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Where to Find Your Hidden Referrals

Have you run out of people to ask for referrals or are you going back to the same well too often? I know a place where referrals might exist that most of you have never explored. As with all referrals, they must be earned so I can’t guarantee some of you will find a treasure but for others, there’s a bounty waiting to be tapped.  Before I show you the map let me help you decide if it’s worth taking this journey, because you’ll only find treasure if you’ve earned it with your past efforts and actions.

Are you sea worthy?                

Before we set sail I’ll need to check your ship over to see if it’s sea worthy.

  1. Do you have a recognizable sales process that a buyer would enjoy and say was well worth their time going through?
  2. Do most buyers enjoy relating to you? Are you easy to work with?
  3. Do buyers have an enjoyable or valuable experience working through a buying process with you?
  4. Do you have a competitive product/service at a competitive price? (not the low cost leader but competitive)
  5. Did you demonstrate a true value proposition connected to the buyers’ objectives?

If you answered yes to three or more of the questions, you can proceed. If you had three or more no answers, the chances of there being referrals waiting are slim. You might take this list and make sure you can say yes to these in the future.

What type of captain are you?

I need to see if you might sink the ship when seas are rough or if you can roll with what the ocean throws at you. Here’s your test. Would you say yes or no to these statements?

  1. I believe everyone should buy from me and I should win every deal.
  2. When a decision goes against me, I’m done with that contact and have no need to contact them in the future.
  3. I take it personally when buyers decide against me or make what I see as a “bad” decision.
  4. I will put down a buyer or find fault in them with my teammates if they decide to go with the competition.

Three of more no’s and you can move on. Two or more yes’s and I am not sure you’ll find treasure. But if you have to find out where it is, keep reading.

Can you navigate in tricky waters?

This referral conversation you’ll engage in is rarely visited due to the tricky navigation to pull it off. If you have a good ship, have passed the captains test and can follow the map I will layout, the treasure is almost yours. Here is your next test.

  1. Do you often change a proven process to make it a better “fit” for you?
  2. Do you tend to skip a step or two of a proven process in the name of being efficient or creative?
  3. Once you know where the treasure is will you forget the map and figure out your own approach?

Two or three no’s would be the better answers here. Since you have come this far you can proceed but if you had yes’s to these answers you could wreck your ship when you are close to the treasure. Good luck.

Where the Treasure Lies

For those that have passed all tests, you will find the treasure you earned with the buyers that went with the competition or did not make a decision to go with you. Yep, that’s right, the people that said NO have a treasure you built with them. If you sold well and did what was required in having a sea worthy ship and captained the sales process humbly, you could have a treasure waiting for you. Now can you follow the map?

The Treasure Route

  1. Create a list of your lost deals over the past year or two.
  2. Review the four questions in the sea worthy ship section to see if you pass with each contact. If you don’t, take them off the list.
  3. Now review the list again and check to see how you were as a captain during the process. If you did not pass with any buyer, take them off the list.
  4. Now call your list in the following manner:
  5. Hi _____, it’s _________ from __________.  (short Chit chat) I hope things are going well for you with (the competitor), no hard feelings here. I enjoyed working with you through the process. I had a couple of questions I hoped you could answer. Did you have minute?
  6. Thanks
  7. I build my business on referrals, and although you did not buy from me I wanted to ask if you found working with me to be enjoyable and valuable?
  8. How so? What did you like about me, our company, process or product?
  9. Thank you, I appreciate that. I enjoyed working with you as well.
  10. I would like to be introduced to people in your position at (explain your ideal client or customer) that would enjoy working with me during their buying process. I understand there are not guarantees of them doing business with me, there never is. Could you think of one or two people that might enjoy getting to know me and learning about our company in case they will be making a purchase for our type of solution?
  11. Be quiet and let them think.
  12. If they have one or two people, ask them to tell you more about them. Once you feel they would be a good fit, ask them if they would make an introduction for you.
  13. If they do you have found some treasure.

In some selling situations you can do everything right and your product, service, or price was just not going to fit. How you perform your role as a salesperson and respond to adversity will carry a lot of weight with most buyers, the type of weight that can be measured with gold. It’s time to go cash in on the good work you have done.

Management Application

Use the questions in this article to stimulate conversation in a sales meeting or while riding along with your sales people. If you really want to assess how things are going you can call the contacts that didn’t buy and ask them the questions. Who knows, you might just find a referral or two for your team and show them how it works.

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