Sales representatives can contact their prospective customers through cold calls, but this process has a high risk of annoying the customer. So, there has to be an easier way to get the attention of prospective customers. There is an easier way of contacting customers. It is called referrals.
Why should sales representatives reduce the number of cold calls they make and increase the number of referrals they use?
The most important reason why sales representatives should start preferring referrals over cold calling is the closing rate. It is around 30% for cold calling while for referrals it is around 50%. Using referrals does not increase the sales cycle. In fact it gives representatives more time to search for prospects.
If that is the case then why sales representatives are afraid of asking for referrals.
Reasons why sales representative do not ask for referrals
Many sales representative are not asking for referrals. This is because they feel it is self-promotion and they feel that they will be viewed as arrogant and pushy. Another reason representatives are not asking for referrals is because they fear rejection. When they make cold calls they do not know the person and need not feel much when they say no. However, this is not the case with referrals. These are people they know and it is closer to home. Thus,they take it personally. Besides, these reasons the other reasons why they are not asking are:
The network has been ignored
The main reason is that they have not bothered to nurture their networks. They do not keep in touch with their contacts. And everyone knows that the ability to ask is inversely proportional to the time between interaction. If the time is large, then the chances of getting referrals are low. But do they nurture their networks? No, they do not. Instead they focus on converting current leads into deals.
Representatives feel that they won’t get them
Many sales representative feel that their customers are not satisfied with the service or product they received. This is the reason they feel that the customer will not oblige them with referrals. If companies get this reason from their representatives then it means that they have a bigger problem. They must ask themselves why are their customers not happy. Is it because of the gaps in the sales process, are the sales team and the delivery teams communicating properly, and so on.
How to get sales representatives to overcome their fear of asking referrals?
Getting a sales representative to overcome their fear is not an easy thing. The first thing that companies must do is make the sales representative understand the importance of referrals. They must be made to understand that leads are important for sales funnel. The best way to do this is to form a strategy.
How to form a strategy for the referral program?
Even when you use a referral program will be ineffective if companies do not have a strategy for it. There are a few strategies that one can follow to ensure success. They are
Integrate it into your sales process
Companies must make it a point to develop programs for referrals and makes they are followed by their sales. They have to be committed to measuring both the activities as well as the results. Companies must remember that they can hold their representative accountable. They can program their best CRM to track both the activities and results.
Ensure that representative have the correct skills
Getting representatives to ask for referrals means that having to change their natural behavior. That means they have to be trained.
These training must make it easy for asking referrals. They should include:
How to identify which clients to ask
Sales representatives cannot ask all clients for referrals. They should know how to identify these clients.
Identify the points that representatives can use
Companies must have points present in their account management process and sales process that can create opportunities. They must use them.
Create opportunities that representatives can use
Asking every client or prospect for referrals is not polite. Companies must create opportunities where the customer will not feel awkward about giving referrals.
Give the words or scripts
Representatives must be taught what words to use when asking for referrals. They must be trained on how to use the topic being discussed to gain referrals. Companies need not dedicate a half day for training. They can practice this during their meetings.
Getting referrals is not enough, companies must make sure that they are worth it
Companies must validate the referrals their representatives get. This will serve two purposes. First is that companies will know how well it works. Second, the companies can show their sales team the effect it has on the company’s performance.
A large number of sales representatives do not follow what they have been taught during training and if you do not ensure they follow it, you cannot reap the success.
Companies can get more leads if their sales representatives focus on getting referrals instead of doing cold calls. In fact the performance of their sales team will improve leaps and bounds when they do this.