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5 Ways to Build Your Referral Network

Every time I post something about cold-calling, the sales trainer Joanne Black complains that I'm giving referrals short shrift. The truth is that selling IS much easier if somebody else has already greased the wheels.

So while I do believe that "Cold Calling Builds Character", only a fool ignores an easy sell. So then... Based on a conversation with sales guru Jeff Gitomer, here are five ways to build your referral network:

  • METHOD #1. Become friends with your customers by meeting the socially, at business networking events, and other non-sales-related events.
  • METHOD #2. Provide incredible service so that the customer feels that there is little risk in recommending your firm to the customer's peers.
  • METHOD #3. Be proactive about their needs by anticipating what they're likely to want and arranging ahead of time to have it handled.
  • METHOD #4. Be a provider of extra value, by find something that you can do for the customer that's outside of the expected products and services.
  • METHOD #5. Give referrals to your customers, so that they can more quickly build their own business, which will create a sense of gratitude.
Jeff had some additional advice that's worth repeating here:
  • Referrals take place only when your customer trusts you to deliver top-notch products and services. When you've just closed, you still have to prove to the customer that you can deliver.
  • Rather that asking for referrals at closing, use the post-closing conversation to describe actions that you will take that will earn the customer's trust.
  • Once you've earned that trust, ask what it would it take for the customer to refer his friend and colleagues. If the customer is receptive, then them to call or email those people.
  • The best referrals are when a prospect calls you (not the other way around) as the result of a recommendation from an existing customer.
READERS: What experiences have you had with referral selling? Can it replace cold-calling, or is it just another tool in your lead generation bag of tricks?
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