Today's guest post is by Dick Beedon, founder and CEO of Amplifinity.
The consensus is that referrals are the best form of leads. They close faster, buy more, and stay longer. In fact, great salespeople have been good at generating referrals for what seems like forever. Until recently, large corporations have struggled to figure out how to scale the success of individual sales reps to systematically and proactively drive large volumes of referrals.
But that is all changing. Technology is coming to market that can help large brands automate the best practices of sales reps and institutionalize the process of generating referrals from customers, employees, and other people who influence the buying decision.
Good technology systems typically are designed to automate manual best practices. Let's take a look at key functions that great salespeople all tend to have in common.
1. They build referral channel.
Most salespeople are excellent networkers. Whether meeting people through the local rotary club, the area chamber of commerce, or local pub, great salespeople can be very good at telling everyone—their friends, family, customers, other employees, and even strangers—about what they do. Great salespeople also know that the more people who know what they do, the better the chance of that specific network spreading the word.
2. They ask their channel for referrals.
Most great sales reps never leave a meeting, either business or personal, without asking for a referral, and they are skilled at handling it with a gentle approach. One of the most staggering statistics that I have recently heard is that between 70 percent and 80 percent of all people are willing to refer leads if asked, yet fewer than 15 percent of individuals and companies ask for them. The great sales reps ask for referrals, and they ask often.
3. They motivate the channel.
Compensation is a great motivator (just ask many of the 17 million commissioned sales reps in the US) and many successful reps build professional referrals networks so they can compensate people and companies for leads that become closed deals. There are both monetary and non-monetary ways to motivate people to do things that actually work.
4. They nurture the channel.
They always thank their network for referrals, they compensate their network in a timely fashion for referrals, and they keep them in the loop.
The good technology solutions should help replicate and facilitate those processes to “institutionalize” and scale the process of driving referrals. These solutions must
Make enrolling customers, employees, and influencers into the referral program easy. (The idea is to build a referral community.)
Provide them with the tools to make it easy to refer.
Track and manage all the workflows, so you can measure results.
Automate the process of thanking and nurturing these channels for their contributions so they continue to perform.
Though the marketplace is changing at a pace liable to cause even the top salespeople to question their sales strategy, one thing will not change. Networking will always be number one for driving quality leads that must be nurtured, thanked, and motivated.
The only real difference today is that these steps can be completed at a faster, more efficient pace, generating exponentially more leads and closed deals -- and enabling the best salespeople to be even better.