Episode Eighteen

Stop the Cold Calling: Three Steps to Start Referral Selling

Guest: Joanne Black, author and founder of No More Cold Calling

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Joanne Black: Featured Image

About This Episode


Are you leaving money on the table?

You’ve done the hard work of building a relationship with a potential customer and even were successful in getting them to convert. So you move them over to your customer success team to close the deal, and you go on to the next cold call or email.

News flash: you’ve just left a lot of money on the table.

Joanne Black, founder of No More Cold Calling, is on a mission to end this. For more than 22 years, she’s been helping businesses stop the madness of cold calling and referral sell instead.

Joanne defines a referral as receiving an introduction to the person you want to meet. There is power is someone introducing you to another potential client with a business reason; you’ll always get the meeting. Even if that person doesn’t become a client, they become an extension of your network.

Joanne Black: Referral Selling Sales Engagement

Referrals convert at an unbelievable rate over 50% of the time. It solves two big issues:

  1. It gets you a consistent stream of qualified leads in the pipeline. Everyone wants more leads no matter how great your business is doing.
  2. As a salesperson, it gets you the meeting with the actual decision makers.

But Why Is It So Important Today?

It’s always been important, but technology has shifted us away from the personalization of it. People tend to use social media like LinkedIn to find referrals, but they make a grave mistake in the process. Instead of connecting, starting a conversation, and then making a pitch, they write their pitch in their invitation to connect.

LinkedIn is great for research. It’s a great place to learn more about a potential client’s background, find similarities between the two of you, and begin a conversation.

Use social media to get all the background and get them to acknowledge that they know someone you want to meet, that’s how you utilize the digital space.

And once you set up a call with them, you’ll learn everything you need to know. How? You only know on LinkedIn what someone puts on LinkedIn. In the conversation, you can get intel that nobody else gets.

Three Steps To Get Referrals The Right Way

1. Take a good look at your current clients.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business, if you even have one client, have you asked them for a referral? Ask every single client you’ve worked with and built a good relationship with through the buying process for a referral. Referrals are the most underleveraged resource to get new clients.

2. YOU need to be ask

Often times, as a salesperson, you build the relationship, get them to convert, and then move them on to the customer success team. Don’t expect them to ask for the referral. If you’ve spent time and effort building that relationship, you have to do the asking.

3. Don’t automate the process

People do business with people, so don’t find technology that will do this for you. Ask for the referrals personally. You’re more likely to convert the referral because you’re talking with someone who actually wants to talk with you. It collapses your prospecting time because once a client makes an introduction and you schedule the call, you’ve close to no time prospecting, which also increases conversion time.

Building a referral program requires some investment in time and strategy. It needs to be an outbound strategy that sales leaders say, this is our outbound approach. You need:

  1. A strategy of how you’re going to ask.
  2. Metrics that allow you to evaluate and measure people.
  3. Integration of referrals into your sales process because it’s a skill and behavior change that requires coaching and accountability.

Joanne Black: Sales Engagement Referral Selling

Getting Your Company On Board

When Joanne comes into a business to teach them about referral selling, she starts with three simple steps:

  1. Begin by talking to the CRO or head of sales to discuss what they want to accomplish, what would make a program like this successful, and what they want their metrics to be. She likes to start with a small group of about 8-12 people so there can be accountability to the results they agree they want to see. 
  2. She helps them set a goal for their company, no matter how small. Even if the goal is to bring in one more client through a referral, there can be accountability to reach and measure that.
  3. Build a referral culture. Culture is something people do when no one is looking. So it’s important to not just teach a team how to get referrals but to ingrain it in the culture. It doesn’t happen overnight but in stages; it starts with one group and gradually expands.

It’s not complicated, but it is an investment. Today, start with this: take a look at your current clients, the ones whom you have relationships with already who can make an introduction for you. Be very specific about who you want to meet and why you want to meet them, and watch your revenue soar.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Joanne Black from No More Cold Calling. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find an energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

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