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Are you the only one who knows the answer?

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You wouldn’t socialize in a darkened room, so why keep your clients and colleagues in the dark? You may know who your ideal client is, but your customers, colleagues and friends may not. So tell them.

If you want referrals to the right prospects, those who have a budget and need for your solutions, who value your time and expertise and who have the power to make decisions and close big deals, then you’ve got to stop expecting your referral sources to read your mind. Instead create a crisp portrait and precise definition of your ideal client.

Ask for what you want

The problem with accepting referrals to anyone who fogs a mirror is two-fold: You end up with either a ton of leads that go nowhere (because “anyone” isn’t interested in what you’re selling) or a pipeline clogged with PITAs (“pain in the ass” clients).

For many salespeople, being super-specific in describing their ideal client feels risky, as if they’re narrowing the field too much. The opposite is true. The more specific your profile, the easier it will be for others to suggest qualified referrals.

A second opinion

I’m not the only one suggesting salespeople hone their focus and communication. Sales expert Dave Brock explains why specificity matters in sales. “‘I’ll know it when I see it!’ When I hear those words, I cringe. To me, it’s a huge red flag, usually confirmed by [the sales professional’s] inability to respond when asked, ‘Well, how will you know?’ In my experience, the person saying those words is either clueless — but doesn’t recognize it — or too lazy to do the homework critical to getting what they want/need, not what they get,” says Brock. 

If you’ll know it when you see it, then you should be able to articulate it in great detail. Unless you can explain exactly what your ideal client looks like, you’re on your own in finding them.

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Let your referral networks in on the secret

The beauty of referral selling is that everyone you know becomes part of your lead-generation team. Your clients, colleagues, friends and family all know plenty of people, and they’ll readily refer you — if and when they have enough information to help you make the connections you want.

Think of yourself as a sketch artist. The more color, lines and detail you present, the easier it will be for others to recognize the person being depicted. And what could be better than a pipeline full of ideal prospects?

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