Referrals are the lifeblood of many companies. After all, 82% of sales leaders and 78% of marketers surveyed agree that referrals are the best leads your business can get.
With so many sales professionals recognizing the gold mine which is referrals, it’s no surprise there are many tips and tricks out there for how to go about getting more referrals. However, some of those tips and tricks may not be as effective as you think.
Chances are, you are missing out on 71% of people who are willing to give a referral. Here’s are three common teachings that don’t deliver results.
The “Simple” Ask for Getting More Referrals
One common referral method that you hear over and over from sales trainers is that you just have to ask for them. This is a step in the right direction since we know that 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service. However, only 29% actually do connect a sales person with that lead.
Simply asking doesn’t equip the referral source to act. The disconnect in the figures above represent missed opportunities. These missed opportunities happen because clients don’t feel comfortable trying to pitch your business, they don’t have your contact information handy, or you just plain haven’t made it easy for them to refer you to others.
Or even worse, trainers teach you to pull a list from a social networking site like Facebook and LinkedIn, then simply ask for an introduction. Now, we admit everyone has done some social stalking occasionally. Unfortunately, this strategy can create a very awkward situation for both you and your client.
Instead, try to reframe the strategy by positioning the ask as a way to thank or pay a compliment to people in their network. For example, if you own a custom tailored suits company, you shouldn’t ask them to connect you to a bunch of their friends. Instead, ask your client to think of 5 of their best-dressed friends who they think would appreciate your services and then ask for the introduction.
The Follow-Up Before Due-Diligence
Sales trainers also teach you the art of the follow-up. Now don’t get us wrong, we love a good follow-up. But being blind to a lead’s interests, wants, or needs can leave you in a tough spot.
While following up with prospects or referrals over and over again can occasionally be effective, you aren’t necessarily setting yourself up for success. After all, calling up someone to pitch your business’s products or services cold is less effective than calling someone up knowing what their interests are.
If you’ve already had a conversation with this prospect, did you write down notes that you can reference later? Are you using web activity tracking and following up because you saw that they were just looking at a certain insurance policy or property listing? Imagine how valuable those pieces of information could be to you and help you in closing any sale.
If you are now thinking, well, I have an incentive program in place to make sure I never have to make the awkward ask or make a misinformed pitch. Well, do we have news for you.
The “Best” Incentives
A lot of sales professionals are also taught that if you have an incentive program in place, it will do the heavy lifting for you. However, there are a few issues to an incentive approach.
First, clients tend to be focused on referring for the incentive rather than referring someone who is a good fit for your services. This can lead to wasted time filtering through unqualified leads. Another consideration is whether your offering is devalued by the referral when they know an incentive was tied to the recommendation.
In fact, a study actually revealed that larger incentives are less effective than smaller ones! Not to mention, millennials – the largest living generation – are most likely to give referrals after receiving social recognition. How’s that for an incentive?
The key factor of trust – which is essential to any referral – can be broken when other motives are in play.