Deliver! Failure to follow up and deliver as promised makes you and your customer look bad to the prospect. Failure to deliver also eliminates any chance of another referral. This rule is the most important of them all. It is a breeding ground for your reputation. What kind of reputation have you got?
The least preferred referred method. One final "real world" note. The way it seems to happen most often, is a stone cold call (or email) to a name, address and number given to you by a customer or friend. Be creative. Make it a meaningful and personal connection. Get some information about the referral and his company before the first contact is made. Don't fall into the trap of calling or writing and saying "I was given your name by..." That sounds horrible.
Say instead, "Hi (hey), my name is Jeffrey, my company is BuyGitomer and you don't know me from a sack of potatoes. I've been doing business with (name of customer) for some time now, and she thought I might be able to help you in the same way I've helped her. I'm told you're quite a ......... or I heard your business just.........I just wanted to touch base, introduce myself and get your address to send you some information I think you'll find to be of interest."
Say something else to establish personal rapport from the information you were given by your customer. Try to get the referral to laugh. Then say, "I'll call you back in a few days, and maybe we can talk over lunch. Thanks for your time."
Don't be too long winded. You're not going to make the sale on the phone. Say just enough to create interest and arrange an in–person meeting.
How important is personal information about the referred party before you make the first call? Life or death. If you have to use the "least preferred method," and you don't have personal information... you're dead. Just get it.
How valuable are referrals? One third party endorsement is worth a hundred presentations, if you know what you're doing.
When you get a referral, treat it like gold.
Want a blueprint for building referral alliances? It's a plan for building your sales. Just go to www.gitomer.com, click Access GitBit in the top right corner, register if you're a first time user and enter the secret word, "REFERRAL".