I’m approaching selling from a different angle today, but before we begin make sure you get in on my crazy-cool contest. You could win a whole month of one-on-one with me, two hours with James Chartrand of Men with Pens and a free copy of my fear-smashing ebook, Demystify your Fear.
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No matter what kind of business you own, if referrals aren’t already a big part of your sales strategy then you’re missing out.
When most people hear about affiliates, recommendations and referrals, their first thought is referrals as source of new customers. This is a big part of it, for sure. When people start talking about your business and send their friends and family to buy your product, you know you’ve made it big.
However, referrals go way beyond basic sales. The power of referrals affects your business in more ways than you can imagine.
I use an RSS reader to keep track of the blogs that I like to keep up with. The more I hang out online, the more I discover. These days, the little counter of “unread posts” numbers in the hundreds. Unfortunately, I’ve forced to hit the “mark all as read” button to resent the counter pretty regularly.
However, while I’m busy ignoring the blogs I know and love, I’m still reading a bunch of stuff, every day.
I’m a sucker for links on twitter
When someone I know and trust tweets the occasional link, coupled with a few compelling words, I almost always click. I ignore my RSS reader and all the blogs I personally selected as “favorites”, instead choosing to go read the recommendations of others.
Stop and think about that for a second. The power of referrals has literally ensnared my attention and my reading habits.
Think about the last few movies you went out of your way to see at the cinema. If you’re like most people, you would have done so not because of the trailer or posters you saw. You wouldn’t even see it because of a review. You saw it because one of your buddies uttered these golden words “you have to see this movie”.
When someone tells you “you have to”… then you’ve got no choice
You trust the people you know. You value their opinions. That is the power of referrals. It’s not just about referring people into business deals. Here is how the power of referrals is affecting your business:
- Referrals make people check out your website/blog posts
- Referrals land you with the best staff you’ll ever find
- Referrals score you partnerships and joint ventures with folks who matter
- Referrals hook you up with coverage in the media
- Referrals are the reason we follow you on twitter
- Referrals have been helping ideas go “viral” since before it was a buzzword
Word-of-mouth isn’t just a marketing strategy, it’s the backbone of all sales. No matter what your goals are as an entrepreneur, your business lives (and dies) by the power of referrals. Build a business that spouts out referrals like it’s going out of style and you’ll be made.
I built a private therapy practice and a corporate business psychology consultancy with nothing but the power of referrals. The first client the practice ever worked with was a friend of a friend. When he loved my work, he sent a few people my way. Things spiraled out from there and soon enough, I was booked solid.
During that time, I learned that there are three golden rules for getting boat loads of referrals.
You’ll spot salespeople violating these rules and making big mistakes in every industry. At best, it means they’ll be ignored and forgotten – at worst, they come across as total assholes. Follow these rules and you’ll fast track your referrals and sell up a storm!
Don’t be desperate – Golden Rule Principal #1
Most salespeople think they act like pros when it comes to networking. They believe they don’t come across as desperate and needy. Yet time and time again, they make the mistake of only networking when they need something.
They only get in touch when they’re after a favor, want a testimonial or need a new client. A needy salesperson can be smelled a mile away.
When you network, connect and make friends just for the fun of it, you’re building crucial relationships before you need to leverage them. You come across as a giving person, with an abundance of time, expertise (and coffee) to give to friends, colleagues and customers.
Stay in touch and build connections in advance. Network without an expectation to “get something” – do it because it’s fun. It is fun… and rewarding.
Follow this golden rule and when the time comes that you need something, you’ll find an abundance of people waiting to help. Get to know them, now.
Don’t be a jerk – Golden Rule Principal #2
Even if you don’t think you’re a big shot or that your recommendations matter, they really do. They matter hugely.
We’ve all got the power to refer and we all have people who take our opinions and advice seriously. Most of us get caught up in our own goals and forgot what our referrals mean to others.
When you connect a friend with something they need or simply love, everyone wins and they appreciate you for it.
If you’re looking to do something significant with your business and you want referrals, you need to get karma on your side. Have a look around the people you know and see who you can help.
Who could you connect?
Is there anyone you know who would be just right for a certain product, service or job opportunity?
Even emailing a friend a poignant, relevant article from your favorite blog is hugely useful. They’ll appreciate you for it.
I referred a friend for a job at a client’s company. Years later, that friend got promoted, got a budget and hired me to consult on a lucrative project. You never know who might be important one day, so play it safe and help out everyone you can. Learn to enjoy the process too – even if my friend had never paid me back directly, I would still be just as happy they got a great job.
It doesn’t matter if you believe in karma, “doing unto others” or nothing at all. When you give referrals, good stuff happens.
Hook up as many people as you can with ideas, opportunities and things they want, need or love and do it without expectations. It’ll pay dividends in more ways than you can imagine.
Sell something worth talking about – Golden Rule Principal #3
People far smarter than me have great ideas about how to building remarkable products. I’ve included this last golden rule because failing to follow it will completely negate the effects of rules one and two.
I think it’s important, as we progress through this Sales Psychology series, that we keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, it isn’t clever referral tactics that matter…
If you want people to refer their friends to buy your stuff, go do something so unbelievably cool that people can’t help but talk about it.
Follow the three golden rules and you’ll win big sales. Referrals are all you’ll ever need.
What do you think? Any great ideas for eliciting quality referrals from people? Speak up in the comments.