How about that for a headline?!? I have been meaning to write this article for a few months and was kicked into action by the passing of one of my heroes Billy Graham yesterday. This is dedicated to his memory, the ministry Jesus placed upon his heart 80 years ago and the billions of folks impacted for eternity through Billy’s efforts in following Him.
Believe in Jesus or not, the man certainly knew how to spread a message (1000’s of years, billions of people and its still going) I don’t know of any other word of mouth campaign (there wasn’t social media or even newspapers back then…shocking I know!) that has lasted longer and reached more people. Whether you belive in what Jesus was sharing and teaching you can learn alot from HOW he did it.
Personal note: I was brought to faith by referral, as a member of a business referral group in Northern VA.
It was only after becoming a Christian, however, that I began to understand that the true foundation of referral based sales (or word of mouth marketing…you pick) is based upon His life and work. Luke 10, from the Bible, is the blue print for how to lay a foundation for enduring and transformational referral based sales no matter who or what you believe in.
In that passage, Jesus instructed his followers simply to do three things: (1) Find a person of peace, (2) See if they receive your peace (3) and then remain. There also was an admonition of what to do if they don’t (move on).
Is it really that simple? In a word, yes.
Let me break down how I coach and train on these foundational elements of referral based sales:
1. Finding people of peace.
Nothing is more important when doing referral based sales than being able to find and then develop relationships with people that have the one key element to refer you powerfully. They must be in a position of influence with other people that you wish to meet (prospects). This doesn’t mean that they have to have ‘power’…just that people must respect them…otherwise when they attempt to introduce you nothing will happen.
2. Do they receive your peace?
This is the second key element and it is all about if they want to help you. A person can have all the influence and access to prospects you want to meet…but, not be willing to risk introducing you to them. I cannot tell you how many clients and trainees over the decades of my work I have argued with about whether or not they were wasting their time with folks that would never help them in a significant way. As my most powerful coach in my career, Dick Herron, once said: “You can’t eat potential”. If the peson isn’t willing to be proactive, purposeful and make things happen for you…they aren’t a bad person, they are just not someone you should be investing time in.
Referrals, for those of you that are still salespeople that interact with your customers, are not a (at the highest level of effectiveness) wide area marketing technique. Think about it…how many people do you truly have significant relationship with? I was talking with one of my best friends yesteday (you know who you are) about the reality that we don’t need to be best or even good friends with everyone we interact with. We do need, however, to remain in close proximity with those that already are. Your network, through significant relationships you already have and will naturally create over the course of your life and career, is vast enough to meet all your needs (the reasonable ones). But, if you spread yourself to thin desperately trying to make as many friends as possible…most of them won’t be productive referral partners and you will burn out (this is a simple fact of referral based sales…emotion is a key part of this and if you spend it all too foolishly on insignificant relationships…you won’t have enough left to function in front of customrs and key referral partners).
I didn’t want to make this a Bible study, you can look up Luke 10 on your own (and I hope you do). Now you know why and how I teach my clients to build a real foundation for their referral bases sales efforts and sometimes change their lives forever.
I hope this has been helpful, inspiring and exhortative. If you are a Christian and didn’t realize this…you now have the impetus to integrate your faith and career more. If you aren’t a believer, but, really value humanity and love the engagement you get from doing referral based sales…you will love this too. You don’t have to be a Christian to care about people and/or love referral marketing…and many of my friends are just like you. The key, no matter what, is this: Find the right people, see if they are willing to help you and then stay connected to them if you want more and better referral based sales results.
This is what I do, this is how I coach and train and I would be honored if you share and/or comment upon this post.
If you are a Financial Services practice owner, successful Realtor or Mortgage professional, I make my living helping folks like you improve your performance and as a result change your life and community for the better. In addition, I am blessed to be able to offer keynote speaking on valuable topics like “How to instigate transformation in the culture of organizations ready to grow.” Other engagements feature coaching with sales leadership, tightly focused training on referral based sales and consulting strategically with executives on organizational change.
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