HOW TO GET MORE REFERRALS
In this interview Joanne Black shares with you a clear path to developing a referral strategy.
As a leading authority on referral selling, she gives insights into why it's the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50% of the time.
Key Takeaways -
- Set clear goals around referrals.
- Knowing how to ask for referrals is just as important as knowing who to ask.
- Be specific about who you'd like to be introduced to.
- Determine your motivating metrics to track your referral success.
- Referral asking is a behavioral skill that requires accountability.
- Get access to the Roadmap Your Referral Pipeline Workbook
Today, I'm talking with Joanne Black, a leading LinkedIn authority on driving sales through referrals. She's the best selling author of "Pick Up the Damn Phone" and works with sales teams to ensure their pipeline is filled with qualified referrals. Welcome, Joanne.
It's always great to talk about my favorite topic.
Well, let's let's go for the jugular then, right? Referrals.
So one of the things is I talk with many financial firms who are either struggling to ask for or even get referrals from their clients. In your experience, how do you build a successful pipeline of referrals?
It takes it takes a few things. And I certainly understand this feeling of not getting referrals or thinking that we have great clients. So, of course, I'll refer business to us. And so building a pipeline of referrals means that you need a strategy around referrals first, like, you know, like anything worth doing. And I'm a salesperson, so I don't believe in binder strategies. I write six bullets, whatever.
But what are your goals around referrals? What do you want to see happen as a result of referrals? It is a number of new clients who want a different kind of client. What exactly is it you want to achieve? And then how will you measure your success?
Once you identify that goal, then what's the next step in truly building that referral pipeline
So then you have to decide again, what are the metrics? What are you going to measure? And then what a lot of people don't realize is referral selling is actually a skill. It's a behavior change. It's a way to learn how to ask, to get an introduction. So it's not just, oh, yes, nice client. I'd like a name of somebody in your network I can talk to.
No, it's asking nice client for an introduction to someone that they know who matches the profile of your ideal client.
And that's the skill piece of behavior change and it requires accountability for results. And then the next thing, so you have strategy, have skills is implementation.
Because without a plan to execute the strategy to build skills with reinforcement and coaching, nothing happens. It's still just something we think about and we dream about. But we're not doing it now.
What would you say are some of the common mistakes you see companies make, both when it comes to referrals, selling and even social selling? Right? They're definitely connected.
A big mistake is assuming that our clients will refer business to us and make sure it happens from time to time. Somebody says, oh, you know, somebody told me to call you when you're so excited about that. But that's not proactive. It's not intentional. It's not a really smart way to build your business. So that's a big mistake. They're kind of sitting back and waiting for people to come to us.
And another is just assuming we can just tell everybody to ask for referrals. You know, if we're independent, if we work for a firm, I've had a lot of leaders say to me, well, I just tell my people to go ask. So then I say, well, how's that working for you? And they said silence, because it doesn't work, because it is a skill.
And that's another thing that a downfall really is that people don't make the time to build their skills and get coached and reinforced on those skills so that referral selling becomes a habit and becomes the way they work.
Now, what would you say is sticking on the lines of things to avoid? What about with social selling when it comes to like LinkedIn? What are some of the mistakes you're seeing people make? Do you see that people connect and they think "Well, I made a connection, so I'm done"? (Laughs)
Yes. So my philosophy of my deep belief is that LinkedIn is a place to begin a conversation and begin a relationship. You do that first by sending a personal invitation, not about hitting buttons. It's not about the number of contacts we have. It's a number of connections we make.
Always send a personal invitation and it could be met someone at event and you'll just say, you know, it was great to meet you last night and fill in the blank. Let's stay in touch. A little something to invite them personally. And then every time when someone invites you and you accept them, just click, accept, send a personal response.
Now, you may think this sends a message that, oh, it's just too time consuming. I can do this, but think about it. How much time does that really take? And what you're doing is beginning a conversation.
One of the things we do is I always ask when someone invites me, you know, you invited me. So I'm sure you have questions about referral selling.
Let me know what they are and will be in a conversation, and people write back, and they do have questions or sometimes they'll write back. I've had people write and say, what's for selling? I'm sure that person just pushed a button. They're not interested in me or anyone else. So those are those are mistakes people make about LinkedIn.
So speaking about the time it takes, this is clearly a long term play, right? It's not going to happen in a matter of months or even weeks. So how should someone set their expectations when it comes to referrals selling?
Number one, it's about the number of people we ask, because if we don't ask, we don't get. And you'd be surprised. Sometimes you reach someone at the exact moment they need you. It doesn't have to be a really long play.
In many cases it is. I was just in the meeting this morning with a financial adviser who someone referred to business and this person, some company and the business had been sold and they had all these assets and they were trying to figure out what to do with them.
And they made this connection with a financial adviser. And within like two months, it took a long time for the deal to be closed because they had all these different assets and they were all liquid. But it happened. So you don't know when that time would be, when or the compelling events that are going to happen.
You know, it could be that someone needs to plan their retirement. Well, that is a longer term play. You want to start and then you want to be involved on and on and on with them.
But what if someone has just lost a spouse? What if someone has just got divorced? Those are things that we can't always anticipate. So that's why we need to be vigilant and be in touch, help people out with ideas even if they don't become a client right away.
I mean, that's my point of view. I've been accused of being too generous about giving too much away. But that's what I do, because sales and life are about helping people.
So what can we do to make people's life a little easier, give them some things that well that they never thought about but they need to pay attention to? That's what we do
It's amazing. And I love how it's just it's really just being authentic. Right? If you're authentic, if you're consistent, if you're highly visible, if you're helpful, why wouldn't your world refer business to you or want to do business with you?
So there was a part in your book, "Pick Up The Damn Phone". I love the title, by the way (laughs), as you had mentioned, there was a phrase that said, good, fast, cheap, pick two. And there are countless companies out there that want to achieve this sales trifecta of good clients quickly and cheaply. In your experience, what's the reality?
It doesn't work. So, in that phrase I heard years and years and years ago, you know, when somebody needs a quick answer and needs something done overnight or quickly, you're going to pay more for it. Well, think of a package. You know, FedEx, you pay way more for overnight. You pay more for a Saturday delivery. You pay more for a delivery before a certain hour. And that's the same in a lot of professions.
That's what happens. So you're going to pay more if it's last minute and you have to scramble and get your team together and involve people in this and this, and that, it's just going to cost more.
So that's that's just a fact. So if you want it cheap, it's not going to be so fast. Take your time. Oh, yeah. FedEx, you know, I can send it ground. It can take five to seven days to get there, that's not a problem. But if we wait till the last minute, we don't have that option, it happens in services businesses as well.
And so what's the mentality that they should approach client acquisition from?
When you get a referral introduction, you get the meeting. So when you talk about the cost of referrals, here's the cost. You have notecards that hopefully you have already with your name and company on them and you need to put a stamp on the envelope and address it and send a thank you note to the person who referred to, That is the cost.
Which is... about a dollar, right? (laughs) 50 cents for the stamp. Right. About a dollar. A dollar twenty five.
Well, now it's your time writing the note, you know, but you're not going to write a speech. It's, you know, thank you so much for referring so and so to me. I really appreciate it. And, you know, it's three lines that's, you know, that's it. So the point is, it's not a marketing cost. It's minimal, but the impact is maximum.
So what would you say wrapping up is a key take away a couple of key takeaways that you want people to really think about when they go back to their sales and marketing system and figure out, OK, where do we add in referrals selling?
The first thing they do needs to be to sit down if they have people to talk to, to talk about a referral strategy. What do we want to accomplish with this? What do we want to do? How are we going to measure it? How are we going to track it? And they can easily track it into CRM very, very easily. Just to add another dropdown for proactive referrals. People usually have a dropdown, but as for just referrals in general, and those are the ones that just happen to fly in through the window.
But we want to measure the ones that we ask for. And it's measuring the number of ask know that's the first metric, because if we don't ask, we don't get.
And then track the asks and say you ask X number of people, how many referrals did you receive, how many referral meetings did you conduct and then how many new clients did you get? And you can put other metrics in those. But those are the key milestones. And then you can obviously get more granular than that. But is thinking through that that makes a difference?
Well, anyways, well, thank you, Joanne, for sharing your insights today with my network.
As I said, it's my favorite topic, and I always love talking about referrals and sharing insights.