The Challenge of Networking
Referral prospecting is one of the most efficient, and least frustrating, of all sales methods. It is a closing activity that needs to be practiced, rehearsed and tracked for efficiency. Typically, you spend more time selling than prospecting.
To begin, you go through your list of contacts. Many of your contacts will know someone who needs your product or service. If given the opportunity, they will help coach you on what to say and how their referral can be successfully reached by phone or email. Again, getting a referral from someone you know (or someone you don’t know) is your best source for getting solid leads.
Timing is everything. Asking for referrals at the correct moment (when the contact is most enthusiastic for what you have done for him/her, for example) can help increase the referrals you get. Keep in mind, whether or not the contact has purchased from you, it is appropriate to ask for referrals.
When collecting referrals, you need to give an update to your contact. People want to know what happened. Let your contact know that getting referrals is a part of how you get paid. Never give up on a referral. The timing may be off but the referral may be in the market at some future date. Lastly, research shows that the more times you call a given list of prospects from referrals, the better the results.
Attitude is the key factor in selling success while networking. It is all important to ask your contacts for information. Nearly all contacts will comply, if asked, by giving the information you need. However, the fact is that most sales people never ask for information, don’t like to prospect, and especially don’t even ask for referral business. If this is the attitude of your sales staff, then you need to change this attitude right now.