There seems to be a consensus that referrals are the best form of leads. They close faster, buy more and stay longer. In fact, great sales people have been good at generating referrals for what seems like forever.
Until recently, large corporations have struggled to figure out how to scale the success of individual sales reps to systematically and proactively drive large volumes of referrals. But that is all changing as technology is now coming to market that can help large brands automate the best practices of sales reps and institutionalize the process of generating referrals from customers, employees and other people who influence the buying decision.
Good technology systems typically are designed to automate manual best practices. Let’s take a look at key functions that great sales people all tend to have in common:
- They build referral channels. The majority of salespeople are excellent networkers. Whether meeting people via the local rotary club, the area chamber of commerce or at the local pub, great salespeople can be very good at telling everyone about what they do – their friends, family, customers, other employees and even strangers. Great salespeople also know that the more people who know what they do, the better the chance of that specific network spreading the word.
- They ask their channel for referrals. Most great reps never leave a meeting, business or personal, without asking for a referral – and they are skilled at handling it with a gentle approach. One of the most staggering statistics that I have recently heard is that between 70 percent and 80 percent of all people are willing to refer leads if asked, yet less than 15 percent of individuals and companies ask for them. The great ones ask, and they ask often.
- They motivate the channel. Compensation is a great motivator (just ask the majority of the 17 million commissioned sales reps in the U.S.) and many of the great ones build professional referrals networks where they compensate people and companies for leads referred to them that can eventually lead to business. There are both monetary and non-monetary ways to incent people to do things that actually work.
- They nurture the channel. They always thank their network for referrals, they compensate their network in a timely fashion for referrals and they keep them in the loop.
The good technology solutions should help replicate and facilitate those processes to “institutionalize” and scale the process of driving referrals. These solutions must:
- Make it easy to enroll customers, employees and influencers into the referral program. The idea is to build a referral community.
- Provide them with the tools to make it easy to refer.
- Track and manage all the workflows so you can measure results.
- Automate the process of thanking and nurturing these channels for their contributions so they continue to perform.
While the marketplace is changing at a pace that is liable to cause even the top salespeople to question their sales strategy, there is one thing that will not change. Networking will always be #1 for driving quality leads that must be nurtured, thanked and motivated.
The only real difference today, is that these steps can be completed at a faster, more efficient pace, generating exponentially more leads and closed deals – and enabling the best salespeople to be even better.