Landing a referral is the holy grail of sales leads for most reps. Referrals are viewed as an easier win because they are motivated to buy, have at least basic knowledge of your product, and were pointed in your organization’s direction by someone they trust.
If they are such a slam dunk, why don’t more reps put effort into creating a referral pipeline?
The answer is simple – there are no shortcuts to landing a referral.
Referrals take time and are a byproduct of the relationship between the sales rep and the customer. Far too many reps focus solely on closing deals and moving on to the next prospect. The idea of slowing down to build a relationship is in the back of their minds. Pressure to perform and the rep’s own needs get in the way and referrals dwindle.
The good news – there’s an alternative.
The Key To Generating Referrals
The idea of a quick close and a handoff to the customer service team has become commonplace sales industry, even if it inadvertently creates hurdles for the sales rep. The SaaS model might be great for some, but it places greater emphasis on closing than building a relationship with each prospect and customer.
Referrals require a different approach and an Other-Centered® mindset.
The key to generating consistent referrals does not lie within the rep’s sales acumen, but rather their ability to forge relationships and become a trusted advisor.
Think back to the last time you referred a product or service to a friend. Chances are you didn’t point them in a specific direction because the sales rep was aggressive and only wanted to close. You likely referred them to someone that provided you with a great experience, and put your needs above their own desire to earn a commission.
Your trust in that specific person didn’t happen overnight. It was built through one engagement after another. Reps that adopt an Other-Centered mindset actively choose to set aside their own needs for the needs of each customer. It isn’t rocket science, but it does require dedication and consistency.
Build a Referral Network
Building a referral network won’t happen overnight, but each step along the way will impact other areas of your business, and strengthen the relationship between the rep and their customers. It is important to note that accessing referrals isn’t a linear path, and it will likely be a different process for each customer.
The following three points should serve more as pillars upon which the rep’s referral network is built, as opposed to a “Referrals For Dummies” guide.
Choose to serve
Reps are faced with a simple question with each customer interaction – who will they choose to serve? The answer is entirely up to each rep and will dictate the trajectory of the relationship.
Choosing to serve is an active process, there are no days off. Referrals come from a place of trust. Reps that continually choose to serve their own needs may occasionally close business, but they will find it hard to build trust with their customers.
Most missteps are a direct result of the pressure to perform. As sales leaders, it is our job to lead by example and emphasize the importance of the relationship, understanding that results will follow if each member of the team puts the customer’s needs before their own.
Simplify the buying process
Buyers don’t like complicated processes. Don’t believe us? Amazon has perfected the simple transaction. You don’t even have to add items to your cart. One button and a quick swipe and your package will be delivered to your doorstep in the next day or two. Amazon might not win any awards for relationships, but they certainly understand what their customers want.
If your reps are struggling to generate referrals, or close business in general, it may be because your process is too complicated. You may not have the option for a “Buy It Now” button, but removing hurdles should be priority number one.
One of the best ways to simplify the process is to remove tension from the equation. If every interaction with a customer feels like a high-stakes game of tug-o-war, something will eventually have to give. Both sides are pulling, tension builds, and the deal falls through. Luckily, the rep can choose to Drop the Rope® at any time, immediately resolving the issue.
The easier you can make it for your customers, the more likely they will refer your organization. No one wants to complicate things for their friends or colleagues.
How quickly do your reps hand off a new client to the customer service team? As more organizations adopt the SaaS model, the emphasis on building relationships takes a backseat to sales performance. As a result, referrals become an occasional cherry on top of the sundae, instead of a steady piece of your sales pipeline.
There’s no sugarcoating that building a relationship takes time and requires the sales rep to engage with each customer well after the ink has dried. Those interactions might not always be positive, but they help forge the relationship. Over time, the relationship evolves, and the sales rep becomes a trusted advisor, as opposed to the person that sends a one-off email when contract renewals are due.
Reps that successfully make that transition will find that customers are more engaged, more likely to buy new products, more likely to renew their contracts, and more likely to refer their business contacts to your organization.
Remember – trusted advisors get referrals, sales reps may not.
Other-Centered Training With ASLAN
As sales leaders, we can’t snap our fingers and make referrals appear out of thin air. We can, however, give our salespeople the tools they need to successfully build relationships and foster trust with every prospect and client. With an Other-Centered mindset and sales strategy, your team can transform from run-of-the-mill salespeople to trusted advisors that consistently deliver results.
ASLAN training isn’t for every organization. We look through a unique lens, but the results speak for themselves. If your team is struggling to get referrals through the door, it may be time for a different approach. Connect with our team to learn about the Other-Centered sales process and all of our amazing sales tools.
Together we can spark change.
ASLAN teaches sellers an easier, better way to gain access & influence unreceptive customers, by eliminating the hard sell.