The Lost Art of Sales Referrals

2 min read

The art of sales referrals is under-utilised in B2B sales.

Everywhere you look there’s a referral opportunity, and it’s a goldmine.

In fact, a company’s chance of closing an opportunity can even leap from 18% to 69% when a referral is involved (data from Kluster clients).

Furthermore, sales referrals are often pigeon-holed into ‘customer’ and ‘personal’. In reality, there are two further avenues you can begin to action; ‘prospect’ referrals & ‘qualified out’ referrals.

The four types of sales referrals we employ at Kluster are as follows:

Customer referral

This speaks for itself, however, often salespeople aren’t proactive enough in this regard. If you’ve executed a great sales process, built rapport, and they’re now a benefiting customer, there’s no harm in gently asking them if any of their peers/previous companies would be worth targeting.

Your first line of that email/call should include your client’s name and why they thought it was worthwhile for you to reach out.

Personal referral

Rarer in B2B sales, but it’s crucial that you leave no stone unturned.

For example, a lightbulb moment came for me when Jonny, one of our senior developers had a friend heading up a SaaS sales team. A perfect prospect for us.

Prospect referral

In my last post, I discussed the concept of multiple buyer personas. So, a ‘no’ from one prospect doesn’t mean that account is dead. Every time you hear ‘not interested’, you can try your hand at gaining an introduction to another contact within that account. For example:

“Okay, Will, I also noticed you have a Sales Operations leader called Amy. Occasionally, Sales Ops can see value where a sales leader can’t – would you be comfortable introducing me?”

Even if it’s as simple as sending the new contact an email and copying in your original target, your chances of a meeting skyrocket.

Qualified out referral

You’re on the call and it’s clear that you’re not the right fit. For us, this could be as simple as they’re not on the correct CRM. However, they both understand the proposition & see value in it. Rather than just parting ways, mention you’ll connect with them on LinkedIn as you never know for the future (their company, role, strategy may change).

Often they’ll steer you towards a company they’ve worked at previously, or even better, a specific contact. This, in turn, makes your first touchpoint with that new prospect far more personalised & meaningful. Furthermore, if you’ve been given the backing of someone they know, they’re more likely to listen.

If nothing else, it’s a sure fire way to leave the majority of conversations with a positive outcome. And as we all know, sales is often about chipping away at the mountain…

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