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Life Health > Running Your Business > Marketing and Lead Generation

You're the missing link in your sales success

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When salespeople receive a referral, their close rate exceeds 50 percent (clients tell me typically 70 percent or higher). Leads from other, less-direct sources have a 1- to 3-percent close rate.

The personal approach will lead you to success. The definition of a referral is a personal introduction. The introduction can be by phone, email or in person. If you just get a name, you are making a cold call. Yes, a cold call. You interrupt the person, they don’t expect your call, and they might not even believe that the person you mentioned actually referred you.

I view nearly everyone as a part of my referral network. And the people who know the people I want to meet become my referral sources. These referral sources are the (really cool) people who offer to introduce me.

Your referral source (your mutual connection) must reach out to your desired contact first and verify that it’s OK for you to contact them. Then, an email introduction makes sense. Too many salespeople ask for referrals through technological avenues alone–leaving your referral source with very little information about you. Plus, you miss the opportunity to reach out and reconnect.

With a little “instruction” you can empower your referral source to introduce you. Teach that person how to introduce you. (For example, how do you want “what you do” to be described?) Teach referral sources about your ideal client, and provide them with the answers to these critical questions:

1. What business issues do you solve?

2. What is the job function of your ideal client (e.g., CEO, VP, IT, marketing executive)?

3. In what industry or geographical region do you work?

4. What size company is perfect for you?

Want to gain traction with your referrals? Always reconnect before you ask for the referral introduction. Don’t rely on technology alone to boost your referrals. Remember, people do business with people, and referrals are based on a trusted relationship. The missing link is you.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit (C) Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.


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