One reason why you don't get more referrals might surprise you. After 20 years working in the referral marketing field, the number one reason salespeople don't get more referrals is they are asking for referrals at the bottom of the sales funnel, or in other words, 'done deals.' In case you haven't used a funnel in real life...you pour into it from the top...
This limiting of referral opportunities to impact the volume of a sales funnel is a massive problem, because as any sales leader will tell you, prospecting is often one of the biggest challenge in managing sales production.
The question every sales leader I have had the privilege to talk with is: How do we get our salespeople in front of more prospects that will want/need to buy our service? The answer is simple: Get in front of more prospects, consistently, that WILL be buying your product or service and do so in a way that gets you to the front of their buying process.
Nothing is better at doing this than an endorsed referral. A referral, whether from a customer or referral source, defeats any spam or adblocker software and gets you past almost any gatekeeper. Once you make that contact, its all about following a sales process that mirrors the buying process of your prospect.
Don't get me wrong! I love when a prospect is referred to me at the end of their buying process and I am the only game in town and they buy without questions or concerns. I will tell you that doesn't happen frequently and, I firmly believe, is very hard to replicate on a predictable basis.
So, how do we fix the problem? We start asking for and 'networking' for referrals earlier in the buying process...or in other words we fill our funnel with referrals at the top of the funnel.
For example, twice this week alone (it's only Monday) I have had conversations with clients and referral partners where I had to pull them off their instinctual/emotion predilection for asking for and working towards referrals that are at the end of the funnel.
This is not productive for several reasons:
1 - This type of referral, especially from referral partners that are doing business with your prospect opens up the most risk for the referral partner. In many cases, your referral partner is 'shoe horning' you into the buying process and staking it all on their relationship. Often, there are already competitors entrenched in the decision making process and their is little time for you to do thorough qualifying of the client.
2 - You dramatically decrease the volume of referrals you receive because of the amount of work and random chance that has to occur prior to you meeting/engaging with the prospect. Stop trying to turn customers and referral partners into mini-version of you and having them shoulder the prospecting load for you. I get a ton of mileage from a simple three way email introduction that is easy and extremely low risk for my customer/referral source than the lengthy process of trying to help them pre-qualify and prepare a customer for me.
3 - You kill referral momentum. This is the 'mind killer' (Dune reference ftw) for consistent referral production. I love momentum in the referral process...seeing that new referral partner or recent customer turn on and start helping me is exhilarating and it happens more when I make it easy. How many times have you had a person say they are 'working on' an introduction to you that never happens or takes forever? I bet you can think of a few because I sure can. Instead, let them know you are a pro and that they don't have to close deals for you...that, in fact, you would love to just have them introduce you via a three way email/text/Facebook messenger etc.
There is a ton more to unpack about this topic, but, I wanted to keep it simple for this edition. Remember, referrals are awesome and it is possible to use them to fill up the top of your funnel!
Stay tuned for more in further blog posts. As always, if you have comments, questions or immediate and highly lucrative consulting or speaking needs feel free to reach out.