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Who Wants More Sales Referrals? Peggy Carlaw

Check out Wendy Maynard's list of 7 Tips to Increase Refer­rals in the June 23 issue of VSR. She's got some use­ful ideas about using pro­mo­tions to gen­er­ate refer­rals. Pro­mo­tions are great, but my favorite is Tip #7: Ask for referrals.

Wendy sug­gests that you ask your cur­rent and for­mer cus­tomers to pass your name and con­tact infor­ma­tion on to their cir­cle. Ask­ing for refer­rals is a great way to get more busi­ness, but I sug­gest that you don't ask your cus­tomers to pass your name on. That means they have to work! And even with good inten­tions, the chance of them get­ting your name to their con­tact is slim. And it's even slim­mer to get the con­tact to call you. Instead, if you want to receive more refer­rals, take con­trol of the refer­ral process yourself.

When to ask? The best time to ask for a refer­ral is when the cus­tomer indi­cates they're thrilled with your prod­uct or service.

How to ask? Paint a pic­ture of your ideal cus­tomer and when they typ­i­cally look for your prod­uct or ser­vice. Then ask your cus­tomer if they know any­one like that. Here's an example:

"Great, John. I'm glad that cross-selling pro­gram worked out so well for you. You know, here at Impact, we work with com­pa­nies of all sizes who want to improve their sales reps' abil­ity to prospect, sell, and man­age accounts by phone. This could be either for inside tele­sales folks sell­ing by phone or field sales reps who need a way to cover their ter­ri­tory more effi­ciently. Our clients seek us out when there is either a push to increase sales or to cut costs. Do you know any­one in sales man­age­ment or in train­ing who might be in this sit­u­a­tion? If so, I'd appre­ci­ate a refer­ral." OK…pardon the ruth­less self-promotion by way of exam­ple here, but if you know of any­one, please let us know. We love referrals!

Once you ask, you have to sit there and be quiet. Don't say a word. The cus­tomer needs time to think.  If he or she comes up with a refer­ral, great! Find out what you can about the account, ask for the con­tact infor­ma­tion, and make the ini­tial con­tact your­self. That way you know the job will get done.

Ask­ing for refer­rals is just like any other sales skill: it takes prac­tice. But it will pay off. Who can you ask today? It's time to start practicing!

Peggy Car­law is the founder of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a lead­ing train­ing com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in improv­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between front-line employ­ees and cus­tomers. Peggy is co-author of sev­eral books pub­lished by McGraw-Hill, includ­ing Man­ag­ing and Moti­vat­ing Con­tact Cen­ter Employ­ees and The Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games.
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Peggy Carlaw
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