If you’ve dated in the age of the Internet, it probably went something like this: Before you went out on a date, you emailed back and forth, exchanged photos online, learned about each other’s interests and then decided to talk on the phone. When you finally met face to face, you felt as if you already “knew” this person.
Cut to the chase. Think about it. When you receive an introduction to your sales prospect, that prospect gets to know about you and why it’s beneficial for the two of you to talk before you ever meet. You begin the conversation knowing about each other. You skip over the uncomfortable thoughts and questions that run through a prospect’s head in most initial sales meetings, such as:
- What is this person trying to sell me?
- Why does he talk about himself?
- Please don’t let him ask me what keeps me awake at night.
- He’s asking questions about me when he could have found the answers on the Internet.
- He’s pitching his product.
- How fast can I get this guy out of here?
Get personal, get in person. The scenario is positively different when you’ve been introduced. You begin a friendly conversation talking about how you both know the referral source. You already have something in common, somewhere to start. You are not total strangers.
One of the earliest lessons for me on the power of referrals occurred during a short phone conversation that a referred prospect (“Jim”) and I had at a breakfast meeting. Within the first 10 minutes of our breakfast, Jim shared information that wasn’t a “trade secret” but certainly wasn’t available in any printed form. He told me he was sharing this information because we were already friends.