There are many ways to generate new sales leads , but one of the most under utilised methods I regularly see, is asking for referrals from current customers. Surely that has to be easier than gaining new customers, right?
Think about it. Are you more likely to buy a product from a person who turns up on your doorstep or from someone who came recommended by someone you know and trust?
Sales referrals from customers work because it’s also a referral of trust. It bridges a gap that can usually take time to build with a brand-new customer. It can therefore also mean the customer moves through your sales funnel at a much faster pace.
So, what makes sales teams hesitant about pushing for sales referrals from their customers? It can actually be a number of things, but common reasons include fear of damaging the current relationship they have with their customer, wanting referrals to happen more naturally or not thinking to ask as it isn’t part of the sales process.
Referrals can often mean more quality leads. In some cases businesses have seen success rates increase by 7.5%, that’s more than 7 in 100 sales resulting from a customer referral, I’m sure that if you calculate that for your business, it’s worth having. With that kind of potential business, it may be time to ask the question, how can you get more sales referrals from your current customers?
A good first step is working with your sales teams around what type of customer to ask for sales referrals and when. A strong relationship often means a strong referral and a higher chance of a sale. Get your team to think about the quality of relationship they have with their customer as well as the quality and frequency of communication they enjoy. Another good indicator is the level of satisfaction the customer has with your product or service.
As for timing, it’s a matter of striking while the iron is hot. You’re more likely to get quality referrals if you ask immediately after a customer has made their purchase. Customers are more likely to refer you in that moment than months later. Like many things in life, if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
Don’t be afraid
Get your sales teams comfortable with asking for referrals. They’ve put in the work and reached the end portion of the sales process. It’s worked so pushing for more can sometimes feel counterintuitive. The process can feel awkward, but if customers pick up on uncertainty, they may be less likely to refer.
Training and practice can help with this. Make sure asking customers for referrals is part of your sales process. This is where having a centralised sales tool can be vital making sure your sales team are using the same steps that result in success.
Encourage your sales teams to do their research. Look at who the customer is linked with using tools like social media. If there isn’t a specific person to link with, then make the request itself specifically. Know what you want and ask for it. Asking generically for referrals makes more work for the customer and may mean any referrals you do receive may not be quality leads, so to reiterate do your best to name who you want to be referred to within your customers network. Before you end the conversation, ask for permission to use their name in the referral. Being able to name a person that is known to a potential customer builds trust that much faster.
End the interaction properly. Don’t be in a rush to move onto your sales referrals and never forget to say thankyou. Going forward keep the customer in the loop. If their referral produces a sale, send them another thankyou. Keeping the door open and the contact friendly may result in more business and potential referrals down the line.
Getting on board with asking customers for sales referrals can often be an untapped market for new business. It can also strengthen relationships with existing customers. Make sure you’re paying attention to your sales teams and what works so you can strengthen your sales process and lessen the chance of any missed opportunities.
If you want to read more about how you can identify customer groups with the most upsell potential or about how to be a more highly effective sales manager then visit our blog. If you want more information on how to streamline your sales processes take a look at our sales accelerator tool.