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Using Referrals


Disciplines > Sales > Sales articles > Using Referrals

The opening pitch | The continuation | See also


Referrals from other people are silver bullets: they are very powerful but you can only fire them once.

More research

The referral is going to open a door for you. It would be a shame to waste it through lack of sufficient knowledge. Take the necessary time to research further into the person, the problem, the department, the company and its operational environment such that you are ready to take full advantage of the situation.

The opening pitch

The most important part of using referrals, as with any meeting, is the first few words that you use, which makes it very important to get them right. Here is a way of doing this:

Hello Mr Jones. My name is Jeff Wooldrich and Jennifer Aniston suggested that I call you. Can I take five minutes to explain why?

Good morning Ms. Eleman. My name is Sarah Parker and Mike Williams told me you are currently looking for a new turret dryer system. I may be able to help you with this -- is it ok now to take a few minutes to discuss this?

Notice that there are three parts to this:

  • A basic greeting
  • The referral
  • A reason to continue

The greeting is a fairly standard and formal introduction that sets the standard and expectations of a polite conversation. The referral acts as a bridge, linking to the real request. The reason to continue extends this.

In effect, the referring person's name buys you a bit more space in which to hook the customer. If they cannot be caught in this extra time then you have probably lost this particular fish.

The continuation

After getting permission to continue, you may be able to leverage the referring person again by talking about the benefits that they gained from working with you.

Explain why you have been referred to the person and check that your understanding of the situation is correct.

I was able to help Jennifer get a substantially increased contract protection and I understand that you may be looking for similar benefits. Is this true?

If they agree with your description, then continue as a normal sales call. If they disagree, ask them why you were referred to them.

Hmm. Looks like I haven't quite got my facts right. I wonder why Jennifer gave me your name.

This may give you a further lead or may lead you to qualify out the person. If you get no joy with them, you can, of course, ask them for a further referral.

A further point that is often useful to remember is to keep the person who gave you the referral in the loop. When the referred person knows this they will trust you more. The referrer will also appreciate knowing what happened and may give you more referrals as a result!

See also

Getting Referrals

Sales Books

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