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How to Have Your Cake and Eat It: Why Referrals Are The Ultimate Short and Long-term Sales Strategy


How to Have Your Cake and Eat It: Why Referrals Are The Ultimate Short and Long-term Sales Strategy

Everyone in just about every sales organization could use more sales pipeline right about now.

The challenge seems to be pervasive and enduring, but the quest for a solution continues to this very day.

The question is how do you fill that pipeline in a way that allows for success now and certainty of success in the future. If you follow any of my writings and videos you can guess what my answers can be, so without further ado, it’s referrals.

We are not going to get into why referrals beat every other prospecting strategy because that’s already been proven and is universally accepted among almost all salespeople and sales organizations. That being the case, why do most salespeople pigeonhole referrals into the following status: I love referrals and they beat every other form of prospecting but you can’t build a pipeline, or, fill the 30-day bucket with them you have to get out and… Insert any other prospecting technique here.

This belief that referrals cannot deliver short-term results is untrue. For that to be the case, the salesperson and their sales organization would have to have zero relationships, pricing that is completely out of reality, and no method of communicating whatsoever.

Here’s the truth: no prospecting technique and/or strategy is going to solve your immediate sales problems. 

This myopic focus on the near that prevents you from having a certain and enjoyable future and sales. I call it the ‘Next 30’ syndrome.  Every time I sit down with a client of mine and look back at what they could have done we have universal agreement that if they had been doing proactive referral sales they would not have the pipeline issues they have at the moment. This is the same with anything when you succumb to the tyranny of the urgent your future is the victim.

“All right Mike I get it I know I have to be proactive strategic, but, what exactly do I need to do?”

What I meant to tell you works if you need to create some immediate sales results and is exactly what you need to do to have that momentum continue. A healthy sales person and the organizations they work for, that wish to be referral based, need to have two systems in place to ensure success:

RGP – a referral getting process 


RGP – a referral giving process 

Situation one: I love referrals, but, I need sales right now.

First of all, you need to own the fact that because of the lack of strategy and discipline you and you alone are to cause for the lack of sales. Once you’ve internalized that absolute truth, you are ready to rock ‘n’ roll on creating an immediate impact on your sales pipeline.

You need to focus on your RGP as it pertains to your referral getting process. Once we get you stabilized and you have some confidence and security, we will deal with the other essential element which is how you give.

The ONE thing: ask for help. You need to first identify who it is that can help you, and then you need to humble yourself and focus in on making sure you ask enough people to help so that you hit your sales goals. You’re doing something very difficult, you are asking for other people to introduce you to folks hoping that those prospects are in the market right now. The good news? This is exactly the same thing that you’d be doing if you cold called, sent a bunch of emails, or went crazy on social media. The only thing that will save you now is an insane amount of activity focus and confidence.

Note: if you’re priced out of the market, can’t convey to friends let alone prospects why it’s worth buying your product… You’re in a world of hurt anyways might as well try real hard. 

Once you get enough activity going, you have to immediately add in extra time, energy and focus on the next RGP.  Referrals can bring tremendous results very quickly just because of the extra activity, but, to keep the momentum going you have to build a giving system instead of just being a referral predator (that’s right if you are just planning on getting…you are just planning on taking).  If you like the cake you need to make sure the bakery stays open.

Situation two: sales were okay, but, I’m nervous and want to make sure that not only does it get better now, but, I want to be confident that sales will continue to be effective in meeting our sales organizations goals.

The ONE thing:  ask how you can help. If your sales are stable, now’s the time to make sure they stay that way. If you’re getting a significant amount of your business from referrals you need to make sure that the referrals are to be able to continue. The only way to do that: have a referral giving plan.

The referral giving plan is going to include both your customers and your referral sources/strategic alliances. Customers are not all going to need and/or appreciate referrals. However, you need to evaluate every customer that is of significant value to you and your company as to how you can assist them in growing their company. The easiest way to get renewals and continued sales growth from your client is to make sure they have enough revenue to continue in business. Please don’t make excuses about how it might be difficult or hard…your clients deserve better from you. If you are really stumped, contact me.

This isn’t brain surgery, it’s just common sense practically applied for your own good. 

When it comes to strategic alliances, referral giving plans become even more essential because of the sheer value that having another salesperson and/or sales organization that has a client base that you can potentially tap into. You can’t passively hope for referrals in these cases, you have to proactively and strategically create them. How you do that?

The first thing is to evaluate how you currently communicate with your clients. Look for opportunities that already exist in the natural conversation flow with your clients that would allow you to add in little snippets of communication that can create opportunities for your referral partners. Beyond that, evaluate which of your clients are engaged with you beyond just a product value relationship, and have deeper conversations about the challenges that they face in growing and sustaining their business. Those conversations are the foundation. You can’t be a retail store that never has anyone on the floor.

Related: Life is Too Short to Wait For Referrals

You have to talk to your customers if you want to have a sustainable Referral Giving Plan. 

Everyone’s talking about added value and it’s not just information when it comes to building customer relationships. In fact, I believe one of the true differentiators between salespeople and companies is a true Referral Giving Plan. When your client believes that you have a fair price and that you are continually adding value from your network to their bottom line beyond what you seldom… You have a next level relationship with your client and that is eternal sales.

There’s a whole bunch more to the two processes and to my predictable referral system, but, I just gave you the two processes that are the core. I bet many of you reading this have heard about referral getting techniques and at the same time have heard very little about how to predictably and continually give referrals. There’s a whole bunch of lip service out on the Internet and in many of my competitor’s so-called training programs. Know this, if you’re paying for a coach, consultant, training company to help you with your referral base sales and at least half of the time energy and systems are dedicated to ensuring that you and your organization can produce referrals… You got ripped off.

At the end of the day, referral base sales that are predictable and continual rest upon a foundation of giving. This is where my work with organizations on having a real referral culture pays the greatest dividends, both now and in the future.

If this was of value I ask that you share it with any and all business professionals that you feel could benefit from it. I am always open to a conversation about referrals, culture, and the quest for innovation within the independent financial advisor space, or, other players in the SMB space.

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