Salespeople seeking referrals might want to know when they can stop making prospecting calls and just wait for the phone to ring. They can’t. But fortunately there is a way to make nothing but hot sales calls with a fantastic rate of return. The secret is to get introduced referrals.
A hot call is the opposite of a cold call, which is made to someone who doesn’t know you and is not expecting your call. When a person has been referred to you, a hot call shortens the sales cycle, increases your credibility, results in qualified prospects, and means a new referred client more than 50 percent of the time. Why would you waste your time doing anything else?
Cold calling is a numbers game. If you make 100 calls, you’ll talk to about 20 people, schedule 10 appointments, and, if you’re lucky, close one new deal. That’s a 1 percent return on your time. Not only does cold calling have a low-percentage return, those who do it and those who receive them rarely have a positive attitude about them. According to a recent survey, 63 percent of salespeople say cold calling is what they most dislike about their jobs. In addition, 94 percent of buyers can’t remember a single prospector or message they received during the past two years; 91 percent of buyers never respond to an unsolicited inquiry; 88 percent will have nothing to do with cold callers; and 71 percent find cold calls annoying.
So for referrals that work, take the following steps to making hot calls:
- Make a list of everyone you know: current clients, past clients, peers, neighbors, service providers, friends, past coworkers, volunteer groups, and so on. You should have at least 100 names. Prioritize the list so that the people you know the best are at the top.
- Set a goal and decide how many people you will contact each week. Arrange in-person meetings if possible.
- Tell each source that you are building your business through referrals and would like their help. Describe your ideal client and ask them to refer one or two people who meet your description.
- When your referral source makes a suggestion, find out as much as you can about the person and his or her company.
- Then ask your referral source to make the introduction. The introduction could be by phone, in person, or by e-mail.
Joanne Black is the founder of No More Cold Calling. She is a professional speaker, sales trainer, and the author of No More Cold Calling, The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust.