Sales People Don’t Want to Join Referral/Lead Groups…They Want More Sales!
The truth is that, except in very specific cases, joining a referral/lead group is a tremendously speculative investment of time and energy for a salesperson to make and even more precarious for a business (Sales Manager) to support.
The two cases that come to mind are (1) you have no friends and business associates (new salesrep out of school) and/or you are joining an established referral group that has at least 4 of your current referral relationships already there and entrenched in the group’s culture. A new Sales Manager friend of mine calls these groups a ‘necessary evil.’
Otherwise, especially if you are already at a level of success in your sales/business career, you shouldn’t even think of wasting your time. INSTEAD, you need to focus on what really works (for thousands of years) in word of mouth marketing. If you already have relationships and know what you are doing you should focus away from the crowd telling you about ‘networking’ and instead focus on the few that will actually produce for you on a predictable basis.
What you want…you really, really want is more sales!
There is an alternative for seasoned professionals (and believe it, or not, it works for new ones with some specific guidance and coaching): Forming small, POP (People of Peace) Groups.
If you have read some of my previous works you might have figured out that the foundation for my referral based sales POV is Luke 10 from the Bible. There Jesus instructs his followers to find POP (People of Peace) and if they recieve peace…remain. Remaining is the key. What does this look like in the business world? Less is more. Let’s cover some basic theory for proactive referral based sales generation and then get into the structure of the POP groups.
In my coaching practice I am far less concerned with meeting alot of new people/referral sources for my clients and far more concerned with optimizing relationships that have a proven track record of producing referrals and introductions. That word introductions is another key part of remaining in relationship with key referral sources.
When your referral sources (and almost every single member of any referral/lead share group around the world hears the word ‘referral’ they automatically think of a prospect that is in the market for your product or service. Let me ask you a question…how hard is it for you to find that on your own as a sales person?!? Doesn’t make sense to me to ask folks that aren’t professionals in our field to find ‘sales’ for us when it is so difficult, across the sales industry, to have full-time sales professionals fill their pipelines as it is.
Does that mean you shouldn’t ask for referrals? Absolutely not! However, you need to differentiate between prospects and their buying journey. In today’s digitally driven world getting in contact with buyers early in their buying journey can be very challenging. After all, why do they need to talk to you when they can Google about your product or service and only interact with you when forced to?
This is where introductions and referrals enter the game and dominate it. Buyers will, in most instances, agree to a meeting (or call) with a salesperson if someone of importance recommends it. The key (very important!) is that you have to be worth introducing (more to be written on this later). Assuming that you can interact with a prospective buyer without ‘commission breath’ lets move into the structure.
People of Peace groups are much, much smaller than your average referral group (I recommend starting with as few as 2-3 and capping at 10-12) and very different in their structure. Here are some of the key features:
- The folks in the room already know each other and are committed to helping grow each others businesses without excuses. No quotas, but, they are there to help.
- They already know what each other does and have a very good idea of who they want to meet. This is why we don’t need to meet weekly and as a result, have a longer monthly meeting to cover strategic planning and execution as opposed to the grind of more frequent meetings.
- There is (in my client’s case) professional instruction and facilitation. I conduct a training on a facet of referral based sales every month for 30-60 minutes to make sure every participant is operating at the same level. The rest of the meeting is facilitated conversation (group coaching) about what each member needs and how we as a group can make it happen…by getting stuff on the calendar.
- The focus is on appointments…not referrals. These professionals are so good at what they do that if they can get a face to face meeting with a prospect in favorable situation…they will eventually get a shot at the business and they have the patience and professionalism to not push the issue. Trust is already in the room.
- When an opportunity comes up that looks good…we often have the introduction (sometimes just social) happen in the meeting via text or email. The whole focus of this is to ‘reap’ introductions that set up each members following month. What would it be like to have 6-10 introductions to key prospects every single month? Would you be able to move them down your pipeline and into your sales funnel?
So, you don’t have a professional facilitator, at this point, so can you do this?!? The answer is yes. You will have to work harder than those that do have a skilled facilitator, but, you will also be able to individually reap the rewards as well.
The key is this: Focus on only inviting your POP…this all fails if there are ‘strangers’ in the room. Even if all you do is go around the room and tell each other what kind of help you need to grow…it will work well enough to easily cost justify the time spent. Remember, this isn’t a referral group and you want sales. Make sure you have your key people that value transperancy there and you will be successful.
I do this for each of my coaching clients and it has worked through the years amazingly. Don’t hesitate to engage if you have questions.
If you are a business owner, 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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