• Duane Cashin

The Most Powerful Sales Tool of All

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Last week I was out to lunch at a local pizza place. A sign on a sandwich board out front read, “No WIFI inside. Have a conversation with an actual person. Pretend it’s 1985.”

I laughed and enjoyed my silent, solo lunch -- no social media to distract me.

It got me to thinking about 1985 though. Do you remember those old days in sales, the ones before the constant supply of leads from marketing, advertising, and online efforts? The days before social selling?

Back then, we had two options when it came to drumming up business: pick up the phone and cold call, or call existing contacts for referrals. Very different days, indeed.

In our experience, the onslaught of leads --  and, let’s face it, most of them are unqualified -- has diverted salespeople’s attention away from asking customers for referrals, and referrals are the most powerful sales tool of all.

Now, this is not to say that social selling isn’t important, because it is. But, we all know that a personal introduction beats the pants off an impersonal one any day of the week.

So, why are so many salespeople spending all of their time attempting to generate and follow-up on online leads that produce meager results?

  • Here are some of the reasons we hear when we ask sales teams “why?”:  ​It’s just easier to call a warm lead even if it turns out to be a dud.

  • What if customers say no to a referral? I’ll feel embarrassed about asking.

  • I’m not sure if my customers are really happy enough with me to ask.

  • I don’t want to bother or upset anyone.

This is excuse-making, and it needs to stop.

The bottom line is that you must have a structured, milestone-based, KPI-driven referral and introduction program in place because referrals are so vital to the growth of your business -- regardless of its size, sophistication, verticals served, or products and services.

An effective sales process, with defined and expected behaviors and measurable metrics, sets the expectation that you will be asking for help (with referrals) when the time is right. It nurtures existing customers in such a way that they want to help you -- without being asked!

The power of introductions is significant, particularly when measured against effort. It’s ongoing, helps with pipeline challenges, improves relationships, is great practice and can leverage the entire company.

The table below uses traditional, generic conversion ratios to show how much more effective and simpler it is to generate revenue when you are getting quality introductions.

Don’t you see? Phone calls and introductions are actually easier and more productive than what you’re doing now.

So, as the pizza place urged me to do, let’s pretend it's 1985.  Let’s get back to calling customers and clients, asking them for referrals and introductions. If you’re unsure how to effectively do that and/or coach your team on how to do it, give us a call, too.

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