No more cold calling! The power of referrals

February 4, 2021
Business Growth

No more cold calling! The power of referrals

With expert Joanne Black, No More Cold Calling

In this post, pick up tips to help you develop an outbound referral strategy that reduces risk, increases productivity, and ensures that the most qualified prospects enter your pipeline.


The power of referrals  

It boils down to ‘the multiplier effect of trust’. 80% of buyers don’t trust traditional salespeople.  

With a referral, you gain trust; without trust you have nothing.  


The pros of referral selling  

  • Referral selling is your biggest competitive differentiator
  • It reduces your cost of sales – you don’t have to do so much marketing  
  • It saves you time – you can skip a lot of the steps by securing a meeting in just one call
  • The conversion rate – it’s huge

How do you find referrals?  

  • Generating qualified leads is the most important part of the process  
  • Qualified is the key word  
  • Your current clients are your highest value revenue stream  
  • They won’t refer you to competition, but they will refer you

The painful referral gap  

  • You need to build a referral culture – focus on outbound  
  • Make the most of your client base. Have you asked every single one of your clients for a referral? You don’t know who other people know until you ask  
  • The limitations of LinkedIn: you can only tell so much about a person from their LinkedIn. You only see what they want you to see.  E.g. you don’t know who their friends are, their neighbours, families etc. All of these people are potential referrals that you’ll only learn about by building a relationship
  • Send a personal invitation – once you’ve been introduced  
  • Don’t be too busy – don’t ever give the impression that you’re too busy to get to know someone  
  • People want to put good people together. It makes them feel good knowing they’ve made a helpful introduction  
  • There needs to be a valid reason for your prospect to want to talk to you – work out what this is

Referral reluctance (the elephant in the room!)  

  • Call reluctance – fear of being a nuisance
  • Scared of being pushy – people are afraid of coming across as loud and arrogant. You don’t need to come across this way!  
  • Fear of asking for help – don’t want to look desperate  
  • Fear of flat rejection – that they will just say ‘no’. Referrals are personal and this fear is much harder to overcome than cold-calling where rejection is just a natural, accepted part of the process
  • How to get over all these things holding you back? Ask yourself – if someone you knew, liked and trusted asked you to help them, would you? Yes – but we don’t often automatically think they’ll do the same for us. It takes a slight mindset shift to assume that, yes, they will

What does it take?  

  • A specific referral strategy with clear metrics and outcomes. How do you know this referral will be a success?  
  • Mindset: remember that you’re not using your contacts to sell – you’re asking for an introduction
  • Referrals are a skill. You need to build referral skills and shift behaviour. You wouldn’t just pick up a guitar and suddenly play like Santana – it takes time and needs to be honed
  • Flawless execution – have customer success in the foreground, all the time

How to jumpstart?  

  • Start in the right place. Begin with the people you have the best relationship with, not those who know the most people
  • Make a list of colleagues and others you know. Prioritise as above
  • Make a list of your contacts within each client company
  • Conversation is so important – the lead source needs to know who you are and exactly what you’re looking for. Make their life easier. Don’t ask big, open questions like ‘do you know anyone?’ – instead, be super, super specific: ‘Can you introduce me to two people who do X and could benefit from Y?’  
  • Avoid the language of transaction. If you’re struggling, try to avoid using the words ‘referral’ or ‘favour’. Think about it in this way: the source is not doing a favour to you – they’re doing a favour to their contact by referring them to you so that they can benefit from what you can give them

A new way of working  

  • Ask yourself – what’s the real cost of not moving to referral sales? What are you losing or giving up as a result of not transitioning?  
  • Remember: referrals are timeless and recession-proof
  • Finally… remember that there is an abundance of business out there for everyone


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