“Dave, how can I get more referrals?”
“Let me ask you. What have you done to deserve more referrals?”
“Deserve? What do you mean by that?”
Referrals are the most powerful tool in any sales consultant’s arsenal. A referred prospect is much more likely to be ready to listen to you, to trust what you say and ultimately to buy from you. Referrals make your job easier, and help you sell more with less effort and in less time. What else could any sales consultant ask for? If you want to increase your referral rate, however, you have to start not by looking to your existing customers, but by finding out how you conduct business on a daily basis.
Lesson number one: How likeable are you? People buy you first, not your dealership or product line up. So to get more referrals, you have to make like Forrest Gump and give your customers something to sincerely and thoroughly like, trust, and respect in you.
What are you doing every day to be more likeable? Like everything else in sales, there is no magic likeability bullet that works with every guest. Flexibility is key. Remember, the sales process isn’t about you. It is about putting the customer first. But how do you do that?
Lesson number two: Have you made a plan to seek referrals? No? You haven’t? Please don’t make me say, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Your plan should consist of three parts.
1. Start a monthly Advocate Program: Once a year do a customer genealogy to see who or what was responsible for all the additions to your customer base. The odds are that you’ll find between 5-20 primary referral sources ranging from current clients to friends, partners, and community contacts.
Make an Advocate List of these active referral sources then schedule regular contact with them. Send something — not a brochure or promotional piece — but something they will value and use, like an article or book you think they will enjoy. Make a phone call or invite them to meet for lunch or breakfast.
Whatever you send or do must be of some value to them, not simply an advertisement for you. Your goal is to help them improve their business, not your own. Think about it this way – what could you give them that will help grow their revenue? In helping to grow their business, it won’t take long before they return the favor and help grow yours.
2. Develop a culture of referrals: Ask questions that benefit your guests first. One Evans Consulting Enterprise, LLC sales consultant doubled her referrals simply by asking the following guest-focused question at the end of every guest engagement: “Now, how can I help you?”
By putting the needs of her guests first, she demonstrates that she truly cares about them. When people sense that you care, they tend to want to return the favor. In fact, you may find that many of your guests are genuinely surprised by a question like this because no one has ever asked them that before. That’s why your follow-up question is equally indispensable: “You’ve helped my business grow by becoming part of our family network. I’d like to help your business grow, too. So let me ask you – what type of people do you want to meet to help increase your revenue?”
3. Write letters: If you don’t feel comfortable asking for referrals face-to-face, try the approach that’s worked for sales consultants, direct marketers, and hopeless romantics for centuries: write a letter!
Regardless of the dealership you’re in, an effective letter writing campaign can bring in a steady stream of new leads that will have an immediate and dramatic impact on your bottom line. When drafting your letter, the key is to make sure it says four things:
* Thank them for their business.
* Remind them how you met – especially if it was through a referral.
* Ask them to send you some names.
* Tell them that you will reward them with lunch or a gift basket if their referral turns into business.
Sound simple? That’s because it is. The real beauty is that it works. Yes, some of these ideas require you to know detailed information about your customers, but isn’t that what sales is all about?
Lesson number three: Are you building relationships? At its most basic level, selling is relationship building. To build it, you have to know a few things about the other person who’s in the relationship with you. If you haven’t taken the time to find out and don’t know this information about your guests, who does?
There are countless ways to let them know you care and you are thinking about them. You will soon find what works for you, and then do them often. You’ll start to see results – and more referrals – in no time. I guarantee it.