According to Jeffery Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and an American guru of sales techniques, "earning a referral is like earning a report card". If you are earning no referrals, it indicates you are not doing well at building customer relationships and friendships. If you are earning a ton of referrals, it indicates you are doing a fantastic job of turning customers into business associates and friends.
Many salespeople labor under the mistaken belief that referrals happen when a customer is nice enough to give a name. The reality is that getting referrals has nothing to do with customers being nice. It is about whether the customers trust the salesperson. Trust is essential because when customers give referrals, they take a risk. They risk the friendship or business relationship with the person they refer to you.
Referrals need to be earned by earning the customer's trust. Gitomer suggests five methods of accomplishing this.
1. Become Friends With Your Customers
You can earn referrals by becoming friends with your customers. This makes sense because people tend to promote their friends. When you spend time with your customers at events that are not strictly business, they see you more as a friend than as a salesperson.
2. Great Service, Great Referrals
You can earn referrals by providing great products and services. Customers need to know you are good at what you do and reliable before they take a risk on giving you referrals. When you show them you are a trusted professional, they spread the word.
3. Be Proactive With Your Customer Service
You can earn referrals by being proactive about customer service. This builds loyalty and trust. When you anticipate customer needs, they think of you as a great asset and are naturally disposed toward recommending you.
4. Go The Extra Mile
You can earn referrals by providing extra value. When you exceed their expectations, they are sure to speak well about you.
5. Genuinely Help Your Customers
You can earn referrals by first giving referrals to your customers. When you help them gain new business, they are apt to help you in return. Just be careful not to make it obvious that you expect something in return. That comes off as manipulative.
In asking for referrals, it is important to understand that you must establish trust with the customer first. In the sales world there are three types of referrals: solicited, proactive, and unsolicited. Solicited referrals are ones the salesperson asked for. Proactive are referrals that a customer volunteered without the salesperson asking. When the salesperson receives a call from someone who was given the salesperson's name, it is an unsolicited referral.
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