September 8, 2009
Filed under: Sales Dish of the Day
Referrals are (dare we say it?) the lifeblood of any distributor’s business. Still, getting the referral tap flowing often takes some effort. Ann Latham, president of the consulting firm Uncommon Clarity, says, “First you need self-confidence. If you think your product or service has improved your client or customer’s condition, ask for a referral.”
Be specific when making your request so you can make it easy for them to help, she says. Before approaching them, think “Who would I like to meet? What are the first three names that come to mind? Someone from a particular company? Someone with a known need?” Don’t make them try to select the perfect referral without sufficient information.
Hank Shaw, chief marketing officer for The Phelps Group, stresses the ability to read your client’s comfort level in providing referrals. Give them “an out if you think they might be uncomfortable providing the recommendation,” he says.
For example, tell them, “We would appreciate this reference, but we understand if it against your company’s policy.” Shaw suggests making the policy the bad guy, so it’s not a personal decision. – Kenneth Hein