Your clients are your absolute best source for new business. You have earned the right to ask them for referrals. They know you and have witnessed the return on investment your solutions have generated. You should absolutely stay in touch with them and tap their networks for referral sources. But once you’ve mined that vein, where can you turn?

An unexpected referral source. Have you ever considered that other salespeople could be a great source for referrals? Salespeople know and understand one another. We are the heartbeats of our companies. It’s our job to bring in business. We’ve got good instincts, and we are good at sizing people up quickly. We’re creative, imaginative, resourceful and demanding — because we want what’s best for our clients.

We’re always looking for more business and for any opportunity to reach or surpass our quotas. We’d rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. We have similar goals and interesting war stories to share. And we’re willing to help each other whenever possible.

Colleagues and co-workers. So where do you start? Consider who you know in the following categories:

  • Salespeople in aligned fields. For example, if your company provides data-storage-management systems for large enterprises, develop cooperative relationships with salespeople at computer hardware companies and software businesses that develop storage tools, database software or systems integrators. Having such relationships can help you better address your clients’ needs, and colleagues at these companies can become important referral sources.
  • Salespeople within your company. Your co-workers know people at the companies you target. They can be great resources for industry knowledge and sounding boards for new strategies. One industry leader I know provides strong incentives for salespeople to refer. If a referral results in a sale, the referring salesperson earns a commission. This company has created a culture that not only allows salespeople to make referrals to their colleagues but encourages it.
  • Salespeople…anywhere. Contact salespeople you know. Find out what’s new, what trends or challenges they’re facing. Ask them about sales situations where they were able to knock the socks off their competition and land a great new client. Learn how you can help each other.

Referrals are the ultimate win-win situation. And no one knows that better than other salespeople. So start building a referral network with your co-workers and colleagues. That way, you’ll all meet quota, and your clients will receive the best possible service.

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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 www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.