By Keith Rosen, MCC
The Executive Sales Coach TM
One of the greatest testaments to the quality of your service and your work is a referral from a client or colleague.
With all of the effort you put forth to excel in your career, there is nothing worse than wasting a perfectly good referral that was hand delivered to you by a happy customer (an associate, friend, or family member, for example).
Whether it’s due to a poor follow up, inadequate service, a comment made to the referral that was better left unsaid, or a sales tactic that turned the warm referral into a cold fish, there are many ways that you can damage a referral and the possibility of a sale.
Think about what this costs you. The more obvious cost is the loss of a perfectly good selling opportunity.
However, there’s much more at stake that you stand to lose.
What about the person on your referral team, the select group who provides you with a steady stream of referrals? This person is putting their neck on the line for you. Once your referral source gets wind of a mistake, you can bet that that will be the last time he or she sends you another referral.
When you compromise your relationship with a referral source, it not only costs you one possible sale but many potential, future sales.
Moreover, what if it’s a customer who sends you a referral? If you have failed to meet expectations, how does this customer now perceive you? Demonstrating a less than admirable trait to a customer may alter their once positive perception of you and may tarnish their trust and confidence in you. Not only will you lose the chance for future referrals, but you will run the risk of losing this customer’s business as well.
Just like your customers, referrals are a privilege, not a right. You don’t automatically deserve referrals, you have to earn them regardless of how long you’ve been in your position, known someone, or how much work you’ve already done for a customer.
Remember that the players on your referral team are doing you the favor. Make sure that you appreciate their efforts in a measurable and visible way as thanks for taking time out of their busy schedules to help you.
Acknowledge the efforts of your referral team.
The biggest blunder that people make is to forget to thank the person who provided access to a referral. Thank each person on your referral team when you:
- Get the referral. Call or send a thank you card to let them know how much you appreciate them for thinking of you and for taking the time to send you a referral. Reinforce the fact that each referral will be given the same exemplary service and attention that all of your customers deserve.
- Meet with the referral. After you connect with the referred prospect, call or send a thank you card with an update on where each referral stands as it relates to your selling cycle.
- Sell the referral. Once a sale is made and the referral becomes a customer, rather than waiting until you have completed this project, immediately call your referral source and send a thank you card. This way, you are the first person to let them know that their referral is now your customer.
Before you know it, with an influx in referrals, you can spend less time marketing and prospecting new clients.
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach