Are a Waste Introductions are Gold
Paul McCord on Referral Selling
Referrals get your calls answered and open otherwise closed doors,
right? Not really. Find out what you really need to make referrals
Rick's client was somewhat uncomfortable with his request. The sale
had gone well enough--everything considered. But this last question
about referrals was a little uncomfortable. His client was completely
caught off guard. He wasn't the least prepared to give a referral
and wasn't comfortable giving one. But Rick asked and stood his ground
until his client coughed up the name and phone number of one of his
vendors that might be able to use Rick's services.
Rick was excited; as the referral he received was to a company he
had wanted to get into for quite a while. Better yet, it was a referral
to Nadia, the company's COO, the exact person he had been wanting
to reach. He quickly thanked his client and headed to his office to
call his new prospect.
As soon as he was in his office, he picked up the phone, called Nadia,
and got her assistant who, despite Rick's insistence that one of the
Nadia's clients had asked him to call her, refused to put him through.
Instead, the assistant insisted that Rick leave his name and number,
and she would pass the information along to Nadia who would call if
she were interested.
Rick tried several more times to reach Nadia. He called and left messages.
He took the liberty of emailing her. He sent two letters. Finally,
after months of trying, he gave up.
Unfortunately, this scenario is played out thousands of times a day.
Salespeople get "referrals," thank their client, rush off
to call the prospect, and never have the opportunity to make contact.
Why is this such a prevalent result of "referrals?"
Because Rick didn't get a referral. He simply got a name and phone
number. For Rick, and most other salespeople, a name and phone number
and the permission from the client to use the client's name as the
referring party are considered a referral. In reality, it is nothing
but a name and phone number.
By simply getting the name and phone number and running off to make
the phone call, Rick committed the most common error salespeople make
when they get a referral. He failed to capitalize on the power of
the referral and instead turned it into a warm call.
The power of a referral is its potential to open doors, generate interest,
and get an appointment. Seldom can a referral sell for you. That's
not the goal of a referral. The goal is to open a door and, hopefully,
begin the relationship from a position of strength and trust.
When you receive a referral, you are hoping to build a relationship
with the referred prospect based on his trust and respect of your
client. If the prospect trusts and respects your client, a portion
of the trust and respect he has for your client is imbued to you because
someone he trusts referred you.
However, that trust is useless if you fail to set an appointment with
the prospect. In many cases, the fact someone he trusts gave you the
prospect's name and phone number is not enough by itself to convince
him to meet with you. You need something stronger than just your client's
name to open the door.
That extra push is a direct introduction from your client to the prospect.
A direct introduction is powerful for several reasons:
- It is unusual. It isn't often that someone is personally
asked by someone he trusts to meet a salesperson. The act itself
places you in a different category than other salespeople.
- It demonstrates trust. A direct introduction demonstrates
a high level of trust. Most people will not go to the trouble
of taking the time and effort to give a direct introduction unless
they have a high degree of trust and respect for the person they
- It makes it difficult for the prospect to decline a meeting.
There is implied pressure on the prospect to meet with you since
he doesn't want to offend the client.
A call using the client's name doesn't have the power of an introduction
and gives the prospect an easy outhe simply doesn't accept
your call or declines a meeting. After all, the client wasn't really
involvedyou simply used the client's name.
On the other hand, a properly executed introduction virtually guarantees
In most instances, you have three introduction methods at your disposal:
A letter of introduction written by you for your client's signature
A letter from the client to the prospect is the most basic form of
introduction. Rather than asking the client to write the letter, write
it for him on his letterhead for his signature. Let the prospect know
what you accomplished for the client; let him know why the client
referred you; give a specific time and date to expect your call; and
have the client ask the prospect to let him know his impression of
you and your company after you have met.
Mail the letter and then a day or two after the prospect should have
received it, give him a call. Don't introduce yourself first. Rather,
introduce the letter and client first, then move to asking for the
A phone call from your client to the prospect
A phone call is stronger than a letter and almost guarantees an appointment
as it is very difficult for the prospect to say no to your appointment
request while the client is on the line. The call gives the opportunity
for the prospect to ask specific questions of your client and to get
detailed information. Do not have your client call unless you are
presentyou want to know exactly what was said.
A lunch meeting with your client, the prospect, and yourself
A stronger method than either a letter or a call, a lunch meeting
allows you to get to know the prospect as a friend before you get
to know him as a salesperson. Like a phone call, it virtually guarantees
a private meeting. Also, in a lunch meeting, your client becomes your
salesperson and you're there as the consultant. Although a very powerful
introduction format, most clients will only agree to do one, maybe
two at the most, so use judiciously.
If you want to turn your "referrals" into real referrals,
don't settle for just getting names and phone numbers. Learn how to
turn those names and phone numbers into real referrals through a direct
introduction to the prospect. Not only will the number of appointments
you set go upyour sales will increase, your income will
increase, and you'll find selling to be a lot easier.
Paul McCord is a leading authority on prospecting, referral selling,
and personal marketing. He is president of McCord and Associates,
a Houston, Texas based sales training, coaching, and consulting company.
His first book, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales
Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons, 2007), is an
Amazon and Barnes and Noble best-seller and is quickly becoming recognized
as the authoritative work on referral selling. His second book, SuperStar
Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar will be released in
February, 2008. He may be reached at PMcCord@MCcordAndAssociates.com
or visit www.PowerReferralSelling.com.
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